Last weekend offered two prime examples of how the political right’s treatment of gay and lesbian Americans is increasingly incoherent.
As we reported last month, Texas Senator John Cornyn agreed to speak at a September 21 national fundraising event for the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), an organization of gay Republicans. LCR has been working to overturn the policy barring openly gay and lesbian military servicemembers, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). Cornyn, who is chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, showed up to speak at the LCR event the day after he and fellow Senate Republicans successfully blocked repeal of DADT.
Repeal of that policy has the support of the Obama Administration, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the current secretary of defense, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and substantial majorities of both Democratic and Republican voters in the most recent national polls. But congressional Republicans apparently are too scared of religious-right demagogues to support repeal.
Cornyn opposes not only the repeal of DADT, but also marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Even so, the senator says he told the Log Cabin group he believes “every person is entitled to be treated with respect, and I think part of respect is to acknowledge differences where they are, where they do exist.” In seeking common ground with LCR, the senator suggested that all Republicans can agree on the importance of limited government, lower taxation, free trade and laws that facilitate economic development, economic growth and job creation.
Well, if he won’t support repeal of DADT and equal rights for gay families, will Cornyn at least publicly criticize the Texas Republican Party for refusing even to allow Log Cabin a booth at its state convention? Will he criticize the 2010 Texas Republican Party Platform’s vile attacks on gay and lesbian citizens? The platform opposes health insurance or retirement benefits for the same-sex partners of employees, condemns gay people as “threats to family, public health and society” and calls for criminalizing consensual, intimate relationships of same-sex couples. Where is respect and common ground in any of that, Sen. Cornyn?
The same weekend Cornyn was meeting with LCR members, right-wing hate-monger Ann Coulter spoke before a similar group, GOProud. Social conservatives also attacked Coulter for speaking at that event. They needn’t have. Coulter treated her audience to a speech that mixed a rejection of marriage for gay couples with racially tinged rhetoric about welfare, strident opposition to sex education and a call to repeal laws on no-default divorce. “Marriage is not a civil right,” she condescendingly told her audience. “You’re not black.”
The well-heeled attendees at the GOProud fundraiser mostly brushed off Coulter’s remarks, explaining that they mostly care about fiscal and economic issues anyway. We’re sure that made Sen. Cornyn smile. After all, that’s the kind of “common ground” he seeks — especially if it helps keep religious-right critics off his back.