Is There Room in the GOP for Gay Candidates?

 

It seems odd that we are having a conversation like this in 2013. And I have refrained from posting here at Ricochet about the “gay stuff.” You see, I’m probably the most conservative gay guy you would ever meet – aside from my partner. So I’m not going to be the one screeching about wanting special rights, or turning the American flag into a rainbow flag, or other silly PR stunts that the gay progressives drool over.

It may also come as a surprise to those who have read GayPatriot, or follow me on Twitter, than I’m ambivalent at best on the issue of same-sex marriage. I know what the gay progressives are up to with the issue – and “love” is the last thing on their checklist. I remind my gay leftist cheerleaders that religious liberty is spelled out in the Bill of Rights; marriage is not.

In any case, I believe that one can have policy disagreements over specific issues that fire up gay people; I’ve been doing it most of my life! But then came this issue which a more fundamental problem: Should there even be gay candidates in the Republican Party?

Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, a senior House Republican eyeing a powerful committee chairmanship, is causing friction with some of his colleagues by pushing the House GOP campaign arm to deny support for some of the party’s gay congressional candidates.

Forbes has waged a lengthy crusade to convince his colleagues and the National Republican Congressional Committee brass they shouldn’t back some gay candidates. His efforts on Capitol Hill were described to POLITICO by more than a half-dozen sources with direct knowledge of the talks.

The issue is particularly acute because House Republicans have two promising openly gay candidates in 2014 vying for seats held by Democrats. Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost to Democratic Rep. John Tierney in 2012, is running again in northeastern Massachusetts. And in San Diego, Carl DeMaio, a former city councilman, is trying to knock off Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

When I first read this, I laughed it off. But it may actually be a serious problem. The Democrats have gone to great lengths to purge those with pro-life views from their party and they’ve been quite successful. I suppose one could say the same about pro-choice candidates in the GOP; but it seems to me Republicans have accepted pro-choice candidates if they fit a particular congressional district. Democrats, not so much.

And I have no problem with members of Congress expressing their support or opposition to same-sex marriage and having a debate on those moral, liberty and freedom fault lines.

But do I really want to belong to a political party who has a member of Congressional leadership lobbying to deny a gay Republican candidate the resources to win a winnable district? I’m not sure I can stomach that.

A bunch of friends pointed out to me that Forbes is really an outlier and the real story is the push back from Speaker Boehner and others in the GOP to support Tisei and DeMaio. That’s the glass half-full perspective. I just can’t believe this is an argument at all for a party whose public relations message has been “Big Tent” since I was a Reagan teenager.

But Forbes has a lot of support from the Christian conservative arm of the GOP. For example, the very vocal Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association:

 <blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Forbes is right, Boehner is wrong: GOP should not support gay candidates, whose lifestyle undermines the party platform.</p>&mdash; Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BryanJFischer/statuses/408714533503389696″>December 5, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>Fischer’s tweet sent off a firestorm on Twitter, which heartened me a bit. But if I was Tisea or DiMaio, I’d have to ask myself if I really wanted to be a candidate for such a political party. Personally, I would never become a Democrat. Their party has become a statist-Social Democrat-esque nightmare that has balkanized American politics over race, class and gender.

I follow the Buckley Rule: Elect the most conservative candidate that can win a general election. In Massachusetts and California, that may be Tisei and DiMaio. Shouldn’t we let the Republican voters in their districts make that decision, not a Congressman from Virginia? And shouldn’t the national party encourage all conservatives regardless of race, creed, color, religious and sexual orientation, to be engaged in our political process?

Dang, maybe I’m just going squishy.

There are 137 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @

    If any candidate let’s their vices rule over them they should be shown the door. (This is Universal)

    If they can accomplish that and make government as inoffensive as possible, I really don’t care what exotic lifestyle they live in the comfort of their own home. Not mine.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @MikeH

    Sure, as long as they aren’t married. *ba dum ching*

    But seriously. I like to think very few people on Ricochet actually have problems with gay people themselves, or even gay candidates, as long as they were indistinguishable from other Republicans in policies.

