Self Evasion of the Mind

When considering gay Republicans these days, I keep remembering a phrase used by a favorite professor of mine: “self evasion of the mind.” Watching gay Republicans is like watching some one continually return to an abusive relationship, eternally nursing the unfounded hope that the abuser will somehow miraculously change. Case in point, a gathering of Log Cabin Republicans in New York City for the party’s national convention.

Neither Specter or Weld discussed what the Log Cabin gang should do about Bush. The president’s embrace of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage has presented queer Republicans with a challenge. How do you support a fellow who would deny your most basic aspirations? On this warmest of hot-button issues, Bush has sided with the Terryish fundamentalist wing over the cosmopolitans of the Log Cabin. But the Republicans in this restaurant want to be part of the GOP action. “I’m very upset with the president,” Scott Schmitt, the communications director of the California Log Cabins told me. “How he approached the gay marriage amendment was very divisive. It was not in the spirit of how he campaigned in 2000. It was very offensive to the gay community.” Well, Bush in 2000 did welcome the support of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson in 2000, and used the religious right to squash Senator John McCain’s presidential effort. But history aside, it did seem that Schmitt was being unduly generous to Bush by complaining about how Bush has supported the gay marriage amendment rather than Bush’s support for the anti-gay measure.

More importantly, Schmitt, like others in the room, was quick to point out that neither John Kerry nor John Edwards have endorsed gay marriage. This is the lifeline for gay Republicans. Since there’s no difference between the parties on this contentious issue, they argue, why shouldn’t we stick with the party that represents our views on tax cuts, the war in Iraq and other matters? “As far as gays and marriage are concerned, you’re screwed either way,” said Carla Halbrook, a national board member of the group and a self-professed heterosexual. “The country is not ready for gay marriage. So I’m going to vote for a president that keeps me safe.”

It was some time before I recognized “self evasion of the mind” as the act of contorting the mind so as not to have to see or acknowledge what is obvious to anyone who simply looks. What better term to describe the position into which the Log Cabin Republicans have twisted themselves in an attempt to reconcile identity with ideology. It’s certainly debatable whether America is any safer under Bush since 9/11, as well as whether Bush can keep the country any safer than Kerry. But what gay Republicans seem to have consciously chosen not to see is the very real difference between Bush and Kerry on gay rights. Kerry opposes same sex marriage, but also opposes the constitional amendment banning it, which Bush supports. However, Kerry also supports civil unions that would give same sex couples the same rights and protections as married heterosexual couples. Bush has articulated no such position. His position on the FMA has been clearly stated.

The Log Cabin reception was something of a denial zone. It is true that Kerry and Edwards – and Hillary Clinton and other leading Democrats – run screaming from gay marriage as political and policy matters. But it is also clear that the Democrats do not abuse the issue in demagogic fashion and are not explicitly fueling and exploiting the obsessions of gay-bashers to win elections. The folks in this fancy restaurant are smart enough to recognize such a difference. They choose not to acknowledge it. [emphasis mine]

It comes down, I think, to a matter of just what it is that gay Republicans want, and what they are willing to compromise to get it. Is it security? While Ms. Halbrook, quoted above, seems to think that Bush will keep her safer as president than Kerry will, there’s little evidence that we are any safer under Bush than we were before 9/11.

Another gay Republican says, “We see there’s no distinction on the gay marriage issue…So I have to get over that…. If we abandon the party, it will never come around on gay rights. ” So, maybe there is some truly blind faith that the Republican party will come around on gay rights at some point down the line. Faith, in this case, would have to trump reason, because the Republican party has shown little, if any, likelihood of coming around on gay rights, anemic attemps like the starting of the Republican Unity Coalition (which—except for a statement on their website—as been strangely silent lately). Gay Republicans, and other moderates, even failed to get language stating respect for dissenting views on issues like gay rights and abortion into the party’s platform for this convention. So why do they cling to a hope that the party will miraculously reverse itself from a course its been on for decades now?

