Maggie v. Sullie
What was anticipated to be the equal rights version of a celebrity death match turned out to be, well, blah. Last week the CATO Institute hosted a forum on whether or not there is a place for gays in conservatism. In this corner – gay activist, author and columnist Andrew Sullivan; in the opposite corner, weighing in at… no, let’s not go there… anti-gay activist and president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Maggie Gallagher. At first glance this forum had all the makings of a first class match.
Maggie v. Sullie
What was anticipated to be the equal rights version of a celebrity death match turned out to be, well, blah. Last week the CATO Institute hosted a forum on whether or not there is a place for gays in conservatism. In this corner – gay activist, author and columnist Andrew Sullivan; in the opposite corner, weighing in at… no, let’s not go there… anti-gay activist and president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Maggie Gallagher. At first glance this forum had all the makings of a first class match. The forum was streamed live on the internet but, as of deadline, a limited selection of clips has been released for public consumption. One clip available at GLAAForum.org sets the stage well with the interviewer pointing out that conservatives in America have a long history of opposing equal rights for virtually any minority. Fade to Sullivan and Gallagher at the opposite ends of a table…this ought to be good… On hate crimes legislation, Sullivan finds them to be “a repellent attack upon individual liberty and freedom of thought…” Gallagher’s perspective wasn’t far off, saying there was room in the conservative movement for gays but questions whether Sullivan can see a place for the “40 to 60% percent of Americans that do see a big, looming conflict, particularly on the marriage issue” even though they do “want to live in an America where gay people are not afraid.” Why were they on opposite ends of the table? It sounded like they should have been sitting next to each other so they could hold hands.
GOP v. GOProud
If there’s still any question as to whether or not there’s room for gays under the conservative umbrella, let the meeting of the minds at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) cast all doubt aside. CNN’s coverage of the event included a brief introduction between GOProud and NOM attendees in which they discussed the potential for a beer summit later. Other attendees weren’t so genial, with one interviewed claiming that sex between people of the same gender “undermines the very civilization we’re a part of.” Earlier signs, such as protests by other attendees and the absence of such conservative powerhouses as Rev. Jerry Falwell, pointed toward GOProud being effectively gagged during CPAC even though they were co-sponsors. GOProud didn’t take it lying down – they unleashed their secret weapon: irony. In a sea of organizations seeking to abolish taxes, big government and its control over their lives, they sat in agreement.
The highlight of the event appeared to be the numerous jabs made at President Obama for his use of a teleprompter – jabs that were read from a teleprompter. There were also a few surprise guests at this year’s conference. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was taping her daily show in DC and decided to pop in. Her presence, aside from being accosted by someone who identified himself as “normal people,” was low key, unlike that of Elizabeth Cheney, who introduced her father, puppet master and former vice president Dick Cheney. The announcement of the puppet and the puppeteer swapping places at the podium brought the crowd to their feet chanting, “Cheney! Cheney!” Why not, “DICK! DICK!”?
Gay v. Gay
The battle between gay bloggers and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) wages on. Last week several bloggers initiated a blog swarm encouraging their readers to demand action from HRC on its lobbying to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). The action they’re demanding is unclear – it appears they expect HRC to put pressure on the White House to pass the repeal of DADT this year, which President Obama has already indicated he wants done this year. A statement HRC released following the blog swarms beginning claimed they are already doing everything that is being demanded of them:
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has to be repealed this year. That has been the Human Rights Campaign’s position from the start, and at this point there is no one in the White House who does not know it. We and the community to whom we are accountable agree: This is the year…
We firmly support including repeal in the annual Department of Defense Authorization bill, and have not only indicated as much, but continue to make that case, all while working to gain support for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act….
We have been lobbying the White House relentlessly, and we’ve seen more movement in recent weeks than in the previous 16 years.”
The most salient point made in the debate is over why the burden for action is being placed squarely on the shoulders of HRC – the general consensus appears to be that it is because that is what HRC is paid to do through the donations it receives. A fair point, except that there are more powerful players in this debate than HRC. We are all constituents of our elected representatives in the House and the Senate and of the President of the United States, the people who create, vote on and hopefully pass the legislation that will end the military’s discriminatory policy of discharging gay and lesbian service members. Let’s not forget, too, that there are other issues on the table as well, such as repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and passing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. These issues are all too important for us to pass on our responsibility to participate in our government simply by giving an agency a few dollars here and there and expecting them to do our bidding. Instead of picking up the phone and giving an operator at HRC an earful of commentary, pick up the phone, put pen to paper, or fire off an e-mail to your elected representatives. The sense of accomplishment will far outweigh the feeling you get when you write a check to someone else that wants to work with you toward the same goals.