August 08, 2002
Only Democrats use gay litmus test
The title is the headline of an editorial that appeared in the 1 August Orlando Sentinel. The occasion that provoked the column (written by the Orange County Republican party Chairman) was a statement by his Democratic Party counterpart that a gay person voting for (gay) Republican state house candidate Patrick Howell would be like a "Jew voting for Hitler". Absolutely disgusting.
I'm not sure how long the Sentinel keeps articles online, so here is the entire text of the letter.
I was shocked to read Doug Head's comment regarding Republican State House candidate Patrick Howell in Tuesday's Orlando Sentinel. Head said that a gay person voting for Republican Patrick Howell would be like "a Jew voting for Hitler."
Comparing any candidate to Hitler is so extreme, so vulgar and so desperate that it begs for a reaction of indignant outrage.
Fortunately, I do not think Head represents most or indeed any of his Democratic voters.
Furthermore, how can any party chairman regard any voting block as exclusively Republican or Democrat? Voters do not belong to me or to my party, like distinct herds of cattle.
How terribly presumptuous, not to mention condescending, of Head to Democratic voters, gay and otherwise.
We Republicans seek allies wherever we can get them, rejecting none out of hand. Ronald Reagan said it best: "Someone who agrees with me 80 percent of the time is a valued friend and ally, not a 20 percent traitor."
For my part as Republican Party chairman, I am happy to be supporting Patrick Howell, not because he is gay, but because he is a hard-working, long-standing Republican who intends to support the president, the governor, the House leadership and the Republican agenda. He will serve all of his constituents, not just 10 percent to 20 percent of them. The Republican Party, to its credit, doesn't care about Howell's sexual orientation. The fact that he has another unique connection with part of his district is simply in furtherance of that old bromide that "all politics is local."
When Republicans say we are a "big-tent" party of inclusion, we mean it. There are no "litmus tests" here. In Orange County this year, we are running many diverse candidates African-American, Hispanic and now one gay person. But all are Americans and Republicans first. This may cost us a few votes today. But the principles of "team play" and diversity are worth it tomorrow. That is why the Republican Party will continue to bring our message, complete with locally appropriate messengers, to every constituency that will give us a chance.
The final irony of this episode is that it sets back the cause Head, the Democratic Party and much of the gay community supposedly believe in so fervently: that of equality of opportunity.
A person's sexual orientation is not supposed to be relevant, and, yet, which party has officially made it an issue and a litmus test? The Democrats. And which party does not care? The Republicans. I am proud of that, and proud to be a Republican today.
To continue Head's terribly inappropriate Nazi analogy, he would be the one pinning the yellow stars and pink triangles on the voters and candidates alike, making sure that each stuck to its own.
How tragic it would be if anyone followed him.
Lew Oliver is chairman of the Orange County Republican Party.
posted on August 08, 2002 03:38 PM
I'm not surprised by this at all. As the left continues to slowly and surly lose it's grip on the "gay vote", it's doing anything and everything it can to demonize the Republican party, and try to guilt homosexuals into towing the party line.
To bad for the Democratic party on this one, but homosexuals are as different from each other as they are from straight people. We don't all vote for liberals, we don't all think that "gay" issues are the most important thing in deciding our party alliance, and even when we do, we don't all think that the Democratic party is the sure and true path to justice and equality for everyone.
The fact is, there are very, very few political battles left to fight when it comes to gay rights. Short of total marriage rights for gay and straight alike, there's not a whole lot left for the government to do. The real fight for gay rights is one that must be fought by people - changing social attitudes and gaining acceptance - not passing new legislation.
People who don't understand how a gay person could be a Republican fail to understand one basic fact about party politics - When I cast my vote for a candidate, I do so because I think that person best serves my purposes in the most pragmatic way possible. I don't have to love the candidate, I don't even have to like the candidate, I just have to believe that the candidate will serve my purposes, whether they know it or not.
It's true that many republicans may have discriminatory attitudes towards gays, just as I'm sure many democrats do. I'm sure I can find detestable individuals among the ranks of both parties - but that doesn't mean I abstain from voting. I want small government, free markets, and strong national defense, so I vote for a republican.
Whether or not I would like the person if I were to meet them at a party is of no consequence. Iím not shopping for a new best friend. When I evaluate a potential candidate for president, or congress, or whatever, I add up the ticks in the plus and minus column, and pick the guy who can stay in the Red.
I'm probably as conservative as gay men come, but I still would find it very, very hard to vote for a Republican.
I agree with the Republicans on many issues, but I just can't get past certain nagging issues, like, say, accepting me as a person as well as believing I should have the same rights as any other taxpaying American citizen? Why is it that, on the national stage as well as the Republican base in the South, candidates are afraid to reach out homosexuals? Instead, today's Southern Strategy consists of a wink and a nod to the party's religious right and a platform that is hostile to gays and lesbians.
Sure, the democrats are taking gays for granted just like they take the black vote for granted. But if you think helping to advance the Republican agenda is going to be any better, then you're sadly mistaken.