Theories abound, but I think it comes down to two basic factors, (1) wealth and/or (2) power—in the political and/or economic arena, coupled with the willingness to sacrifice integrity of identity to attain or maintain one or both factors. The reality is that if you’re able to attain and maintain one or both of the two, they serve as pretty good insulation against discrimination.

It’s a step away from another level of self evasion of the mind that we saw in the McGreevey story, and that we see again in a story that has quite a bit more irony than the McGreevey story.

Rep. Ed Schrock, a two-term Republican congressman from Virginia, announced that he would resign abruptly today, citing unspecified allegations.

Those allegations were that he was gay, and that several voicemail messages he left on a phone sex service came into the possession of gay activists, who posted one on their blog.

Schrock said only: “In recent weeks, allegations have surfaced that have called into question my ability to represent the citizens of Virginia’s Second Congressional District.” He would not elaborate on the allegations.

Over the past two weeks, a Washington-based Web site has spread claims that Schrock was gay. Rogers said on his Web site that Schrock had been recorded several years ago using a telephone service on which men place ads to arrange liaisons with other men, the Washington Post reported on page 2 Tuesday.

Michael Rogers, who runs the site, told a local paper he posted the allegations because of what he described as Schrock’s anti-gay voting record.

…Rep. Schrock was one of several dozen to cosponsor the Federal Marriage Amendment of July 2004, which aimed to constitutionally prohibit gay marriage.

A ranking Daily Kos member noted, “The National Journal ties him as the second most conservative person in all of Congress in 2003, behind only Dennis Hastert. A strong family man with a wife and kids, Schrock was a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment and opposes any possible rights for gay people, including non-discrimination in employment.”

The Virginia Pilot reported in October 2000 that Schrock favored ending the Clinton administration’s ‘’don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy on gays in the military, BlogActive said.

“He supports asking enlistees whether they have had homosexual experiences in an effort to to try to keep gays from serving. ‘You’re in the showers with them, you’re in the bunk room with them, you’re in staterooms with them,’ Schrock said.”

Schrock has a 92 percent vote rating from the Christian coalition, a 100 percent voting record from the right to life movement, and a zero percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign.

Just how much separates the Log Cabiners from the Ed Schrock’s of the world in the end? And why should either be acceptable to the rest of us in the gay community? Why should we simply accept the Ed Schrock’s fo the world, who would use elected office to make us second class citizens? Why should we simply accept the Log Cabin Republicans who would elect the Ed Schrocks of the world, thus aiding and abeting them in using rhetoric and elected office to legalize discrimination and foment hatred against the rest of our community?

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2 Responses to Self Evasion of the Mind

  1. Ben Khan says:

    Great post and here are my thoughts. I think that two things keep the gay Republicans faithful to the party. Faith that they can change the party from the inside that you spoke about and being “more than gay”. They see themselves as being more than “just a gay person” and wholeheartedly endorse the views of the Republican Party. But what they fail to realize is that by not being accepted they are not recognized as a person (which nulls first premise of joining the Party).

    I agree that we (as gay people) are more than “just gay”, but it is part of us and it is wrong not to acknowlegde us and think it’s okay to assault us with bats (see T’s previous post). Any Party that only sees you every four years and panders to you in between that time, is only using. It’s time to step away from that relationship. They’re not going to love you, acknowledge you exist and grant you the rights you are guaranteed. They need you more that you need them.

  2. trey says:

    I am completely unsold on the ‘I am more than just gay’ argument or the ‘i am not a one issue voter’ argument.

    Could a self-respecting jewish person have joined the National Socialist party in Germany only claimin “well, I’m more than just Jewish”

    Could any self-respecting African American have joined a party that advocates segregation only claiming “well, I’m more than just black”

    I mean, yes, of course they are ‘more’ than that part of themselves, but it is THAT PART of themselves that the party they are joining is targeting for discrimination and worse..

    no, i’ve lost all respect for gay supporters of Bush, they don’t have any respect for themselves.

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