My parents have been very supportive of me since I came out of the closet five years ago. However, they are not very politically savvy.
They are supporters of Bush (unfortunately) and have not really presented me with a good argument why they are. They feel the President can only do the best job he can and would be prudent (ha ha) to lie when necessary to the American public. I, on the other hand, despise Bush.
My question is: How can I hopefully convert my parents?
Great question, and one that gets to the heart of an issue that plagues many of us. Reasonable people can disagree about tax cuts, but why the hell would our family and friends support a candidate who can harm us personally and strip us of our rights?
I believe the reason is that for most people––particularly those who are not part of a minority group––the stakes just aren’t as high they are if you’re gay in America at the current moment. Many people can actually respect and love people in their lives who are in the opposite party without taking it so personally. How people can divorce their politics from the impact it will have on loves ones in their lives is beyond me, but it is clearly what a lot of people do.
When I think about couples like Mary Matalin and James Carville, it completely wigs me out. Are they complete frauds? Or, as passionate as they may be about politics, do they not connect their political differences to any devastating harm that could result in their own lives? The only conclusion I can come to is that, no matter how much they may have differing political philosophies, they don’t actually believe that the party the other one supports is hell-bent on destroying either of them personally.
But if you’re gay, looking at the current Republican Party which is promoting an amendment to Constitution that would enshrine discrimination, how could you not take it as an attack on your rights?
So, I think you really have to sit down with your parents and go over the issues. This isn’t about tax cuts or Arctic drilling or something else that, though detrimental, doesn’t impact your right to exist free of discrimination. Tell them about the Federal Marriage Amendment and how it strips you of your rights. If the marriage issue is a hard sell, you can also tell that that George W. Bush doesn’t support anti-discrimination laws––he would allow you to get fired from your job or thrown out of your apartment––and does’&Mac226;t even support hate crimes laws that would increase the penalty if you get gay-bashed on the street, something that is a reality. Also, tell them that he supported sodomy laws in the past, which even the Supreme Court recently struck down.
The key is to bring these issues home and define them as issues that could harm you, their child. I ca’&Mac226;t imagine that if it’s framed right, particularly since they are supportive of you as a gay person, that they won’t rethink their positions.
I have found it really interesting that the White House has been hedging about this marriage amendment. What’s the deal? They keep saying they’re going to look at the constitutional process and the idiot in chief said that in the State of the Union address. Then I hear that he’s about to back the amendment and religious leaders are going on and on about it, but still the White House hasn’t said anything.
Why are they being tentative?
None of us can tell for sure what is going on in the diabolical mind of Karl Rove, George Bush’s chief political advisor. But I believe, as I have said from the beginning of this debacle, that the Bushies are scared of this issue. Yes, backing the amendment unequivocally would fire up their base and they need to get those Bible thumpers fired up if they want to win. And yes, it’s true that some polls have shown a slim majority of Americans would favor a constitutional amendment.
Most people, however, aren’t going to vote on this one issue and certainly won’t want to see this issue focused on while other issues are obscured. And perhaps more importantly, while Republicans are overwhelmingly supportive of an amendment, independents, which include many “small government” libertarians, are pretty strongly opposed to an amendment. And it is independents who are the swing voters Bush has to worry about, perhaps even more than getting his base out. The latest Newsweek poll shows that independents oppose a constitutional amendment by 53 percent to 40 percent.
That’s why I’m betting that Bush is waiting to see what happens in Massachusetts. The state legislature, responding to the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision calling for same-sex marriage for gays, tried to hammer out a constitutional amendment last week but three attempts fell flat. If the legislature passes a so-called compromise amendment ––which would ban marriage for gays but somehow allow for civil unions––when it reconvenes its constitutional convention next month, Bush might not sign on to a federal amendment at all, perhaps claiming it’s not yet necessary.
Or maybe the president is waiting for a moment when he can signal his clear support for the amendment, but somehow do it under the radar.
At any rate, Republican insiders in Congress are saying they’re not sure they’ll even get a vote on it this year simply because the president, even if he comes out for it, won’t be pushing it hard. All of that tells me that the White House is nervous. And that’s a good thing!
Email Mike Signorile at Mike@Signorile.com.
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