We all knew there would be a gay moment of last Thursday's GOP Presidential Debate Games Night. We just weren't sure who would be the culprit in this round of Clue: Family Values Edition.
Would it be Marco Rubio in the Conservatory with the knife-edged Religious Freedom Protection Act? Or maybe Mike Huckabee in the kitchen with the poisonous wedding cake? Or possibly even Scott Walker in the Billiards room with his lethal Eagle Scout badges?
But no, we were all surprised to open up that tan envelope and discover that the real killer was Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the Ballroom with a fictitious lesbian daughter.
To recap: Megyn Kelly asked Gov. Kasich, "If you had a son or daughter who was gay or lesbian, how would you explain to them your opposition to same-sex marriage?"
Kasich's answer boiled down to an affirmation of traditional marriage, an acknowledgment that the Supreme Court had ruled on this matter and the admission that he both recently attended a gay wedding and that he would continue to love his daughters "if one of them happened to be that." To be clear, he truly said "that."
I expected my crazy, liberal gay Facebook feed to explode in derision. But, surprisingly, the response to Gov. Kasich's answer was strangely and bafflingly supportive. Some snippets:
- "Proud of my Governor tonight for his support of the LGBT community."
- "It took courage for Kasich to stand up there and say what he said."
- "Thank you Governor Kasich for moving the needle forward on LGBT equality."
Even my crazy, liberal gay media praised his response, calling his answer gracious and humane, evidence of how far the GOP has come and noting that it received the evening's biggest round of applause.
Holy hell, my fellow gays, have our standards truly sunk so low that we cheer any Republican stance that doesn't outright vilify us? Can we not shoot for better than this? I surely think we can but it would require us asking questions that move beyond loving our fake-lesbian daughters.
Great, Gov. Kasich would attend a same-sex nuptial, but does he support employment non-discrimination? Fantastic, Governor Kasich caught the bouquet at his daughter's imaginary gay wedding, but would he end the ban on gay men giving blood? Bravo, that sure was some scrumptious rainbow cake Gov. Kasich ate at the make-believe reception, but where does he stand on ending any and all barriers to same-sex couples adopting in this country?
If we ask these more pointed questions, we would see how his problematic and offensive answer at the debate was essentially akin to, "Oh! I have black friends too!" It's as if we're cheering Kasich's support for Israel because he said, "I spun the dreidel at a Hannukkah party once." Again, we have to reserve our praise for more outright support than this.
But, gays, here's the thing: The real culprit in that tan envelope wasn't really Kasich, but the question that Megyn Kelly asked. Again, "If you had a son or daughter who was gay or lesbian, how would you explain to them your opposition to same-sex marriage?"
If The West Wing taught me anything, it was that the real danger can always be found in the premise of the question. Why is it only we gays and lesbians who need same sex marriage opposition explained to us? Shouldn't this actually be explained to everyone? Don't Kasich's straight daughters need their father's stance explained in as much detail as his dim-witted gay children apparently require? Megyn Kelly's question is a insult to the idea of having allies, but we gays were too busy cheering a lack of condemnation to hear the inherent divide this question both presupposes and concretizes.
I'm all for imagining our daughters as lesbians (even if the candidate struggles to say the "L" word). I'm all for acknowledging that the Court has spoken. I'm all for recognizing that we're talking about the GOP here, so answers that don't condemn us are actually a step forward for that august group.
But let's not confuse progress with praise until a candidate steps up to that podium and states, "Every citizen is created equal and, as President, I would make sure that everyone is treated equally." We should not and must not cheer for anything less.