How Conservatives and Gays Can Get Along
By Chris Suellentrop
Tags: Gay Rights
Writing at the blog of the Independent Gay Forum, Jonathan Rauch (the author of “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America”) links to an op-ed by Steve Lonegan, the Republican mayor of Bogota, N.J., that was published August 19 in The Record.
Rauch excerpts part of Lonegan’s op-ed:
Historically, gay Americans have struggled for the freedom to live their lives the way they choose in order to pursue happiness. This is the American Dream, the cornerstone of conservative thinking, and it is these principles that make the increasingly influential gay community the conservative movement’s natural ally.Rauch comments, “Sadly, it is just about impossible to imagine any nationally prominent Republican, gay or straight, make that statement as opposed to the kind of statement Sen. Larry Craig made (‘I am not gay’).”
Lonegan’s op-ed was written in response to “the passing of a constituent, friend and fellow conservative who also happened to be gay.” In it, he proposes a bargain to be struck among religious conservatives and gay Americans: “Gays shouldn’t expect government to foist acceptance of their lifestyle on others; religious conservatives shouldn’t expect gays to abandon an integral part of their being.” Lonegan also writes:
Barry Goldwater once remarked that government cannot pass laws to “make people like each other.” His words still ring true today. Labeling people “homophobes” or “bigots” if they refuse to accept the entire gay agenda creates political fractures that work against individual liberties and serve to keep gay voters in the Democratic Party’s political ghetto.----
The Republican Party must reestablish its commitment to the rights of the individual while respecting the moral code of one subset and upholding the freedom of another.
Conservatives have begun making a few limited defenses of Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho. Writing at The Corner, National Review’s staff blog, Jonah Goldberg says “Craig’s (alleged) behavior is terrible” but not hypocritical, despite the senator’s voting record on gay marriage and other issues. Goldberg writes:
I’d like someone to walk very slowly through the argument that it’s hypocritical to A) indulge in anonymous gay sex in seedy locations and B) oppose gay marriage. Last I checked, the common definition of hypocrisy involves saying one thing and doing another. Well, Craig wasn’t trying to marry anybody in stall #3 was he?
Goldberg adds, “That being anti-gay marriage and anti-gay are synonymous is a entirely a political argument that people are confusing for a philosophical truth.”
The real hypocrites in this scandal are the Republican senators who have called for Craig’s resignation but not for the resignation of Sen. David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, who admitted to using the services of an escort: “from any social-conservative calculus (or at least my social-conservative calculus) prostitution has to be considered a greater social evil than cruising for gay sex in bathrooms,” Douthat writes.
Douthat criticizes “the unfortunate extent to which socially-conservative politicians have focused their fire on gays, because opposing gay rights was for a long time an 80-20 issue for the Right (though no longer), while studiously ignoring the various beams in heterosexuals’ eyes.”
Douthat concludes that “[i]t’s a hard pattern to break, but the G.O.P. could find worse places to start than making sure that Vitter shares whatever political fate awaits Larry Craig.”