Sometimes the most amusing thing about reading the comments is noting how readily so many of our critics ignore the points we make (frequently misrepresenting them if they address them at all) to wonder why we don’t blog on this or that subject.
It’s as if we have all the time in the world and unlimited resources at our disposal. They’d rather bait us for what we don’t say than engage us for what we do.
I do grant that, in the past week, they were right to wonder about our silence on one issue, RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s recent comments on same-sex civil unions. It is something that we should take up–and if it were not for the press of other obligations this week, I would have done so sooner.
Mr Steele was asked if “Republicans ought to consider some sort of alternative to redefining marriage and maybe in the road, down the road to civil unions.”
“No, no no,” he told talk show host Mike Gallagher.
“What would we do that for? What are you, crazy?
“No. Why would we backslide on a core, founding value of this country?
“I mean this isn’t something that you just kind of like, ‘Oh well, today I feel, you know, loosey-goosey on marriage.'”
I don’t expect the Republican chairman to come out in favor of gay marriage. After all, the Democratic president opposes it as well. But, I think it’s incredibly short-sighted of him to rule out same-sex civil unions.Â While he must know he risks earning the ire of social conservatives if he himself comes out for civil unions, he makes them such conservatives seem the dominating faction in the party on such issues if he rules them out civil unions altogether.
Steele could learn a lesson from the former Vice President Throughout his two terms, Dick Cheney remained incredibly popular with conservatives. In the 2000 Vice Presidential debate, the Wyoming Republican offered a good compromise, saying that he believes this is a matter for the various states, not the federal government:
. . .people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It’s no one’s business in terms of regulating behavior in that regard. The next step then, of course, is the question you ask of whether or not there ought to be some kind of official sanction of the relationships or if they should be treated the same as a traditional marriage. â€¦ I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that’s appropriate.
To those who suggest Steele is determined to make opposing same-sex civil unions some kind of litmus test, I would remind them that he did not volunteer his opposition to state recognition of such relationships. It came up in an interview.
That said, for the sake of the party, he would do well to change his tune the next time he is asked such a question and respond as did Dick Cheney in 2000. This may not be the answer some of us would like to hear, but at least it shows some recognition of the nation’s changing attitudes toward homosexuality and an understanding of the Republicans’ demographic challenge.