Farewell Gay Liberals

Same Sex Marriage - Homer - SimpsonsI’m interested in where the gay rights movement is going. I will always feel a great kinship to my gay brothers and sisters. What’s more their cause of gender orientation equality will always be my cause as well. Although this particular cause is definitely liberal, the LGBT community, is not. In fact, in many ways, it is conservative. And so, as time goes on, I’m afraid that I will have to say goodbye to many of my gay colleagues as they are more and more at odds with me on important issues. (I mean goodbye to them from the liberal movement; I’m not talking about cutting off people from my life just because we have policy disagreements.)

A large part of this is simply that as a group, gays and lesbians are more economically successful. Why this is, I’m not sure. The lack of unplanned pregnancies undoubtedly helps. And the lack of gender limited roles can’t hurt. But the fact is that gay individuals and even more so gay couples are wealthier than their straight counterparts. We all know: the rich vote Republican. And as the Republican Party slowly gives up on its absurd anti-gay policies, we will see more and more of the LGBT community join it.

Dan Savage

There was an interesting moment on Up with Chris Hayes yesterday. Hayes asked a question that I must admit has occurred to me a few times: is it possible that the Supreme Court will vote overwhelmingly to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. On one level, it seems like a no-brainer. I don’t even understand the constitutional argument for upholding it.

But gay activist and liberal pundit Dan Savage called out the lie in that kind of thinking, “Thomas, Alito, Scalia: they will twist themselves into any shape to avoid—I think—overturning DOMA. I think they’re partisans and I think they’re Republican hacks and I don’t think they’re justices who can be trusted to do the constitutional thing. I have no illusions; it’s going to be very close; it’s not going to be Brown [v. Board of Education].” Of course he’s right. I am, however, curious to see what those jackasses will come up with to justify their bigotry.

I bring up Dan Savage because I was reading about him this morning in Kathleen Geier’s excellent The Siren Song Of War: Why Pundits Beat The Drums For Iraq. Savage is generally a pretty good supporter of liberal causes. But has was a liberal pro-war pundit in the lead-up to the Iraq War. And his 2003 call-to-arms is a repellent read, Say “YES” to War on Iraq. This reminded me that for years I’ve thought that the gay community generally is not long for the liberal movement.

Soon, gay rights will stop being a political issue at all. That’s as it should be. But I don’t think that someone being in favor of gay rights makes them a liberal. And as we move into the future, we will see increasing numbers of gay pundits slip away from liberal causes as they become unmoored from gay rights. Savage is especially likely, given that his politics often tend toward the center and even conservative.

On the other hand, there are activists like Urvashi Vaid who was also on Up with Chris Hayes. She said what I’ve been saying about the Rob Portman policy change, “I’m not in the same movement as Rob Portman. I’m happy that he loves his gay son and wants to now eradicate a barrier. But so many of the things he still stands for are antithetical to the lives of many LGBT people.” Right! Because if your concern is about “the people” more than “the cause” you will always be a liberal. And if I had to choose between Urvashi Vaid and Dan Savage, I would pick Vaid any day.

So I don’t mean to suggest that all our gay brothers and sisters are going away. Just the marginal ones. Anyway: the Republican Party is badly in need of an influx of new blood that, while wrong on a lot of issues, is not crazy. I look forward to having a loyal opposition, even as I mourn the inevitable loss to the liberal movement.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Farewell Gay Liberals

  1. When I was 13/14 or so, I was hanging around the biology lab after school with my fellow nerds. We were trying to do extra work for extra credit, of course, because we were super-competitive with our classmates. We were also super-competitive with each other, everyone trying to best the others’ test scores, jokes, etc.

    We were trading gay jokes, as 13/14 year-olds (who have no success with girls) are wont to do. In walked our biology teacher, and he commented, "most of my gay friends are smarter than the average person."

    THAT stopped us cold. Call someone else "smarter?" Now you’re hitting us where it counts. I challenged the teacher, saying, how could one random group of people be smarter than any other group?

    "They have to be smarter, to put up with all the stupid abuse they take." He wasn’t saying we were stupid — we would have dismissed him right there if he had — but he said our comments were, and it affected us. One of those formative moments which plants a seed for later (hooray for teachers!)

    I suspect today there’s more likelihood that someone is able to acknowledge being GLBT both publicly and to themselves if they live among more accepting people. And tolerance levels are lower among the poor (less education, less interaction with a wide variety of social groups, etc.) If you’re gay in rural Wyoming you’re going to have a harder time of it than you would in NYC (not that it’s easy in NYC!) It’s harder for minorities than white people, and so on.

    The only upper-middle-class gay person I know (the others are all teachers, guess that biology teacher made an impact on me!) is a Democrat, but just barely — he hates the idea of universal health care, doesn’t want to pay taxes, etc. The minute the GOP comes around, he’ll be a Republican. And as you note, this is certainly a pretty widespread attitude.

    I think quite a few will remember their history, though, and stick with the side that was less hateful towards them. Like how some right-wing Jews are Repubs for foreign-policy reasons, but many more are still Democrats who remember that Repubs were the kings of anti-Semitism not that long ago. (In the civil-rights wars, Jews who came South to help were killed along with Black activists.)

    Savage — I love his books ("The Kid" is terrific) but, yeah, he’s fallen in with some shady company of late. Assist adoption agencies if one really helped you, Dan, but beware those anti-abortion creeps; they are NOT on your side.

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