With all this talk of gay people marrying one another, some people on the right are starting to bleat about how they’re being oppressed for their Christian beliefs—so oppressed, in fact, that they’re starting to feel like “second-class citizens.” Here’s CBN’s David Brody lamenting the sorrows of Kirk Cameron and Tim Tebow. Here’s Red State’s Erik Erikson predicting the coming pogrom (“Within a year or two we will see Christian schools attacked for refusing to admit students whose parents are gay. We will see churches suffer the loss of their tax exempt status for refusing to hold gay weddings. We will see private businesses shut down because they refuse to treat as legitimate that which perverts God’s own established plan.”). Here’s Fox News commentator Todd Starnes on the oppression that has already begun (“it’s as if we’re second-class citizens now because we support the traditional, Biblical definition of marriage”). And how is this second-class citizenship being thrust upon them back in the real world? Well, people are … strongly disagreeing with their position on an issue of public concern! It’s awful, I tell ya.
The impulse to jam that crown of thorns down on your head is a powerful one in politics. It means you’ve achieved the moral superiority of the victim, and the other side must be the victimizer. The problem is that these folks don’t seem to have much of a grasp on what second-class citizenship actually looks like. Last time I checked, nobody was forbidden to vote because they’re a Christian, or not allowed to eat in their choice of restaurants, or forced to use separate water fountains, or even be forbidden by the state to marry the person of their choice. That’s what second-class citizenship is. Having somebody on television call your views retrograde may not be fun, but it doesn’t make you a second-class citizen.
Of course, they say, “Just you wait.” But these fantasies of oppression are just that, fantasies. One of their favorite scare stories is that before you know it, Christian ministers are going to be hauled off to jail or have their churches lose their tax-exempt status if they refuse to marry gay people. Right, just like at the moment a Jewish synagogue will lose its tax-exempt status if the rabbi won’t preside over a Pentecostal wedding. And as for the florist who refuses to sell flowers to a gay couple, what he’s asking for is not a right but a privilege, the privilege to discriminate based on sexual orientation. It’s no different than if he refused to sell flowers to an interracial couple. But somehow, if he finds justification for that discriminatory practice in his faith, that’s supposed to make it a fundamental right.
I’m more than happy to admit that in certain circles, it’s more acceptable to be gay than to be an evangelical Christian. That’s what Chief Justice Roberts was getting at when he noted during the oral arguments about DOMA that “political figures are falling all over themselves” to endorse gay marriage, and thus gay people don’t qualify as a disfavored minority. But what we’re talking about here isn’t attendance at fashionable Upper West Side parties, it’s discrimination under the law. That’s what makes you a second-class citizen. It’s what gay people live with now, and it’s something that is never, ever going to happen to Christians, no matter how bad some of them may feel when people tell them they’re wrong.
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, March 27, 2013
However the Supreme Court rules on the question of gay marriage, Prop 8, and the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA, as it’s widely known), the rapid shifts in how the country views same sex marriages is giving the GOP a case of political whiplash, as some leaders try to go with the flow and others scream “stop.”
On the one hand you have Karl Rove envisioning a pro-gay-marriage Republican presidential nominee in three years; on the other, you have former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee predicting a cataclysmic split in the Republican Party if that happens. If Republicans do flip on gay marriage, Huckabee said last week, “they’re going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk.”
So the immediate question facing conservatives is what outcome they should be quietly rooting for when the Supreme Court hands down its decisions. I think Hot Air’s Allahpundit has it about right:
I’ve read a bunch of pieces lately claiming that SCOTUS striking down gay-marriage laws will actually be a gift to GOP politicians because it’ll take this issue off the table. Rubio and Paul and Jindal et al. won’t have to squirm over whether to endorse SSM, back a federalist approach to the issue, or oppose it on the merits. They can just shrug and say “The Court was wrong but whaddaya gonna do?” and move on to other business. Take it from Huckabee: That won’t happen. Abortion’s technically been “off the table” for 40 years and yet it’s still an absolute litmus test for any potential GOP nominee (and any potential Democratic nominee too).
He goes on to argue that the best case for Republicans is for the court to hold up Prop 8, allowing pols to oppose it but say it should be up to the states. (It’s a rule of politics that in most cases when federal candidates insist a tough issue be left up to the states, they’re trying to avoid pissing off an important constituency.) Note that the “best outcome” is still pretty bad for the GOP: Young voters, who overwhelmingly favor gay marriage, and—oh yeah—voted in greater numbers in 2012 than seniors, will see through a pol trying to play both sides of the issue.
It’s also worth noting here that the Roe parallel works, but only to a point. As Media Matters’s Lara Schwartz wrote yesterday, the notion that the 40-year-old decision polarized the issue is nonsensical. As Yale Law School’s Linda Greenhouse (who used to cover the court for the New York Times) and Reva Siegel relate, “To the question of whether one can avoid conflict over such issues by avoiding courts, the answer from an accurate pre-history of Roe v. Wade is: no. The abortion conflict escalated before the Supreme Court ruled.”