    Of course, I didn’t see the disavowing of Dick Cheney when he came out in support of gay marriage, so it seems anything can be forgiven if you have enough bonafides elsewhere.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    @ASquared

    Yes

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Contributor
    @GeorgeSavage

    The Republican party needs to welcome everyone broadly in agreement about restoring our Constitution.  We believe in liberty for the individual and correspondingly limited government, with most political power dispersed away from the center and toward states and communities, where the people will have the greatest influence.  

    In practice, a commitment to maximum individual freedom means that many of us will embrace different lifestyles, religions and other idiosyncracies.  We get to argue about all of this and, if civil, the debate can be both entertaining and illuminating.  

    The lockstep thing is for the Left.

    Gays and minorities and fill-in-the-blank should flock to our banner, because authoritarian government, no matter how friendly today, represents a clear and present danger to them, as to us all.  The leftists are trying to make political identification a tribal thing–only aging white men should consider voting Republican.  We need to counter by pointing to the universality of our ideals.

    Some localities may welcome openly gay candidates more than others, and that is another part of our federal experience.  But the Republican party should be supporting conservatives who can help us save our country and who stand a chance of winning.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @flownover

    Having read GayPatriot occasionally through the years ( how long have you been writing that ?) I do want to thank you for your views. Now for the Gay Old Party and it’s inclusiveness, how the heck can you even tell ? The party appears to be without a reasonable channel of communication among it’s members . This causes us to read MSM rags and believe that Mitch McConnell was attacked in a knockout game by Rand Paul or some such nonsense. We need to find a big soapbox or effective means rather than buying into the drama. 

    I think you should stick with the Buckley rule and abandon any pursuit of a unified field party based on any ten different issues. Like the television we have fragmented our views and ,like David Brooks noted, we are bowling alone. So what difference does it make that somebody somewhere doesn’t approve of your lifestyle ? At least they approve of saving your life at any point from conception . Republicans need to remember their manners and quit asking about personal matters, we gotta country to run.

    Sure beats the competition. 

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @EJHill

    Congressional politics are all local. They should represent their constituency. And they will if elected.

    There are two problems with an openly gay candidate – evangelicals and black outreach. That’s a problem I don’t know how to solve. The only “wedge” the GOP has in the black community right now is gay marriage. (And the Dems know it, too. That’s why they have to frame every single bit of opposition to Obama as racial opposition.)

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Contributor
    @FrankSoto

    Sure.  If one wins a primary then there shouldn’t be an issue.  The party as a whole actively working against such candidates is foolish.  Hopefully those efforts by Forbes go nowhere.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Forbes’ position is ridiculous. I can understand opposing candidates based on policy, but not on orientation or identity. I also think it would be silly to oppose funding candidates who support same-sex marriage, but at least I could understand that position.

    A problem with purges like this is that they can very easily be turned against Forbes and his ilk. Voters are becoming more welcoming of SSM every year – will candidates who oppose it be stripped of funding a decade from now?

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Editor
    @RobLong
    George Savage: The Republican party needs to welcome everyone broadly in agreement about restoring our Constitution.  We believe in liberty for the individual and correspondingly limited government, with most political power dispersed away from the center and toward states and communities, where the people will have the greatest influence.  

    In practice, a commitment to maximum individual freedom means that many of us will embrace different lifestyles, religions and other idiosyncracies.  We get to argue about all of this and, if civil, the debate can be both entertaining and illuminating.  

    The lockstep thing is for the Left.

    Some localities may welcome openly gay candidates more than others, and that is another part of our federal experience.  But the Republican party should be supporting conservatives who can help us save our country and who stand a chance of winning. · 7 minutes ago

    As usual, Dr. Savage, brilliantly put.

    And Bruce, I think we talked briefly about this when we met in DC a year ago, at the NRI conference.  I’m glad you posted this.  

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @dittoheadadt

    I personally don’t give a rat’s ass what someone’s sexual orientation is, political candidate or otherwise.

    I’d vote for a gay conservative over a straight Liberal as often as I could get away with it.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Member
    @DrewInWisconsin

    But do I really want to belong to a political party who has a member of Congressional leadership lobbying to deny a gay Republican

    candidate the resources to win a winnable district? I’m not sure I can stomach that.Heh heh. Change “gay Republican” to “Tea Party” and . . . hey, that works, too!

