Former McCain campaign chief: marriage equality is becoming a conservative cause

Posted on 31 Aug 2010 at 6:44pm

This quote could put Joseph Farah into a padded cell:

“I think there is a growing mass of people in Republican politics who are fundamentally sick and tired about being lectured to about morality and how to live your life by a bunch of people who have been married three or four times and are more likely to be seen outside a brothel on a Thursday night than being at home with their kids… There is a fundamental indecency to the vitriol and the hatred directed against decent people because of their sexuality. People have reached a critical mass with this.”

– a prominent gay-rights supporting Republican making clear the growing hostility toward the social conservative element of the party

Sam Stein interviewed John McCain’s 2008 campaign chief Steve Schmidt, who is one of the heavy hitters fundraising for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which will hold a tony event on September 22 @ K per person.

“There is a strong conservative case to be made in favor of gay marriage,” former McCain campaign manager and fellow same-sex marriage fundraiser Steve Schmidt told the Huffington Post on Tuesday. “Marriage is an institution that strengthens and stabilizes society. It is an institution that has the capacity to bring profound joy and happiness to people and it is a matter of equality and keeping faith of one of the charters of the nation, the right to live your life.

“More and more conservatives are saying that opposition to gay marriage would not be a litmus test for membership in the GOP,” Schmidt added. “And more conservatives are making the case that no more do you want big government conservatives in the bedroom than big government liberals telling you how to live your life.”

Indeed, the stellar performance of the odd couple — Ted Olsen and David Boies — in demolishing the pitiful arguments of marriage discrimination advocates in Perry v. Schwarzenegger has finally brought out gay conservatives and allies to finally declare war on the fundamentalist wing of the party.

Even though the big money is coming out and the bible beaters are on the defense, the GOP still has a serious problem with its homophobic base. The party relies on the conservative churched to man its phone banks, send out those direct mail pieces and knock on doors. Mehlman et. al. coming out of their respective closets is not a policy or platform change in the Republican party when it comes to LGBT equality.

It remains to be seen whether this money and influence results in anything other than a boost for marriage advocacy. That’s welcome, of course, but what impact will this have on endorsements for the 2010 elections? Will these same attendees, including Mehlman, still give money to anti-gay candidates? Lasting change in the GOP will only occur if funds are withheld from those who would do harm in the cause for equality under the law. We don’t have to agree on all policy, but if equality is a shared goal, that spigot has to be shut.

On the Dem side, lasting change will only occur if we withhold funds from those who coast on the gAyTM and spin their wheels when we lobby them to take action.
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