Back in the late 1990s when I was involved in Log Cabin, I realized that other gay organizations were not our natural allies. While I agreed with the groups on a number of issues, I often found that their leaders had a knee-jerk reaction to most problems facing society. (Just as all to many had a knee-jerk reaction to the very word, “Republican.”) If there was something wrong, they felt that the government needed to step in, either with a regulation or a handout.
Most conservatives, however, believe that individuals and private institutions, whether business, civic or religious are better equipped to handle social (and other) problems. Indeed, many of us on the right fault the Bush Administration for not being aggressive enough in containing the growth of federal spending.
This weekend in New Orleans, it seems LCR has, at least on gay issues, signed on, to the liberal worldview. They used the same words to describe the struggle for “gay rights” as do the liberal gay groups: “equality” and “fairness.” Given that LCR calls its “educational think tank,” the Liberty Education Forum, one would think that they would add the terms “liberty” and “freedom” more often to the mix.
I’m all for fairness and equal opportunity, but am concerned whenever the government tries to enforce fairness and equality. I mean, I think this blog is a good as Andrew Sullivan’s, so it’s only fair that we should get an equal number of hits. But, for whatever reason, more people read his blog than read this one. If the government tried to make it “fair” to this blog, it would either have to force people to read this blog (which could be unfair to them) or limit the number who read Andrew’s blog (which would be unfair to those (over the quota) who wanted to read it).
That policy would necessarily limit the freedom of many individuals, forcing some to read this blog and blocking others from reading Andrew’s. Since the government should protect our freedom, it shouldn’t regulate blogging. So, I accept things as they are. Even if the blogosphere appears unfair and unequal, it remains free. As it should be.
On Saturday morning, when I heard the reports of the Log Cabin chapters, I was pleased to hear the progress that too many have made. Yet, I was concerned that so many saw their goal as working with the local “equality” group. To be sure, I think the groups should work together when they have common goals, as the Virginia club did on overturning a state law barring private companies from offering domestic partnership benefits. (Virginia had been the only state with a law denying private companies the freedom to design their own benefit plans.) Too often, however, the state “equality” groups focus only on government solutions to our concerns. Republicans should look to the private sector.
I was thus heartened when the representative of the South Carolina club said that his club was contacting local businesses and asking them to offer partnership plans. Other chapters should follow his lead, looking away from state legislatures and toward private companies. As even HRC has noted, an increasing number of private companies are offering benefits to same-sex partners and adopting non-discrimination clauses.
This policy of the South Carolina club would be a key component of a conservative policy on gay issues; it looks to the private sector. But, beyond this and the panel on Social Security reform, the convention barely considered any non-statist approaches to gay concerns. LCR seems to have taken for granted that what the national gay groups have defined as their agenda should be the agenda for all gay groups. Indeed, as I noted in my post, “Why I’m going to New Orleans,” in January, LCR signed onto the “Unity Statement” of 22 gay advocacy organizations. And while many convention-goers were critical of HRC and NGLTF, few speakers took issue with them.
Indeed, it seemed there were more speakers from non-Republican gay and lesbian organizations than there were from Republican and Republican-leaning organizations. Perhaps this is why, the convention did not consider whether a conservative organization should support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) or Hate Crimes’ legislation.
I have long wondered why a gay Republican group would have identical views on gay issues as the mainstream gay groups, especially when many of their leader have had long careers in Democratic politics. HRC’s new leader spent twelve years tried to elect pro-choice Democratic women to office. NGLTF is honoring DNC Chairman Howard Dean tonight at its Annual Leadership Awards dinner.
Many of these activists, as evidenced by NGLTF’s recognition of Howard Dean, also are viciously anti-Bush and also anti-Republican. Given LCR’s close association with these groups, it’s no wonder the organization failed to endorse President Bush last fall. And no wonder its leaders failed to offer him even the slightest praise this past weekend in New Orleans.
I recognize that on some issues, groups must work together with organizations with which they frequently disagree. Tomorrow, I will be praising LCR for doing just that on Social Security reform. It would have been nice for LCR to fault the mainstream gay organizations for their close association with the Democratic party and their vicious rhetoric against our party and its leaders.
I believe that the greatest peril for Log Cabin lies in its apparent longing to belong to the community of gay organizations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Log Cabin should deliberately distance itself from these groups. They should maintain cordial relationships and work together when necessary. But, they should not be afraid to disagree, even in public, with the attitudes — and policies — of these groups and their leaders. After all, Log Cabin leaders have shown little hesitation to disagree publicly with the president — and other elected officials — from their own party.
Just as Log Cabin leaders should take issue with the president and Republican congressional leaders when they put forward policies which could be detrimental to gay people, so should they take issue with the leaders of gay and lesbian groups when they put forward policies which are at odds with Republican principles. And just as we should stand up to anti-gay rhetoric in our own party, we should also stand up to anti-Republican rhetoric in the gay community.
Alas, that, in New Orleans, more speakers took issue with the Republican party and its leaders than those who took issue with gay organizations and theirs.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com