Back in 2012, in the run-up to the November election, I decided it was time for me to get more politically active than I had been in the past. With the economic recovery a joke, the national debt and the size of government exploding, our relevance on the world stage dwindling, and a president who was running for re-election on a campaign that pitted different demographics of Americans against each other, I knew things needed to change.
Simply writing about my concerns once a week, and mailing in a ballot no longer seemed like enough. Thus, I volunteered to host my local precinct at the Republican caucuses in February, and I was later nominated and elected to serve at the Colorado GOP State Assembly & Convention as a delegate to help measure support for party candidates.
The event took place in Magness Arena at the University of Denver, and the thousands of attendees were a jumble of right-leaning thinkers, activists, and politicians from a variety of different backgrounds. Most people I met were pretty normal and friendly. Others bordered between the eccentric and just plain nuts.
Once the assembly began, Republican-affiliated organizations were given the opportunity to step up on stage and address the attendees in front of a microphone. After listening to a particularly long-winded speech, I got caught up in a conversation with the older gentleman seated next to me, so I missed the introduction for the next speaker.
Soon after the speaker walked up to the microphone and began his prepared remarks, many in the crowd began to boo. The boo caught on and began echoing through different parts of the arena.
“Did I miss something?” I asked the guy sitting next to me. “What did he say?”
“He’s with the Log Cabin Republicans—the gay group,” said the man. “He hasn’t had a chance to say anything yet.”
Watching the poor speaker standing there on stage, trying to keep his composure while being booed by the party he came there to support, angered me. It angered me a lot. It’s one thing to boo someone for something they’ve said. It’s an entirely different thing to boo someone merely for who they are. It was an ugly display to say the least.
It was a little comforting to see some of the other attendees applaud the speaker, and encourage him to continue. Heck, even the old guy next to me cupped his hands together and yelled, “Let him speak, dammit!” But there was a large enough portion of those in attendance booing to make me embarrassed of the people I typically vote with.
I consider myself to be a conservative. I believe in limited government, strong national defense, free markets, low taxes, personal responsibility, and individual liberty—the kinds of things that tend to unite all conservatives, including the Log Cabin Republicans whose website I copied and pasted the above principles from verbatim. Why any Republican would reject the support of those who share these tenants is beyond me, yet three years later, it’s still happening: Last month, the Log Cabin Republicans were prohibited from sponsoring the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
It’s stuff like this that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of independent voters who would otherwise consider supporting Republican initiatives and candidates. I’m reminded of this whenever someone learns of my political affiliation, and automatically assumes that I hold ill will toward gays. I don’t, and when I tell them that I’ve been a longtime supporter of gay marriage, they look at me like I’m suffering from a political identity crisis.
Part of this reaction is due to media-driven stereotypes, but a lot of it comes from genuine tastelessness on the part of many of conservatives in the way they address homosexuals. It’s one thing to be opposed to something like gay marriage—an issue that is debated from reasonable positions on both sides of the argument (though the country has largely already handed down its verdict on the matter). It’s another to hold gays in general contempt.
This contempt certainly isn’t exclusive to conservatives or Republicans, but it’s definitely more prevalent within those groups. While not always discriminatory, it is often degrading, and it largely comes from a religious point of view.
As I was reminded while reading through the hundreds of responses to a recent column written by the purveyor of this website, there’s little one can say to change the mind of someone who believes that homosexuality is a sin. It’s indeed cast as such in the Bible, and it’s that belief that has kept people tethered to the notion that homosexuality is a choice, and not a trait that people are born with.
You see, it has to be a choice because God would never create someone as a sinner; a sin is something that a person commits of their own free will. That’s the rationale behind the argument anyway.
Thus, many of those who adamantly subscribe to this belief feel compelled to offer alternative explanations as to what makes someone choose to be gay. The result is often a hodgepodge of breathtakingly insulting theories (like the one Dr. Ben Carson recently came up with) that portray those who spread them as obsessive, irrational folks who are desperate to demonstrate why homosexuals just aren’t worthy of the same respect as heterosexuals. The distasteful rhetoric is spread across public forums for the world to see, and it ranges from charges of mental illness to accusations of sexual abuse.
This attitude is the very type of thing that compels others to reject conservatism as a whole, and I’m perplexed by some conservatives’ commitment to it. Is this topic really worth investing so much time and emotion in?
After all, many things are described as sins in the Bible—things that we’re all routinely guilty of. Envy is a sin. Working on the sabbath (Sunday) is a sin. Any form of dishonesty is a sin. Yet, the sin mentioned fewer times in the Bible than just about any other is the one people choose to dwell on the most. Why?
I don’t get it. I don’t get it as a conservative, and I don’t get it as a Christian. Politically, all this division does is help the liberal movement. It pulls the GOP away from the “big tent” philosophy it has historically used to achieve great success.
Conservatives can’t make the changes they say they want without building coalitions. It’s seems to me that a simple attitude adjustment on the topic of homosexuality would go a long way toward doing that.
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