Oh my, there really is a gay agenda, part 1

Of the 435 members of the US House of Representatives, only four are openly gay, the best known among them Barney Frank. Of the 100 members of the Senate, none are.

However, in the House, 102 congressmen are also members of the Equality Caucus, who work to ensure non-discriminatory legislation with respect to LGBT issues. They have their work cut out for them, as even now, they and their assistants have to spot anti-LGBT amendments added to bills and act to excise them.

That said, for a relatively recent social movement (only about 40 years) there has been a “meteoric advance” of this issue, said Diego Sanchez, the Legislative Assistant to Congressman Frank.

Among their chief aims right now is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which denied federal recognition to same-sex marriage. Courts have already struck down the law, a decision recently affirmed by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, but it is being appealed further to the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, legislative efforts to repeal DOMA continue.

Much though advances have been due to court judgements, “legislative changes are more enduring,” said Tobias Wolff, law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “It is important to have as much public buy-in as possible.”

The other priority of the Equality Caucus is to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Various forms of this bill have been before Congress for decades, and “over 90 percent of the US public believe that such legislation should exist,” said Sanchez, but still it’s a struggle to realise it. He didn’t go into detail (probably too complex) why that was so.

A clue to the difficulty may lie in the make-up of the Equality Caucus. Although (currently) 242 members of the House of Representatives are Republican, and only 190 Democrats, the Caucus has only 3 Republicans among its 102 members. The other 99 are Democrats.

* * * * *

Within the Republican Party, there’s a group known as the Log Cabin Republicans, who advocate gay-friendly policies within an overall conservative framework.

“We aim to build a more inclusive Republican Party – a big tent, so to speak – based on common core interests, e.g. liberty and individual responsibility,” said Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, based in Washington DC. “As former Vice-President Dick Cheney said, ‘Freedom means freedom for everyone’.”

“We rally among fellow conservatives [on themes] of economic independence, limited government, fiscal conservatism and strong national defence.”

Do the Log Cabin Republicans engage on non-gay issues? “We pick and choose,” he said. Currently, they are engaged in tax reform and balanced budget issues.

As for their track record on LGBT issues, “we’ve had partial support.”

At the same time, they hope to show the LGBT community that “they need us; nothing gets done in this city without bipartisan support.”

For example, the much-touted repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was largely a Republican effort, claimed Cooper. Republicans are naturally concerned about the effectiveness of the military, and the gay-friendly ones among them saw DADT as inimical to that. Although the courts had begun to question DADT, it was a bill sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (Republican, Maine) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (Independent, Connecticut) that finally made the change. Few people realise the pivotal role played by Republicans in this advance for gay rights, Cooper said.

The New York Times, however, has a rather different take on the eventual vote (New York Times, 15 Dec 2010, House votes to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, by Jennifer Steinhauer; Link).

What was interesting was the polling data presented. In 2008, when Barack Obama won the presidency with a landslide, about 28 percent of LGBT voters voted Republican, according to a CNN poll.

In 2010, 31 percent of LGBT voters voted Republican, also according to CNN’s exit polls.

It is entirely possible, said Christian Berle, Deputy Executive Director (political portfolio) of the Log Cabin Republicans, that “a person can identify himself as LGBT and identify as conservative.”

This makes a difference for, as Casey Pick, Programs Director, said, “I can speak conservative to conservative, Christian to Christian. No one else can speak the same language.” As fellow Republicans, they also have access to party leaders whereas others might not.

This was not always the case. Not too long ago, the Log Cabin Republicans were kept at arm’s length by the party leadership. Even now, although some leaders would consult with them behind closed doors, once outside, those leaders would make “scathing comments,”  noted Berle. “It’s a frustrating place to be.”

But what exactly has been the Log Cabin Republicans’ track record? I asked. For example, how many actually voted for the repeal of DADT?

“Eight Republican senators voted for and three abstained. In the House, fifteen Republican congressmen voted for repeal,” said Berle. The final vote count in the House as a whole was 250 for repeal and 175 against, indicating that the bulk of the support for repeal still came from Democrats.

Berle was quick, however, to point out that the party leadership lifted the whip, which was a victory in itself.

