Earlier this month, Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema earned the ire of his colleagues in the Michigan Republican Party and GOP reps across the country when he made the deplorable claim that “they (gay people) want free medical [care] because they’re dying between 30 and 44 years old,” repeating disproven, decades-old “studies” by bogus researchers. He also charged that gay individuals regularly commit insurance fraud, and belittled persons dying of AIDS.
It’s not the first time Agema has proclaimed his anti-gay bigotry: earlier this year he posted a note on social media castigating “filthy homosexuals” and criticizing efforts by the RNC to make the party more inclusive.
Fortunately, there are organizations working to build a more inclusive party. One of those is the Liberty Education Forum (LEF), the Log Cabin Republicans think tank that promotes a message of gay acceptance to conservatives and people of faith — in other words, those people who need to hear this message the most.
This week, LEF is distributing copies of my recent book, A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights, as an early Christmas present to every member of the RNC (including Mr. Agema), as well as every Republican in the U.S. House and Senate. The book’s basic message is that those who want to move toward legal equality for gay and lesbian Americans reflect not only the core Republican values of limited government and individual liberty but also represent a majority of Republicans. The books are accompanied by a “Dear Colleague” letter penned by Bob Kabel, the GOP’s first openly gay party chairman and current RNC Committeeman from Washington, D.C.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is a wide base of support for gay rights among rank and file Republicans. Recent polls show that nearly 60 percent of Republicans support either civil unions or same sex marriage, according to Fox News. An even higher percentage, 66 percent according to polling by Greenberg Quinlan, support employment nondiscrimination legislation, and only 37 percent support a federal marriage amendment; all starkly different positions than those laid out in the party platform and held by the great majority of Republican officeholders and party officials.
Given the fact that Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, the need for the party to engage groups not now part of the traditional Republican coalition should be apparent to all.
The books will arrive, therefore, not a moment too soon. The GOP is at a crossroads: Will it continue to reflect only the views of a shrinking bloc of voters, those who believe the government should actively promote and subsidize people it likes and oppose those it doesn’t, or should it live up to its more libertarian heritage of live and let live, the belief in the primacy of each individual making his or her own choices in life rather than being compelled to follow someone else’s values and personal beliefs by government force?