On Thursday, Tina Korbe helped lay the ground work for series of posts as I have been planning on gays, the GOP and the current presidential election. In a post where she took issue with former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean’s mean-spirited anti-Republican rant, which I excerpted and linked here, she articulated a preference for the Republican appeal to the “whole person” over the Democrats’ pandering to the differences which divide us.
And so it is, in some ways, for gay Republicans. We may not like that our party has yet to embrace even state recognition of same-sex civil unions, but we are put off by the Democrats’ patronizing approach. We recognize that there are larger issues at stake than same-sex unions, particularly a president unwilling to address a federal debt than has increased by a greater amount in the past three years and two months than it had in the preceding eight.
Now, expect to hear increasingly harsh rhetoric attacking the GOP not just for the Democrat-declared war on women, but also for its hostility to people like us who differ from the societal norm. Democrats aren’t doing this just to keep gays voting Democratic, but they’re also seeking to appeal to straight suburban voters who have gay friends — or who are just uncomfortable with anti-gay rhetoric; such suburban voters may not be pro-gay per se, but do tend to be anti-anti-gay.
I endorsed Jon Huntsman for President in part because of his, as I put it three months ago, “solid statement on civil unions” in the ABC News /Yahoo!/WMUR-TV New Hampshire Republican primary debate. Although he thought marriage should be “saved for one man and one woman,” he also advocated “reciprocal beneficiary rights [as] part of civil unions”, encouraging states “to talk about this.”
His answer was much better than that of Mitt Romney, now the likely Republican nominee. Still, that former Massachusetts governor did offer a most decent reply which, for the purpose of this post and my intended series, I quote in full. He recognizes the capacity of gay people to form loving and lasting couples and even parent children. He shows no animus against people like us. He, like the man he seeks to replace, just believes marriage to be a union between individuals of different sexes.
In response to Diane Sawyer’s question how he would respond to a gay couple sitting down in his living room and asking about the right “to form loving, committed, long-term relationships”, he began by praising couples:
Well, the answer is, is that’s a wonderful thing to do, and that there’s every right for people in this country to form long- term committed relationships with one another. That doesn’t mean that they have to call it marriage or they have to receive the — the approval of the state and a marriage license and so forth for that to occur.
There can be domestic partnership benefits or — or a contractual relationship between two people, which would include, as — as Speaker Gingrich indicated, hospital visitation rights and the like. We can decide what kinds of benefits we might associate with people who form those kind of relationships, state by state.
But — but to say that — that marriage is something other than the relationship between a man — a man and a woman, I think, is a mistake. And the reason for that is not that we want to discriminate against people or to suggest that — that gay couples are not just as loving and can’t also raise children well.
But it’s instead a recognition that, for society as a whole, that the nation presumably will — would be better off if — if children are raised in a setting where there’s a male and a female. And there are many cases where there’s not possible: divorce, death, single parents, gay parents, and so forth.
But — but for a society to say we want to encourage, through the benefits that we associate with marriage, people to form partnerships between men and women and then raise children, which we think will — that will be the ideal setting for them to be raised.
Yes, I’ve quoted this before, but not yet in its entirety. Read his words carefully and consider them. They may not be exactly what we want to hear from our party’s standard bearer, but they are nonetheless not hateful. Mitt Romney does at least recognize and appreciate the capacity for two individuals of the same sex to form loving — and lasting — relationships.
And that recognition is a step, a big one, in the right direction — even if it doesn’t take him as far as we’d like him to travel.
NB: Interesting post that came up when I googled to see if standard bearer required a hyphen. (I didn’t think it did, but not all writers agree.)