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart

    I’ll take a gay conservative over a straigt leftist any time.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Member
    @NathanielWright

    Forbes is wrong. The GOP should be a big tent party that stands for decreasing the power and influence of government. I would welcome a gay GOP candidate here in Los Angeles. I favored Kevin James over the candidates we had in the last mayoral election.

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Member
    @DuaneOyen

    I say we replace Randy Forbes with Ann Coulter.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller

    The problem a gay candidate would run into is believability where marriage laws and related family laws (such as those related to adoption) are concerned. Right or wrong, the general perception is that a gay person against the gay lobby agenda is a rare bird indeed. And political candidates don’t get much slack from many voters in regard to being who they claim to be and doing what they say they will do.

    Marriage and the family is the foundation of everything. It is the cornerstone of social relations. Change family norms and you change the society. Even when laws related to family are not in the forefront of political debate, one’s positions and trustworthiness on that subject are justifiably a major checkbox for many voters.

    But yes, theoretically, a gay candidate who pledged devotion to the traditional stance on such issues would be acceptable. It would just be hard to convince voters to ignore the odds of betrayal. The candidate would have to exude honor.

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Douglas

    That depends. The GOP is by and large a socially and relgiously conservative party. If such a candidate were to come to the base and make an argument along the lines of “Look, I know we disagree about things on this issue, but for me, it’s a personal matter, and we’re on the same page 95 percent of the time, and I promise to represent your views”, then sure, he’d get support. If such a candidate tried a “get with the times” pressure trip on sexual issues, though… a la our recent “Anglo Saxons” immigration stuff… then good luck even getting ten percent of a primary, let alone official party support.

    Bottom line, such a candidate would have to be up front with the party voters on exactly how he’d handle such issues vis a vis the principles of the party majority. I’d feel precisely the same about a gay candidate telling me I have to accept party support for gay marriage as I would about John McCain telling me I have to accept amnesty for illegals. I’d walk away.

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Member
    @Yudansha

    I only like two sorts of defenders of liberty — Foreign and Domestic.  Any other classifications are just dorm-room debate points.

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @JosephEagar

    I think Ann Coulter put it best, as to why gay and bi men should support the pro life movement, at least: If they ever find a gay gene or a bi gene, people will start aborting gay/bi children in droves.

    • #18
  19. Profile Photo Inactive
    @FrozenChosen

    Unless the GOP also refuses to support straight fornicators and adulterers I don’t think they should discriminate against gay candidates.

    • #19
  20. Profile Photo Member
    @BobThompson

    I need to know what principles a candidate supports and how those principles align with our Constitution, that’s all.

    • #20
  21. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Skyler

    No.

    • #21
  22. Profile Photo Member
    @DrewInWisconsin
    Joseph Eagar: I think Ann Coulter put it best, as to why gay and bi men should support the pro life movement, at least: If they ever find a gay gene or a bi gene, people will start aborting gay/bi children in droves.

    Yep. I’ve been saying this for 30 years.

    • #22
  23. Profile Photo Inactive
    @StevenK85
    Aaron Miller: The problem a gay candidate would run into is believability where marriage laws and related family laws (such as those related to adoption) are concerned. Right or wrong, the general perception is that a gay person against the gay lobby agenda is a rare bird indeed.

    That may be true, but it seems like that’s all the more argument why having conservative gay candidates who oppose the “gay lobby’s” agenda is a good thing.  One of the best ways to demonstrate that the conservative position is not based in animus is to show that there are plenty of members of the identity group (sexual, racial, gender, or religious) who are on the conservative side.  This helps to expose that the left’s identity politics is much more about the “left” than the “identity”.

    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller

    I suspect Frozen Chosen hits at the thinking of some of these Republican politicians. There are two reasons a voter might be wary of a candidate’s homosexuality: (1) because of what he will do in office, or (2) because of who who he will be in office. If one thinks a politician should be a leader and example to kids, then Frozen’s point comes into play. There is a difference between a sinner, like us all, and someone who denies sin is sin or abuses something sacred like marriage habitually. Historically, haven’t adulterers suffered politically for it (if only on the conservative side)?

    • #24
  25. Profile Photo Contributor
    @Majestyk

    Gays have nothing on Atheists in the Republican party.

    Try getting elected as an Atheist Republican and get back to me on who is more marginalized – even though the number of Atheists dwarfs the number of gays in this country.