* * * * *

One should not imagine that all issues relevant to LGBT communities can be solved through federal legislative action in the United States.

Cautioned Jeff Krehely, Vice-President of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington DC: “Much of LGBT work in this city is focussed on Congress, but there is a huge amount of authority that the executive branch has on tweaking programs to make them more inclusive.”

At the same time, “one of the most frustrating things” is the fact that many programs and policy decisions are delegated to state level. For example, “the healthcare reform law is turned into 50 different healthcare laws in states.”

So on the question of marriage, which is traditionally outside the scope of the federal government, we need to look at what’s happening in individual states. One such example would be Maryland, where its General Assembly (its bicameral legislature) recently passed a law legalising same-sex marriage. How was it achieved? At what price?

That’s coming in part 2.

16 Responses to “Oh my, there really is a gay agenda, part 1”

  1. 1 Why not 13 June 2012 at 10:51

    My take is that marriage should be between man and woman. For gay, if they wish to have a formal relationship, they should lobby to use another term to legalise their relationship.

    The complication in allowing the “marriage” to apply to gays is that there will be other type of relationship that will want the same recognition. One example would be INCEST marriage. Even someone who loves to masturbate and do not need a third party would want to claim the right to marry himself/herself. Where is it going to end then?

    • 2 walkie talkie 13 June 2012 at 11:52

      Dear “Why Not”,

      Two questions:

      1. Am I correct that, if we exclude religious reasons or our emotions or our personal taste, then there is nothing wrong with incest if the parties involved in an incestuous relationship ensure that there is no birth of any retarded children (e.g. by using contraceptives during sex) and no empirical harm caused?

      2. Am I correct that we should allow incest to others as long as others can ensure that their incestuous relationships do not cause empirical harm to others, even though we ourselves may not choose to enter into an incestuous relationship due to our personal taste or personal religious reasons or personal non-rational emotional reasons? (i.e. even if our religious convictions is that incest is wrong, we should not impose our religious convictions about incest onto others who have a different conviction?)

      3. If marriage is inherently the union of two or more persons, then there would not be a marriage of a person to himself/herself, correct?

    • 3 artemov 13 June 2012 at 13:22

      At first I thought you are going to offer some intelligent counter arguments, which turned out to be the same old rehashed rubbish used by certain groups.

      Actually what’s wrong with an incestuous relationship? It’s still non-coerced love isn’t it? If you are talking about the offspring problem, with our medical and technological advances these days, I am sure it is far less a problem now than it is in the past (which might or might not lead to incest being a taboo, I am not too sure). Also, many straight people marry with no intention of having children, so why can’t they?

      And the nonsense about marrying oneself? Gosh.

      • 4 Anonymous 14 June 2012 at 11:54

        the genetic mutation problem only manifests itself after repeated incestuous relationships. that is to say, only after a long line of inbreeding will the lack of genetic diversity start showing itself. the first few generations of inbreeding usually won’t produce “offspring problems”.

    • 5 octopi 13 June 2012 at 19:23

      I’m sure that those people who very long time ago had objections to white women marrying black men were also thinking the same thing.

      The other thing is, you wrote that “marriage should be between man and woman”. What you actually meant is “marriage should be between men and women who are not immediate relatives of each other” because under your definition alone, incest would be legal.

    • 7 Jason 13 June 2012 at 19:47

      I love how you have reduced the idea of marriage to nothing more than a sexual act. I don’t know about you, but marriage is more than that – companionship, love and support, or for the skeptical, money, material comfort and status. How would a relationship between two men, two women, or a man and a woman any different from this point of view?

    • 8 octopi 13 June 2012 at 22:13

      I love the smell of flamebait in the morning…

    • 9 Reza 13 June 2012 at 23:13

      LOL. I don’t even…….

    • 10 yawningbread 14 June 2012 at 00:21

      Since your objections resemble the usual list trotted out by Christian fundamentalists, I would assume that another of your objections to same-sex marriage is that it would also lead to legalising polygamy, though you haven’t yet stated it.

      In this connection, see this article: Ugandan Observer.

      Somewhere within the article is the statement that the Ugandan interpretation of marriage (that it is between a man and woman) includes the right to marriage between one man and many women.

