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.

An Open Letter to a Slightly Over-zealous Ally

Dear Slightly Over-zealous Ally,

First of all, thank you very, very much for your support of the LGBT+ community. It means a lot to me and to everyone out there that identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or vaguely-not-straight. And it’s amazing to see someone who is not LGBT+ be so vocal and supportive of the LGBT+ community in its pursuit for equality and recognition. We would never have gotten to where we are now without you, and we will not achieve our aforementioned goals of equality without your continued help.

However, you said one thing that I’m not sure I entirely agree with. You promised yourself that you will not get married until such a time when marriage equality is recognized in all fifty states, much like Jason Mraz and his fiancee Tristan Prettyman promised the press they would do.

Here’s the thing, though — while I, once again, applaud your effort to show your solidarity with the LGBT+ community, why would you deny yourself marriage? To me, this seems like poking your eyes out to show that you support people who are blind or cutting out your tongue to show you support people who are speech deficient. If anything, you should be getting married, now more than ever! You should be seizing the opportunity to marry now, and be vocal now, not when marriage is available in at least a few states.

To me, this is the same thing as being silent on the National Day of Silence, which is meant to show solidarity with LGBT+ (and other bullied) youth who cannot speak up and defend themselves. Why would you be quiet, when you can be vocal and advocate and defend these youth, if you can? Why, instead, would you chose to be silent when you can be vocal? Why would you chose to abstain from marriage simply because the government in your state (or, currently, the federal government) does not recognize the marital union of two members of the same gender as legitimate?

In early 2010, Sarah Silverman, an American writer, singer, actress, and musician, told The View that she would refuse to get married until same-sex marriage is legalized in all fifty states because it would be akin to joining a country club during the 1950s and 1960s that refused to allow African-Americans or Jews. I ask you: why, instead of refusing to join the club, would you not join the club and try to change it from within? Why, instead, refuse yourself the ability to enjoy the benefits of a country club entirely, when you can both be a member of the club and, at the same time, work within the country club to promote tolerance and acceptance?

The same applies for marriage. Refusing to marry as a heterosexual couple will not change anything. Getting married and being vocal about your support for marriage equality will cause change, even if in the smallest of ways.

So, in conclusion, I give you my express permission and blessing to get married to your future partner when you feel the time is right, and to not wait or abstain from marrying on my account — far be it from me to keep you from enjoying the rights that you and I both deserve, and far be it from me to keep you from enjoying the rights that you currently enjoy as a straight person. So please, show your solidarity with the LGBT+ community by getting married and by remaining a vocal ally of the LGBT+ community.

Thank you,

Amram

The Thriving LGBTQ Life & Cinema in Israel

Although Israel has yet to allow for civil marriages within the country (currently, you must either have a religious ceremony — any religious ceremony — or get a civil marriage outside the country that Israel promises to cross-honor), Israel is still the leading country in the Middle East regarding civil rights for those who identify as part of the LGBT community. In Israel, approximately 3/5 of all citizens support civil marriage for same-sex couples in Israel. Israel is one of five countries (the others are Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Cyprus), where homosexual intercourse between two consenting adults is not considered a crime.

Members of the LGBT community in Israel are protected under anti-discriminatory laws that affect the workplace, allow for adoption of children, allowed to serve as openly LGBT in the military, and are allowed to change their gender through HRT and SRS. In August 2009, when people inside Tel Aviv’s gay and lesbian youth center were massacred, Israeli former-president Shimon Peres and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the violence.

Last year, approximately 70,000 people marched in Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade.

Perhaps what epitomizes LGBT life is Tel Aviv, which is, in turn, epitomized by the flourishing queer cinema in Israel that takes place today — be it Tomer Heymann’s films about the LGBT community (such as Paper Dolls, which discusses a group of Indonesian transvestites working as dancers and cartakers to old Jewish men in Jerusalem) to Israel’s Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival (which is, ironically, floundering), LGBT cinema is thriving in Israel’s film industry.

In 2009, Gay Days, a documentary about the emergence of LGBT life in Israel, was released. Although I have not yet seen the film, you can do what I did and read the wiki on it here.

Earlier today, LGBT films made headlines in Variety. Additionally, Debra Kamin points out, Tel Aviv has become the go-to destination for LGBT nightlife

Tel Aviv, where 70,000 marched in this year’s Gay Pride parade, has long been a place where attitudes and dress codes are laid back and gay clubs are a prominent component of the city’s thriving nightlife.

So confident is Tel Aviv’s tourism association in the city’s appeal to the gay community that it recently launched a massive branding campaign, dubbed Tel Aviv Gay Vibe, hoping to entice gay and lesbian visitors from all over the world.

Tel Aviv hosts an industry that creates, produces and exports a disproportionate number of movies with gay themes and characters.

Despite Israel’s conservative government, Kamin points out, Israelis as a whole have been overwhelmingly accepting of the LGBT community — gays and lesbians were allowed to serve openly in the Israel Defense Forces for far longer than Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell has been repealed.

Although the Jewish Orthodox community (the community that the Israeli rabbinate) has yet to fully accept the legitimacy of the LGBT community (this controversy is for a whole other set of blog posts entirely), the three other major branches of Judaism — Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist — have all accepted the legitimacy of the LGBT community (the Conservative movement insofar as they believe it to be no worse a sin than any of the other sins the members of its community face — their words, not mine). Despite this, however, Israel remains at the forefront of the fight for LGBT equality within the Middle East today.