Politicians contradict themselves left and right as they dance around GLBT issues
It is amazing how many politicians claim they support equal rights and oppose discrimination against gays, but then favor a ban on same-sex marriage, oppose allowing gays to serve openly in the military, even oppose adoption by gay couples.
Exactly what is equal about letting heterosexuals marry the person they love, but not gays; letting heterosexuals serve openly in the military, but not gays; and letting heterosexuals adopt children, but not gays not even letting them adopt gay youths?
I don’t know about you, but I am getting a little tired of people who say they are for gay legal equality except when they are against it. Tired of people who say they are against discrimination except when they are for it.
I am tired of hearing people use all sort of verbal evasions to wriggle out of acknowledging how anti-gay they are.
My favorite evasive phrase is “unjust discrimination.”
Take outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Please.
Romney says, “I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone, for racial or religious reasons, or for sexual preference.”
Romney not only opposes same-sex marriage, he also opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and ending “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Yet he says he is against “unjust discrimination.”
Romney advisor Barbara Comstock says he defends traditional marriage and opposes “unjust discrimination against anyone” but doesn’t see a need for “new or special legislation” on DADT or ENDA.
It is worth noticing that the Pope uses the same phrase saying he opposes “unjust discrimination” against “homosexuals.” And we all know how gay-friendly the Pope is.
Clearly people using the phrase hope to sound moderate and tolerant by creating the impression that they think discrimination is unjust and many gullible people do take them to mean that.
But what they actually mean is that they think only some forms of discrimination are “unjust” and those are the ones they oppose. But they think other forms of discrimination are entirely just and those they fully support. And, of course, they get to decide which kinds are which.
In other words, the term has no objective meaning. It is utterly empty. It means … nothing.
Romney is not the only presidential aspirant emitting evasions. Consider the nearly incoherent obfuscation by Arizona Sen. John McCain: “I do not believe that marriage between I believe in the sanctity and unique role of marriage between man and woman. But I certainly don’t believe in discriminating against any American.”
Asked by George Stephanopoulos if he were for civil unions then, McCain continued: “No, I’m not. But [the Arizona anti-gay-marriage initiative which he supported] did allow for people to join in legal agreements such as power of attorney and others.”
Question: “So you’re for civil unions?” McCain: “No. I am for ability of two I do not believe gay marriage should be legal. But I do believe that people ought to be able to enter into contracts, exchange powers of attorney, other ways that people who have relationships can enter into.”
But signing contracts, exchanging powers of attorney and “other” arrangements are rights that friends, business partners and every adult already has, so McCain is actually saying that he is not for anything beyond what already exists. But he is trying to seem “moderate” by saying what he is for, even if it is nothing new.
Thanks for, literally, nothing, Senator.
Moving to the other side of the aisle, consider former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Edwards described same-sex marriage as “the single hardest social issue” for him and said he had had a lot of “personal struggles” over the issue.
Oh, John, John, we feel your pain! How hard it must be for you to grant others the same right you have to marry the person you love.
Edwards said he favored civil rights for gays but that it was a “jump for me to get to gay marriage I am not there yet.”
So Edwards favors civil rights but opposes civil marriage. Apparently a civil marriage is not a civil right.
And he has the effrontery to teasingly imply that he might change his position but suggests no sort of reasons or criteria he would use in re-evaluating his position. Apparently it is all just a mucky ooze of subjective feelings.
And where is the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation?
The gay organization that should be monitoring these statements, publicly pointing out contradictions, obfuscations and evasions, sensitizing the news media to detect them and advising how to ask follow-up questions to force candidates to answer more clearly?
GLAAD is off partying with television and film personalities “Dancing with the Stars.”
Many of Paul Varnell’s previous columns are posted at the Independent Gay Forum. www.indegayforum.org
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, January 12, 2006.