    • #25
  26. Profile Photo Member
    @Roberto
    Frozen Chosen: Unless the GOP also refuses to support straight fornicators and adulterers I don’t think they should discriminate against gay candidates. 

    Representative Thad Viers,  Representative Chris Lee, Representative Mark Souder, Representative  Chip Pickering… many GOP politicians have had their careers ruined due to adultery.

    It is hardly a consistently applied principle, i.e. Sanford, but it is definitely a problem and if a candidate wants primary voters to overlook or forgive such he has to justify himself to their satisfaction. It is not something that can be or is automatically disregarded.

    • #26
  27. Profile Photo Inactive
    @JamesFiorvento
    Majestyk: Gays have nothing on Atheists in the Republican party.

    Try getting elected as an Atheist Republican and get back to me on who is more marginalized – even though the number of Atheists dwarfs the number of gays in this country. · 0 minutes ago

    Not even atheist, try getting elected as a secular/nonreligious anything. “Nones” are 20% of the population and have less than a dozen seats in the House.

    EJHill: There are two problems with an openly gay candidate – evangelicals and black outreach. That’s a problem I don’t know how to solve. The only “wedge” the GOP has in the black community right now is gay marriage. (And the Dems know it, too. That’s why they have to frame every single bit of opposition to Obama as racial opposition.) · 1 hour ago

    True, but that shouldn’t be an issue in Congressional districts without a large population of either(mostly in the rural Upper Midwest and Mountain West.)

    On the whole, I’d rather have a single gay conservative on my side than a legion of straight liberals against me.

    • #27
  28. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Majestyk: Gays have nothing on Atheists in the Republican party.

    Try getting elected as an Atheist Republican and get back to me on who is more marginalized – even though the number of Atheists dwarfs the number of gays in this country. · 0 minutes ago

    Of the two, only atheism is credibly associated with communism, hence the reluctance of GOP voters to endorse candidates who are proud to positively proclaim God’s non-existence.  Listen to Reagan compare the godlessness of the Soviet Union to the faith of America and you’ll get the feel of why American voters don’t get all warm and fuzzy about atheism.

    To the main question – yes there’s room.  Whether there is room to win will always depend upon the makeup of the district and the structure of the primary.

    • #28
  29. Profile Photo Inactive
    @FrozenChosen
    Roberto

    Frozen Chosen: Unless the GOP also refuses to support straight fornicators and adulterers I don’t think they should discriminate against gay candidates. 

    Representative Thad Viers,  Representative Chris Lee, Representative Mark Souder, Representative  Chip Pickering… many GOP politicians have had their careers ruined due to adultery.

    It is hardly a consistently applied principle, i.e. Sanford, but it is definitely a problem and if a candidate wants primary voters to overlook or forgive such he has to justify himself to their satisfaction. It is not something that can be or is automatically disregarded. · 0 minutes ago

    You’ve got a point about adulterers but does anyone think that single, straight GOP candidates (of either sex) are celibate?  I’m going to go out on a limb and say they are not.  Being a practicing gay is no worse than being a straight fornicator.

    My somewhat obscure point is that the standards applied by most folks when it comes to sex are not consistent.  If you say that you will not vote for any candidate that has sex outside of marriage at least you’re being consistent, but to say you will vote for fornicators but not gays is uneven.

    • #29
  30. Profile Photo Inactive
    @JamesFiorvento
    Bucky Boz

    Majestyk: Gays have nothing on Atheists in the Republican party.

    Try getting elected as an Atheist Republican and get back to me on who is more marginalized – even though the number of Atheists dwarfs the number of gays in this country. · 0 minutes ago

    Of the two, only atheism is credibly associated with communism, hence the reluctance of GOP voters to endorse candidates who are proud to positively proclaim God’s non-existence.  Listen to Reagan compare the godlessness of the Soviet Union to the faith of America and you’ll get the feel of why American voters don’t get all warm and fuzzy about atheism. · 4 minutes ago

    Ayn Rand: Total commie.

    Overall, I doubt this this is the main reason why irreligion leaves a bad taste in voter’s mouths- Communism’s been a dead hypothesis for so long, I can’t see it as the main driver, at least. I don’t know what that is, though.

    • #30

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