By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, March 26, 2013
After Mitt Romney’s foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell resigned on Tuesday in response to social conservative complaints about his sexual orientation and his support for same-sex marriage, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is claiming credit. On his radio program Tuesday afternoon Fischer–who was the first to criticize Grenell for being “an out, loud and proud homosexual”–boasted, “This is a huge win… I will flat out guarantee you [Romney] is not going to make this mistake again. There is no way in the world that Mitt Romney is going to put a homosexual activist in any position of importance in his campaign.” (Fischer is a former evangelical pastor who is prone to making controversial remarkssuch as, “we should screen out homosexuals who want to immigrate to the United States.”)
That, of course, raises an important question: if staunch religious conservatives such as Fischer can dictate Romney’s policy and personnel decisions, what other demands will they make?
I called Fischer to find out. He says there are a number of stances on issues Romney has thus far avoided that would reassure the “pro-family” community. The most significant includes a pledge to veto the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination, reinstating Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and removing spousal benefits for the domestic partners of federal employees. Fischer laid out these same ideas in his initial attack on Grenell. “Romney needs to make the following public commitments… if he is to have any hope of generating even modest enthusiasm in the base…. If he’s going to pander, he’d better start pandering in a big, fat hurry.”
Here’s what Fischer told me on Wednesday:
One thing [Romney] can do is come out and endorse North Carolina’s marriage amendment. Sanctity of marriage is a very important issue for the pro-family community. I would urge him to restate his commitment to rigorously defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I would urge him to commit to revoking spousal benefits for unmarried domestic partners. President Obama has extended spousal benefits to partners of federal employees in violation of DOMA. We need to hear Romney take a position on reversing that. He needs to publicly commit to vetoing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) if it reaches his desk. I think he should reinstate the ban on homosexuality in the military. He said he won’t do that, but he should make it clear that military chaplains on his watch will have freedom to teach biblical view of sexuality without any fear of repercussions.
Romney has a nuanced–some might say slippery–relationship with a few of these issues. On DADT Romney criticizes President Obama for signing the law repealing it and allowing gays to serve openly in the military. But his rationale is not exactly that it was the wrong policy in the abstract, only that it was too stressful for the military. Therefore he says it would be even more disruptive to reverse the repeal now. This complicated position has the virtue of being partially acceptable to people on both sides of the issue. He must attempt to keep the anti-gay conservative base mollified while not alienating the large majority of the public that supported letting gays serve. His position allows him to sidestep taking any stance of accepting or rejecting homosexuality, while nominally caring only about what is best for the military as a whole. Of course, what was best for the brave men and women already serving in the military who happened to be gay doesn’t enter into this calculation. It is politically shrewd, albeit nakedly calculating and cowardly.
On some of these other hot button issues, such as benefits for the domestic partners of federal employees and ENDA, Romney hasn’t taken a stance in this campaign. His campaign declined to comment on these issues. But Romney has spoken about ENDA in the past. Back in 1994 when he ran for U.S. Senate he pledged to co-sponsor ENDA if he was elected. Then, in 2007, he said he would not support ENDA as president. So Fischer should rest assured that, as of Romney’s most recent flip-flop, he opposes protecting gays from discrimination in the workplace.
The other issues are essentially symbolic. The president has no say over state ballot initiatives regarding marriage. The supposed oppression anti-gay military chaplains is an obscure myth that no one outside the religious right even knows about. It is mostly idle conjecture that chaplains will not be allowed to insult homosexuality now that gays can serve openly in the military, not actual evidence of any chaplains being punished.
Symbolism, though, is important to Fischer, as it is to many social conservatives. Unlike other evangelical leaders, who pretended that their only objection to Grenell was his advocacy for marriage equality, Fischer readily admits that he doesn’t think Romney should have openly gay staffers. “If Richard Grenell had kept his sexual preferences to himself, none of this would have happened,” says Fischer. “Nobody would know, nobody would care.” I asked if that meant he thinks gays can work on the Romney campaign only if they remain in the closet, but not if they are open about their sexual orientation. Fischer didn’t dispute that characterization of his views, saying, “In [Washington], D.C. personnel is policy. If [Romney] wants to reassure the evangelical community that he’s with us on the sanctity of marriage then he should not make hiring decisions that confuse us about where he stands.”
The Romney campaign declined to respond to Fischer’s comments. Romney has butted heads with Fischer in the past, most notably when he criticized Fischer’s lack of “civility” at the Conservative Political Action Conference last year.
