One thing that I have learned as a parent to two 10 year old boys—sometimes while a child sometimes says he wants one thing, he secretly may be hoping that he doesn’t get it. Their voices quiver as they ask for it, while their eyes say “get me out of this mess, Daddy!”
That is kind of what is happening these days with the GOP and the Supreme Court and their former favorite wedge issue, the denial of marriage equality to LGBTQ people.
It harkens back to election night 2012. That night, not only did President Obama win and the four marriage equality initiatives succeed, but the Republicans had no clue their loss was coming.
Lead by Karl Rove and others, they were unaware that their courtship with the Anti-gay community, a strategy that had elected George W. Bush and kept him in office, had now passed its expiration date and was going sour fast. Older aged Republicans, the demographic most likely to be anti-gay, were dying off, and that thanks to social media, younger and previously disenfranchised voters were now mobilized. More significantly was the fact that many of their own constituents and independent voters were becoming educated on what real LGBTQ families are, who we are, and as a result, were defecting from the fear on which Rove and his cronies banked.
Still, like my sons on occasion, they persist in pursuing something they know is not really good for them. They have arrived at the Supreme Court filing briefs that contain weak arguments practically begging the court, “Get our party out of this mess!” It is unclear how the Supreme Court will rule.
The GOP seems to subconsciously seek failure so they can acceptingly let marriage equality roll in, and then a few years hence, claim they were for it all along. That instinct is right. They should be secretly praying for a comprehensive, no holds barred pro-marriage equality ruling. Their viable political future depends upon it. Here are five reasons why:
1. They will stop scaring heterosexuals away from getting married: The rhetoric around what marriage is has been arguably inconsistent from the anti-gay community with each argument formed in a vacuum and contradicting other anti-marriage equality arguments. The pervasive common theme emerges however: that marriage should emulate a 1950’s ideal with a male macho breadwinner and a feminine bread-baking wife. Not only do each have their roles assigned by gender, but they are to not assume independence beyond those roles. Thinking and living heterosexuals have to be listening to these expectations and either deciding that such restrictions are not for them, or that a real working “marriage” does not require it. I believe it is more the latter, but either way, the anti-marriage equality crowd Is doing a poor job selling “tradition” even to their own.
2. They cease having to associate with people who are public relations nightmares: Certainly it is not lost on Republican insiders to whom their fellow bedmates are on this issue. All they have to do is look within their stack waiting for review at the Supreme Court: Among others, the Westboro Baptist Church and the Catholic Church hierarchy. Westboro has an image of nastiness while picketing the fallen heroes of American Wars, as well as the fallen heroes of the American AIDS crisis. The Catholic Church has just had a sacrosanct leader abdicate amongst rumor of sexual abuse scandal and mismanagement.
These are the people the Republicans want to be associated with and think they will maintain mainstream America’s interest? Not a chance.
3. If the Supreme Court rules conclusively, the Republican Party, can point fingers and sidestep the wrath of their base: Such a ruling would allow the Republican powers-that-be to bat their eyes and say to their base, “DARN those ‘activist’ judges! Here we submitted our (lame, non-argument) briefs and gave it a good (well, we showed up…sorta) fight. DARN those awful (Republican-appointed) judges! But hey… lets talk economy now…” Their hard-core base will then be in the conundrum the LGBTQ community used to be in… one party only giving your issues lip service while the other party ha declared war on them. The lip service guys win. The Supreme Court can offer the GOP lip service skills. The more reasonable part of the base will accept it. According to a new study by Respect for Marriage many of them already are.
4. Once marriage equality is no longer a divisive issue, the GOP can go after the Democratic base: Sure, there are Log Cabin Republicans, and GOProud Ann Coulter fan clubs, but the fact is 76% who identify with the LGBTQ community could not bring themselves to see past Republican anti-gay rhetoric in the last election. If that rhetoric gets dropped, then the GOP can start going after the family oriented, career minded white picket fence gay-friendly people. LGBTQ people are philosophically diverse. Satisfy the one unifying issue that we hold, and a percentage of us will be recruitable.
5. They will have more money: I have to admit, one of the most completely satisfying things of November was the huge flush of Conservative Cash down the political drain of “no effect”. Hundreds of millions went seeping into the American economy without a single return on the investment. That won’t keep happening, unfortunately, and the Citizen United ruling and “corporations are people” concepts are still alive. Without the marriage equality “boogey man” , future investments in Conservative Cash will not be so ineffectual, and they will have the extra cash to go after different issues. Somewhere in the Republican party, there has got to be a fiscally minded constituency that thinks that is a good thing.
As a progressive, I am not overjoyed at the prospect of a better funded, more diverse Republican party, even though I think in the long run it will be healthier for our country for my sons’ future. I also could be completely naive. The Supreme Court could issue a comprehensive victory to marriage equality, and the GOP might miss the silver lining they have been handed, and continue down their road to waste and decline.
One can hope.