The Gay Rights Vote

Via the Daily Dish: it appears as if the gay rights vote is no longer in the Democrats’ pockets. Jason Kuznicki of Positive Liberty has a long post about the rank failure of the Human Rights Campaign to do anything effective, which has gotten to the point that it doesn’t even identify itself when it calls supporters asking for donations. In contrast, he says, the free market has been tremendously successful.

“Conservative” corporate America just keeps on getting things right, both in their sales pitches to us and in the way that the big corporations are all rushing to offer equal treatment to gays and lesbians. Do you want an example of capitalists working to help minorities, while the government and the nonprofit sector both lag behind? Look no further. (Hosted, ironically enough, by the same HRC that doesn’t manage nearly so well with its own gays and lesbians…) If current trends continue, gays and lesbians may well be the test case that proves that employment nondiscrimination laws aren’t really necessary at all — take any sufficiently developed capitalist economy, free it from public or private coercion, and the profit motive may just be enough to end discrimination all by itself.

Obviously, some anti-discrimination laws are necessary, especially when passing is difficult or impossible. In the comments, Kuznicki suggests that this is the case: responding to a commenter who complains that HRC is not doing anything for transgendered people, he says that,

The stigma against transgendered people is vastly stronger, so much so that at times nearly the entire institutional weight of society is against them. When this happens, the case for government intervention is far more powerful.

My actual point isn’t about how important anti-discrimination laws are. I tend to follow the mainstream gay rights movement in the US in considering legal equality – military service, adoption, marriage – to be the most important gay rights issue. Rather, it’s about the fact that the Democratic Party has been allowed to take various socially liberal groups, including gays, atheists, and pro-choicers, for granted.

It’s a good thing that there exist libertarian gay rights activists who support the Republicans on most issues. It’s C. S. Lewis in reverse: gays, atheists, pro-choicers, etc., have the most influence when they constitute significant factions within both political blocs. Political parties don’t like to spend political capital on anything, except perhaps their leaders’ pet issues; they’d rather accumulate it, and with it, get more power. Activists who can say “If you screw us, we have another party to turn to” are invaluable for any agenda. It comes naturally to moderates, but not so much to groups like gay rights activists.

Instead, the left is acting like Dobson and tries to squash any non-Democratic support for gay rights. As Pam notes, when Republican State Representative Dan Zwonitzer helped kill an anti-gay bill in Wyoming and passionately called for equality, the HRC ignored him. Never mind that he gives Pam teeth when she tells the Democrats homophobia is a vote loser; he’s a member of the wrong party, so he must be shunned.

The 2008 election is a good opportunity to marginalize the Dominionist vote within the Republican Party. The Dominionists say they like none of the Republican primary candidates; Giuliani, Romney, and McCain are too liberal for them, and the lightweights and darkhorses all have some personal purity issues (Brownback is pro-immigration, Huckabee raised taxes, and so on). Giuliani in particular offers cultural liberals a tremendous opportunity to return the Dominionists to a position of political irrelevance.

Of course, it’s conversely a good opportunity for the Dominionists to establish a foothold within the Democratic Party. This is especially troubling since of the three serious Democratic Presidential contenders, the one who’s the most fundamentalist is also the one who’s the most electable.

Still, both parties have significant contingents that will do their best not to allow this switch to happen. Make no mistake about it, it’s a political fistfight; pro-choicers and gay rights activists just have to be better at it than the religious right in order to ensure that the Democratic Party does not make room for Dominionists. If Clinton were more electable or less conniving it would make sense to support her, since she actually cares about keeping abortion legal; unfortunately, she’s neither. But for what it’s worth, whenever some left-wing Dominionist makes an offer – “Sacrifice women and gays and atheists and we’ll vote for you” – a good start would be to point out that Independents aren’t into that kind of sacrifice.

3 Responses to The Gay Rights Vote

  1. SLC says:

    At this stage of the game, these polls are completely meaningless. They mostly reflect name recognition. The fact that the chattering classes have been talking up Mr. Obama has raised his name recognition which is why he suddenly appears competitive with Hilary. If they had been talking up Richardson or Edwards to the same degree, they would appear competitive. This is, aside from the fact that Zogby is a GOP pollster and thus his results have to be taken with a fair helping of salt.

  2. SLC says:

    As the attached column suggests, perhaps we should worry somewhat less about home grown Dominionists and more about Muslim extremists who have inflitrated US college campuses and are spreading their lies..

  3. Phil Thrift says:

    Gay (Republican) libertarians?

    I’d rather have lunch with a good old-fashioned born-again fundamentalist. At least I can figure them out.

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