Given that Fischer has expressed misgivings about Romney in the past, especially about whether he is truly committed to the social conservative cause, I wondered why Fischer was so happy that Romney dumped Grenell. Isn’t this just more evidence that Romney doesn’t, in his heart, oppose homosexuality; he just will bend to the conservative base as much as he has to? Then again, does it matter? Or is the proof that you can control a candidate as valuable as the proof that he personally agrees with you? “You would prefer to have a candidate that you know is with you in his heart on these issues,” says Fischer. “But 10 years from now all that’s going to matter is the policies he pursued, it’s not going to matter why he pursued them. If he will do the right thing because it is politically expedient, then he will have done the right thing. At the end of the day that’s what’s going to count.”
By: Ben Adler, The Nation, May 3, 2012
The GOP has turned one of the most effective slogans in American political history on its head. The Republican rallying cry for 2012 will be “Anything but the economy, stupid.” Let’s see how that works out for them next year.
Last year Republican leader John Boehner promised Americans that his party’s priority would be fixing the economy and creating jobs if voters gave the GOP control of the House of Representatives. Republican House candidates echoed their leader’s call to focus on the economy like a laser beam. This year, they have done almost everything but. Two of the first three bills introduced by House Republicans at the start of the 112th Congress in January were designed to take away a woman’s right to choose. One of them, H.R. 3, would have allowed abortion only in cases of “forcible” rape. Like there’s some other kind.
Then there was the battle in the first week of April that almost led to the shutdown of the U.S. government and the end of all programs to create jobs. What was the GOP hang-up on waiting till the last hour to avoid the debacle? Concern that the budget wasn’t doing enough to create jobs? No. The issue that the GOP pushed in the negotiations until the very end was defunding programs at Planned Parenthood designed to limit the number of abortions.
But that’s not all Republicans are doing to create jobs. Tuesday, Speaker Boehner hired a lawyer at $520 an hour to defend an unconstitutional law, the Defense of Marriage Act. The law passed in 1994 defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman. President Obama wisely decided not to waste any money defending the law because it’s clearly unconstitutional. The 10th Amendment reserves the power to regulate marriages to the states. So much for wasteful government spending and states’ rights. But at least the GOP has created one good paying job.
Meanwhile, the religious right is busy attacking a conservative potential GOP presidential candidate, Mitch Daniels. He is the governor of Indiana and former director of the Office of Management and Budget. Daniels angered religious conservatives because he had the nerve to say economic issues are more important than social issues. The religious right feels anyone like Daniels who short changes social issues is either a heretic, a lunatic, or both. Yes, the Taliban wing of the Republican Party believes that persecuting gays is more important than creating jobs. Good luck trying to sell that message to the millions of Americans who are one paycheck away from bankruptcy. If they are lucky enough to have a paycheck.
When Republicans go down to ignominious defeat in 2012, they will have only themselves to blame.
By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and Worl Report, April 21, 2011
When the Obama administration announced that it no longer considers the Defense of Marriage Act constitutional, and would stop defending the law against court challenges, officials told Congress it could step in and defend DOMA if it wants to. Soon after, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House would gladly to just that.
Yesterday, Boehner’s office announced it has hired former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement to defend the discriminatory law, which seems like a wise choice. Clement is an accomplished attorney with extensive experience who’ll no doubt do a capable job.
But Clement is also a very well paid D.C. attorney, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would like to know what Boehner expects this little culture-war endeavor to cost. For that matter, Pelosi found it curious that the Speaker hired an attorney to represent the House, but hasn’t shared the contract with other congressional leaders.
Today, the picture started coming together.
House Republicans plan to pay former Solicitor General Paul Clement and his legal team from King & Spaulding as much as $500,000 of taxpayer money to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of House of Representatives, according to a document obtained by the Huffington Post.
“The General Counsel agrees to pay the Contractor for all contractual services rendered a sum not to exceed $500,000.00,” the Contract for Legal Services obtained by The Huffington Post says. The cap could be raised “by written agreement between the parties with the approval” of the House, the document states.
The hourly rate that King & Spaulding will be receiving is $520 per hour — which could actually be considered a deal. Some reports say that the firm’s top attorneys receive as much as $900 per hour.
Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill told Amanda Terkel, “The hypocrisy of this legal boondoggle is mind-blowing. Speaker Boehner is spending half a million dollars of taxpayer money to defend discrimination. If Republicans were really interested in cutting spending, this should be at the top of the list.”
That seems more than fair. After all, Boehner has been running around for months, falsely claiming, “We’re broke.” It’s how he justifies proposed cuts in critical areas like education, medical research, infrastructure, job training, and homeland security, even if it makes the jobs crisis much worse.
But if we’re actually broke, shouldn’t House Republicans want to save $500,000 of our money, and not give it to one high-priced lawyer to defend an anti-gay law?
By: Steve Benen, Washington Monthly, Political Animal, April 19, 2011