The revelation that former GOP chairman Ken Mehlman is gay was as shocking to the Republican inner circle as was the news that Lincoln had been shot. Sorry, tell us something we haven’t known for years.
Nevertheless, this non-event, and the stories that were written about it, come at a key time, a time when many on the right find themselves struggling as much with their own views on gay rights as Mehlman did with coming out.
The issue is being brought to the forefront, not by Mehlman, but by icons of the political right. Recently, invoking the principles of Thomas Jefferson, Glenn Beck shocked Fox listeners by stating that same-sex marriage was not a threat to this country. Ann Coulter drew headlines for accepting an invitation to give the keynote address at a gathering of gay conservatives.
The actions of Beck and Coulter have outraged social conservatives. But their actions, whether viewed as “pro-gay” or simply “live and let live,” are nothing new for many conservatives who, over the years, have stood for individual rights.
Barry Goldwater, who once told a reporter that every Christian should line up and “kick Jerry Falwell’s ass,” supported gays in the military. Goldwater noted that gays had served honorably in the military since the time of Julius Cesar and further quipped: “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”
Shortly after saying that, Goldwater died and presumably waited at the Gates of Heaven for Falwell’s arrival.
Time for the left to embrace Beck
“I’m a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”
These were the words of Miss California, Carrie Prejean, at the 2009 Miss USA beauty pageant.
Psych. Just kidding. Those are the words of Barack Obama from the 2008 campaign trail. No one really paid attention to Obama’s quote at the time because his primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, had the exact same position.
Obama got elected and immediately appointed Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state. At Clinton’s confirmation hearing, there was not a single question about her position on gay rights.
But, Prejean herself was demoted to runner-up at Miss USA and labeled “dumb” by Bill Maher. Go figure.
Between a beauty contestant, on one hand, and a president and his secretary of state on the other, one struggles to determine which set of boobs was more divisive.
Is Obama to the right of Beck, or vice-versa?
Both the right and left couch their opposition to gay marriage in terms of religion, despite the fact that marriage is, and has pretty much always been, statutory.
The state legislatures of this country have ruled on a state-by-state basis who can (and, by implication, can’t) get married. And those laws vary widely without any reference to religious dogma. Just ask any 13-year-old first cousins who need their parents’ signatures to procreate a family of single-eyebrow progeny.
Ignoring the statutory basis for marriage has caused confusion between the political right and the political left.
The political right, in the instance of gay marriage, should be defined by those conservatives and libertarians who clamor for states’ rights. In the traditional conservative model of federalism, each state would be free to define marriage any way it likes.
Unfortunately, too many of these erstwhile conservatives clamor for states’ rights with great vigor, until some liberal state legislature disagrees with them on the substance of the legislation that is passed. That has led many of them, ironically, to adopt the political left’s position on states rights — that is, an endorsement of federal mandates overruling state action. In this case, a federal ban on same-sex marriage.
Beck is on the “right” on this issue and should invite Obama and Clinton over.
Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.