      How’s that for you?

    • 11 Reza 14 June 2012 at 13:18

      Okay let me pen a serious response to Why not.

      1) I appreciate your stance that we may lobby to use another term as that certainly is a step up from an outright statement AGAINST all same sex relationships. Indeed, even in the gay community in Singapore and abroad, don’t be surprised that there exists a plurality of views on this matter.

      2) For myself, who has been attached for 5 years with my partner from Taiwan, I do not need the term “marriage” to define my relationship. HOWEVER, I do want legal recognition as “marriage”, besides being just a name is also the merging and protection of two individual’s assets. As my partner is a foreigner in Singapore, we are not able to actually live in Singapore due to his visa issues. Currently, I am doing my PHD in Australia where we are at least recognised as being in a de facto relationship and I can bring him in as a dependent to stay and work here. Suffice to say, I already have a PR status here, and his application is proceeding as we speak. We can purchase a house here together, have spousal benefits at work and almost everything else a married couple would have. It is also legal to adopt children where we live and Australians are very open to have children of gay parents in their schools. On primetime television on reality tv shows like masterchef, contestants in same sex relationships are broadcast no different from straight ones, showing their homes, partners and even expressions of affection. Therefore, coming from Singapore where 377A is still in force with ZERO acknowledgment of my contribution to the State as a gay person, having such an affirmative environment for my relationship is all that I ask for – whether or not it’s being termed marriage, I don’t care. Other gay people will disagree with my stance, and therein lies the beauty in plural views.

      3) My hunch is that you haven’t thought out your viewpoints carefully. Your argument that it may lead to incestuous relationships is wholly deficient in that there is no causal link. As it stands, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden already have legalised same sex “marriages” by that name. It has been around for more than a decade. Are we seeing masses of siblings getting married in these countries?

      4) It doesn’t matter to me where your views originate from – whether it’s stuff you read off the internet or if you’re a chest-thumping hating Christian who cannot tolerate diversity. An illogical argument is an illogical argument and if you cannot demonstrate or back up your claims, then I urge you to rethink your position.

  2. 12 sloo 13 June 2012 at 16:44

    *Why not

    GOsh get a life….your arguments are as ancient as the dinosaurs. Why should heterosexuals define what marriage is? Just because its the norm (not for long more!) or it has been the way for centuaries, it does not mean that marriage cannot evolve (and not regress).

    And as with any marriage, it takes two to clap, it takes two to agree, acknowledge and accept – that means it takes two persons of legal marriageable age (in most countries – adulthood) to consent to get wed. Why should gays by prohibited from such a union? How does it affect your own marriage or any other heterosexual’s union?

    Thats why there is so much opposition to child marriages, whether it is between two kids or an adult and a child / teen. Thats why no one articulate such nonsensical examples like your – incest (btw that has happened before…) or a union between you and your hand (did you get your hand’s consent?)

    It’s all going to end when EVERYONE, every adult, has the right to marry the one they love.

  3. 13 SashaQueenie 13 June 2012 at 17:06

    How ironic. The person who chose the pseudonym “Why Not” is advocating that gay folks use a different terminology for the union between homosexuals. And Why Not completely lost credibility by bringing Incest into the discussion. Clearly, Why Not’s opinion towards gay is anything but positive.
    There used to be a time when interracial marriages were frowned upon, scandalous and even blasphemous. Yet today, we wouldn’t blink twice when we see interracial couples on the street. Two human beings want to be together and enjoy all the perks and rewards of being a family unit. I say, let them get married and divorce, just like any self respecting, miserable heterosexual couple is entitled to.

  4. 14 Ian 13 June 2012 at 17:18

    Why not incest? why not polygamy? Until you have valid reasons to deny, there isn’t really one to ban them. Then again i do not know the arguments for and against (validity as well), i do not know what they can bring to the society that are so abhorrent that it justifies the ban. Until i am faced with this issue, i believe i have the right to remain ignorant and not take a stand on the issue. As they all say, ignorance is bliss.

  5. 15 The 14 June 2012 at 10:59

    Why not – why not trot out the example of marriage between human and animal? Bestiality not your cup of tea?

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