I have gay friends who are also Republicans, but I’ve never quite understood them. I’ve asked them how they could bring themselves to vote for George W. Bush, not once, but twice and they each have their own explanations, but I admit, as an independent, I kind of zone out when they begin talking favorably about Bush and other Republican ideals. Don’t get me wrong – these are fine, upstanding, taxpaying, hard working Americans who have every right to vote for the candidate of their choice. I simply find it mystifying that any gay or lesbian person can vote for a Republican.
One of my Republican friends was quite honest in the reason for his loyalty to the Grand Old Party: he was raised Republican. He valued the GOP’s tradition of fiscal conservancy, smaller government and more control for the individual taxpayer on how their money was spent. After voting for Bush a second time, however, one day over lunch he sighed and said, “I haven’t left the Republican Party, but I feel like it’s left me.”
For Peter LaBarbera, president of “Americans for Truth about Homosexuality” the party didn’t leave my friend soon enough. LaBarbera’s group is encouraging its members to contact the GOP’s new leader, Michael Steele, urging him to never, ever, under penalty of … well, a scolding, I suppose – and no more money from AFTAH – meet with those filthy, dastardly, gay Log Cabin Republicans – which boasts about 20,000 members nationwide.
“Michael Steele and the GOP need to do the math: it is foolish and impractical to risk alienating millions of pro-family, pro-life, conservative grassroots Republicans to appease a tiny homosexual special interest group with fewer members than the population of Liberal, Kansas,” LaBarbera said. “If the Republican Party is to turn itself around, it must reach out aggressively to real, pro-family minorities like Steele himself — not homosexual activists whose agenda would restrict our precious religious and First Amendment freedoms by using the government to promote aberrant sexual lifestyles.”
Or, Steele could simply do what the GOP has been doing for years – give LCR a courtesy meeting and promptly forget about them and their issues all together – but he does that at his party’s peril. Anyone who has watched the religious right hijack the GOP for the past couple of decades understands that the big tent is shrinking and has not had a place for gay and lesbian citizens for quite awhile. That being said, when Republican majorities are shrinking and the last election showing a fairly firm rejection of Republicans across the board – 20,000 votes can quickly become significant.
Instead of continuing to pander to groups like AFTAH, the GOP should learn the lesson from the last election and realize that every voter should count and to be the grand old party it once was, they may need to revisit some of those neglected and rejected communities and really listen to their concerns. What they would find are real, pro-family, gay and lesbian moms, dads, preachers, teachers, truck drivers, florists, people across the religious and sociological perspective who are waiting for the GOP to be as grand as it once was – when it was the party of Lincoln – ending oppression and fighting for the common good.