Time to defend gay rights

by Beacon Staff • November 15, 2006

"MARRIAGE WINS" declared the headline of one such piece, written by Stanley Kurtz for National Review.,The 2006 midterm elections were a crushing defeat for Republicans, but some conservatives did manage to salvage one bit of good news from the rubble of failure.

"MARRIAGE WINS" declared the headline of one such piece, written by Stanley Kurtz for National Review. Tuesday was "an excellent election for those who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman," he gloated.

He was referring to the fact that on Nov. 7, seven out of eight states passed initiatives that effectively banned gay marriage. Arizona was the only state to narrowly defeat such a measure.

After the electorate's clear rejection of Bush's Iraq policy, GOP corruption and unbalanced government, it's nice to know that some on the right can take comfort in this lone victory. Sure, voters overwhelming wanted them out, but at least they're still uncomfortable with gays tying the knot.

There is a historical trend here. The Republican Party is still paying for the sins it committed during the Civil Rights movement.

Had the GOP not given the 1964 presidential nomination to Barry Goldwater, who opposed the Civil Rights Act, they would be in better shape with black voters today. Had Richard Nixon not employed his racist and divisive "Southern Strategy" to win in 1968, President Bush may have better than a 2 percent approval rating among blacks.

Yet here we are in 2006, with another group of American citizens demanding fundamental rights that are being denied to them.

The Republican Party, again, sits firmly on the side of discrimination.

Many of their Democratic colleagues are on the same side, though they don't oppose gay marriage with the same bigoted fervor as, say, the recently unemployed Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

In the 2004 roll call over whether to proceed with a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment, only three Democratic senators voted in favor of it.

Although impassioned speeches about protecting the sanctity of marriage may help to win votes today, years from now it will be seen as another unfortunate stain on the reputation of the Republican Party.

We are the Will Grace generation. The lives of gay Americans are depicted in movies and television shows with increasing frequency and realism. No longer are they solely flamboyant punch lines. Their struggles are our struggles. They want what the rest of us do: love, dignity and respect. And more so past generations, we are willing to grant them the latter.

Democrats who support gay marriage constantly find themselves having to apologize for candidates who don't. This was seen in 2004 when both members of the Democratic presidential ticket, Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, opposed gay marriage.

On other issues, this isn't acceptable. In 2005, The Nation, a traditionally liberal newsweekly, said that it would only endorse candidates for office who favored a swift withdrawal from Iraq.

As the 2008 presidential election starts, let's stop pretending to be enthusiastic about candidates who want to continue treating a group of Americans like second-class citizens. The shame, as David Bowie once sang, is on the other side.

Let's tell them that at the ballot box.

No more candidates who oppose gay rights.

We either believe it or we don't.