On the Difference Between Being Pro-Gay and Indifferent

Earlier this week, as LGBTQNation reports, Chuck Norris published an article in AmmoLand.com (the full text of the article can be found here) that claimed that Obama was working to create a “pro-gay” Boy Scouts of America; he claims that there have been too many coincidences that correspond to Obama’s increasingly pro-marriage equality stance and James Tunley’s (the CEO of Ernst & Young and the only member of the board Boy Scouts’ board to say that gays should be allowed into the BSA) announcement.

As a bit of background, the Boy Scouts have repeatedly stated that openly gay scouts cannot serve as role models most recently in February 2002 (the text of this resolution can be found here), although they have never been explicitly banned from the BSA.

First, I should point out that, in the same press release cited above, the Boy Scouts said that they have a duty to instill values in youth, and that an “[A]vowed homosexual” cannot serve as an appropriate role model for the youth that go through the BSA. According to Norris, the Boy Scouts of America can reserve the right, under the First Amendment, to deny gays, atheists, and agnostics the right to serve as role models or leaders in the BSA (according to the press release, this is not something that can be decided by individual scout chapters).

It’s here that, I guess, would be a good place to differentiate between being “pro-gay” and being indifferent and treating everyone with the same equal rights that should be afforded them.

This blog, I would say, is “pro-gay.” In it, I explicitly advocate on behalf of the LGBT+ community, and advocate for equal rights for gay and lesbian couples, be it in regards to civil marriage or in a religious setting (like a synagogue). I do so unabashedly. In comparison, allowing openly gay scouts to serve as role models for younger leaders would not, in any way, shape, or form, endorse the LGBT+ community. It would be sending out the message that sexual orientation has nothing to do with one’s ability to instill traditional virtues into younger scouts — values such as integrity and equality, which I think are traditional leaders for anyone and everyone. Allowing LGBT+ scouts to serve as role models would not, in any way, say that scouts should march in Pride Parades or go partying in gay bars. It would simply show that effective role models and leaders are judged by the content of their character as opposed as whom they love. That’s not being “pro-gay” — that’s not even special treatment. That’s just being indifferent.

If the Boy Scouts of America wanted to be “pro-gay,” they would create programming specifically geared toward including LGBT+ scouts or funding programming for LGBT+ students. If they wanted to be “pro-gay,” they would create medals and awards for LGBT+ scouts and specifically for them. Allowing openly LGBT+ scouts to assume leadership roles within the BSA would not, in any way, be endorsing the LGBT+ community — instead, it would be showing that sexual orientation is not something that affects the virtues necessary for leadership within the BSA. In fact, showing younger scouts that sexual orientation is not something that is used as a factor in determining a leader would be sending out the message to younger scouts that it, too can be the same character-molding experience that it has been for so many other people before them, people like former President John F. Kennedy, who had this to say about the Boy Scouts of America at their 50th anniversary (this text comes from the same article that Norris wrote):

It has helped to mold character, to form friendships, to provide a worthwhile outlet for the natural energies of growing boys and to train these boys to become good citizens of the future. In a very real sense, the principles learned and practiced as Boy Scouts add to the strength of America and her ideals.

These ideals are not preserving the Bible or religion. These ideals are the creating of the Great American Melting Pot, a place where everyone was offered the same opportunity.

If the Boy Scouts of America really embody and encourage American ideals, then it is time for it to show that, so too, LGBT+ scouts have the same opportunity as their straight counterparts in the organization. If they truly to foster these American values, then they have the obligation to offer gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender scouts the opportunities for leadership and judging leaders based on their character, not on their sexual orientation.


A Defense of Conservative Gays Endorsing Mitt Romney

Although I don’t personally endorse Romney — nor am I even old enough to vote — here’s my approach to why GOProud would continue to endorse Romney even after Obama announced he supported marriage equality, whereas Romney continues to refuse to.

This past Wednesday, conservative gay political group GOProud announced that it endorsed Romney for the 2012 upcoming presidential elections. The group said that they will continue to endorse Romney for his economic policies, although they do disagree with his social policies — namely, his refusal to endorse marriage equality or even domestic partnerships or civil unions.

As someone who has been on the more liberal side of politics from the time I could tell the difference (which coincided with the 2008 elections, where my middle school held a mock debate and elections and I was McCain — I won, by the way, in a 3:1 landslide victory. Many of my peers were crushed when the actual elections did not turn out the same way.),  I guess I owe it to myself to try and find a reason for why GOProud would endorse Romney.

Now, to be clear, the only reason that this is striking is specifically because Obama has recently announced his support of marriage equality. Before then, it really didn’t matter when it came to the presidential elections, as no candidate has ever before endorsed marriage equality.

While the presidential candidates that ran on the Republican tickets for the upcoming elections seem rather, shall we say, lackluster stances when it comes to marriage equality (with the notable exception of Ron Paul), it is important to note that marriage equality is not everyone’s top issue, even if they are themselves LGBT+ and would directly be affected by a president’s refusal to support marriage equality.

Second, and perhaps more convincing, there is a new and growing push among conservatives to support marriage equality. The reason cited by these conservatives is that supporting marriage equality is not necessarily in line with the Republican platform insofar as marriage equality would allow gays to vote, but, instead, it would fall directly under the libertarian belief of limiting government control over who does what in our country. By specifically refusing to support marriage equality, the theory continues, Republicans are contradicting the very libertarian beliefs that they have adopted for their economic policies. (This same libertarian philosophy, by the way, could also be applied to other social policies, such as abortion.)

Now, why don’t Republicans — specifically, Mitt Romney — support marriage equality? There are several reasons.

The first is the fact that the Republican Party, overall, is effectively in bed with the Christian right, which greatly inhibits their ability to support or endorse something that runs contrary to the Christian faith. Separation of Church and State aside, supporting marriage equality would leave the Republican Party without the support of the Christian right, leaving the Republican Party without a key group that has supported them for several decades, and leave that same key group that is the Christian right disenfranchised from the political system, which is something neither group would want — and Mitt Romney has caught so much flack for his Mormonism that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for him to further alienate the Christian right.

The second and perhaps more pressing reason is the ever-increasing partisanship of American politics to the point that neither major party is willing to compromise on issues. Author and vlogger John Green of the Vlogbrothers did a vlog back in April about the lack of will on either side to compromise, citing the lapse of funding of the Federal Aviation Administration, Medicare, and highway planning as just a few examples of issues that one party refuses to let go of despite the need for reforms. The same holds true for marriage equality: as one party (the Democratic Party) becomes increasingly supportive of the idea, the other party (the Republican Party) will become increasingly hostile to the idea. In doing so, it will become more and more difficult to get anything passed in Congress, as the two parties are unable to agree on an issue and work together, across party lines, to resolve the issue. Instead, the two parties will continue bickering and refuse to let go of their stance, either for ideological reasons or out of fear of losing key supporters.

In that vein, in a way, it’s actually good that GOProud has endorsed Romney. By showing that the LGBT+ community can defy the stereotype of being politically liberal and endorsing a Republican (read: politically and socially conservative) candidate for this election, we can actually begin to bridge the gap of partisan politics and move toward finding a bipartisan issue to agree on and work together to solve. GOProud has shown us that, one day, we could make marriage equality a bipartisan issue and has shown the Republican Party that support of marriage equality does not preclude one from a political affiliation, nor does it force a person to define his or her political affiliation solely on the issue of marriage equality. One can only hope that other groups can bridge the gap left between the two political parties on other issues, too, or for other LGBT+ groups to endorse Republican candidates, thereby, in a way, forcing the two political parties to work together on the issue to make marriage equality legal on a federal level.