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Log Cabin (Republican) Syrup

April 23rd, 2009 1 comment

A gay friend of mine moved from New Haven, CT (he was a Yale professor) to Columbus, Ohio for a year. His dating life, he told me, was a disaster: “Every guy I met told me on the first date that he was a Log Cabin Republican.” There were no second dates.

http://www.otrcat.com/z/log_cabin_syrup_1938.jpg

For  those who don’t know, the Log Cabin Republicans are a gay advocacy group that, roughly, adheres to certain “old school”  Republican values like lower taxes and limited government (federalism, as convenient, too) while pressing for LGB (but not always T) equality. They’re mostly a bunch of well-to-do white guys. Their argument for existence is that they can work within to transform the Republican Party in what is, after all, a two-party system.

I’m not one of them. My politics are decidedly to the left, and I generally favor a substantial role for government in working towards social justice (while realizing the limits of this reliance, the benefits of markets,  and the importance of grass roots advocacy and effort). And my  view of the group wasn’t exactly improved after an argument in 2004 with one Log Cabin member who, to my astonishment, supported Bush over Kerry, even asserting that there was “no difference” between them on gay issues. We were (not close)  friends before this, not at all after that.

But there he was in late 2008, at a March for Equality in Philadelphia. We walked together. He stated that he’d been an Obama supporter, and that the Republican party was in danger of becoming a “fringe.” I then regretted my boorish behavior in 2004 (I wasn’t exactly civil, I’m afraid) and sent him an email of apology. His response was more than gracious, and he owned some responsibility, too. I wisely refrained from asking about his continued association with the Log Cabin.

Now I’m feeling a bit more charitable towards the group. A recent story reported that the Log Cabin had been involved in getting the leadership of the Republican Party in the New York Senate to allow its members to “vote their conscience” on the pending marriage equality bill. Given that at least four Democrats are poised to vote “no,” this step could spell the difference between success and failure. It would be neither fair nor charitable to deny that the group has had success in galvanizing what’s left of the moderate wing of the Republican party; as a sign of their effect, they and Meghan McCain apparently have a thing goin’ on, too. If she’s the face of young Republicans (or at least enough of them), then we can have a legitimate debate about policy that takes equality as a given and moves on from there.

But I’m still not syrupy sweet on the Log Cabin. They support formal equality, and their blog lists some recent accomplishments at the state legislative level that are, frankly, impressive. But what about addressing the deep and underlying inequities of race, gender, and even sexual orientation  and gender identity? Formal equality doesn’t really get to those messier issues. Marriage equality won’t help an adult woman who needs time off to take care of her ailing sister or grandchild, neither of whom is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. A law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace doesn’t address the issue of whether employees make a living wage.

But they’re not the only group that focuses on formal equality, and, if I’m being fair about it, they seem to be making more inroads lately than the national, non-partisan Human Rights Campaign, whose efforts on hate crimes, anti-discrimination laws, and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act have yet to bear fruit. (Here’s an example of their behind-the-scenes achievements, though.)

So am I ready to enter a post-partisan era? Nah.

Exact Change is Appreciated

March 1st, 2009 No comments

This coming Thursday the California Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in the case challenging the validity of Prop 8, which purported to rescind the marriage equality that the court had granted in May of 2008. So I will offer a Blog in Three Acts, running Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

I have at least one serious topic to post before that, but for today I thought something lighter (it is the weekend) might be in order. How about the imminent, and likely utter, collapse of the American and global economies. (Think I’m exaggerating? I would have thought the same before I listened to this downer of a show. “Bad Bank,” Feb. 27-March2).

Yes, there is a lighter side. As you may have read, many states are trying to come up with novel revenue sources, suggesting taxing “things” from marijuana sales (yes, even though they’re illegal) to prostitution (legal in certain parts of Nevada) to pornography. (This last met with unexpected resistance, when the lawmaker who dared suggest it was besieged with phone calls by “people call[ing] up saying their marriages would fall apart.” And we’re worried about same-sex unions?) Apparently, taxpayers won’t put up with increases in the sales or state income taxes, but taxing what were once vices [but] are now habits can be slipped past the populace.

Clearly, government is taking its cue from private industry, and here airlines are the best model. On Thursday, our family flew from Philadelphia to Orlando. As this was my first flight since a year ago at this time (we’re now bound to visit both sets of grandparents annually), I wasn’t fully aware of how comically irrelevant the actual air fare (cheap!) has become.  Here are some of the a la carte charges:

  • You’ll be charged for each checked bag. Thinking about not checking a bag? Gone are the days when people successfully carried on sarcophagi large enough to accommodate floor lamps, toolsheds, and the occasional deceased relative. Now the bin into which the putative “carry on” must fit holds approximately seven (7) M & Ms.
  • Soft drinks on USAirways are $2. Cocktails, which sold briskly, cost $78.50.
  • Want a blanket? Leg room? You’ll pay. People with leg room need larger blankets, of course, and these cost double.
  • Oxygen masks are a reasonable $17. When there was a sudden drop in air pressure, I was delighted to learn that kids under age six (we have four-year-old twins) get a two-for-one-deal. The guy next to me, apparently willing to play the odds, neglected to bring exact change. His heirs have learned a valuable lesson.

I’d write more, but I’ve run out of quarters to deposit in the side of my computer.