To know how out of touch the Human Rights Campaign is with Americans outside the Washington Beltway — and how in touch the group is with the Republican-hating left, you just need to read a handful of their press releases, like the one I received in my morning e-mail. In the release, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese includes a letter he wrote to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, asking him to “heed First Lady Laura Bush’s advice: don’t use marriage as a campaign tool.” Like Joe, I agree with the First Lady on this one.
But, Joe doesn’t really help his cause by the tone of the letter.
Joe, if you’re trying to influence a man, you want to praise him and address his concerns rather than confront him. While you’re right to note that gay marriage does not rank very high “on a list of voter priorities,” it doesn’t help you convince someone who supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage to call it “divisive” and to suggest it would put “discrimination in the United States Constitution.”
Unless you show how it would do these things. Instead, all you do in your letter is offer sound-bytes attacking the amendment. You don’t use the letter (as you should) to make serious arguments against the Majority Leader’s pernicious proposal. Here’s a post which might help you make that case.
But, Joe, it’s not just that you have failed to make a strong case against the constitutional amendment. It’s that your letter to Frist reads like a screed from an angry left blog (and even a few angry right ones). You claim “recent polls show that the Republican base has fractured as a result of failed leadership from Republican leaders.” While it is true that the GOP base has fractured, it doesn’t help your cause to tell the Senate Majority Leader that it’s because of his failed leadership.
Yeah, Joe, you’re really going to influence a man by calling him a failure!
Not only that, you repeat another left-wing mantra by suggesting that the GOP’s “2004 playbook” included gay marriage. Whether or not that’s true, it doesn’t help your case to bring that up, especially given that the “2004 playbook” (whatever it contained) worked quite well for the GOP. Reminding a coach of a playbook which helped him win would, if anything, cause him to revisit it.
Joe, you don’t influence a politician whose party you frequently lambaste by lecturing him on politics. The very tone of your letter makes clear that you’d rather bait than influence the GOP. No wonder your organization dropped bipartisan from its mission statement.
Like Joe Solmonese, I’m eager for the FMA to be defeated, but, unlike him, I don’t fear a congressional debate on the topic. Why is that so many advocates of gay marriage fear public discussion? They prefer to go through courts rather than legislatures, much better fora for real public debates. I actually welcome such a debate.
First, let me say even if both houses could muster the two-thirds majority necessary for the amendment to be sent to the states (I doubt that even one house could muster that majority), there’s no way that three-quarters of the states would vote in favor of the amendment and so make it part of the constitution.
That said, I welcome the debate because it brings to the fore two very important issues, the primary one, being the meaning of a constitution in a free society, the second, being of course, the meaning of marriage. We need to have to both conversations. Too many on the right seem to favor a constitutional amendment every time a court decision does not go their way. And too many on the left seem to prefer using the courts to enact their poliices rather than addressing their merits in elected legislatures or directly to the American people.
To that end, I’m outlining a series of posts on gay marriage to put up the week before the Senate debate on this pernicious constitutional amendment.
So, Senator Frist, keep that constitutional amendment on the Senate calendar, but make sure to keep the debate civil. And listen carefully to the arguments against your proposal. I hope that by participating in this debate, you will better understand why our founders made it so difficult to amend the constitution and why some people favor expanding the centuries-old definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: Over at the Washington Blade, Chris Cain seems to share my wonderment at Solmonese’s reluctance to debate. Faulting “HRC’s lapdog strategy,” Crain claims the group’s leader is “following the DNC’s lead” in “avoiding a debate on the values at stake in allowing gays to marry.” Now, just read the whole thing. (Via the ever adorable Robbie.)