Sherri Shepherd of ABC's "The View'" has not exactly been the most ardent champion of gay rights in the past, having supported Proposition 8 in 2008. But yesterday on the show she commented that if Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli -- who is intent on reinstating Virginia's Crimes Against Nature law -- really thinks oral sex (between any two people) is the same as gay sex, then she, a self-professed evangelical Christian, "is gayer than a gay two-dollar bill."
Is this really where the GOP is going in 2013, taking on straight sex too? And that raises yet another question: Is it time for a reporter to ask Cuccinelli, currently the Virginia attorney general, if he's ever engaged in cunnilingus or had anyone go down on him? Is American politics truly headed in that direction as the GOP defies political analysts as well as the beliefs and practices of the vast majority of Americans and continues to pander to extremists within in its base?
In 2012, we saw two political candidates who could not have been more starkly different on gay rights and some predicted it was the last time we'd see it. President Obama supported marriage equality, while Mitt Romney supported a constitutional ban on gay marriage. When Romney lost, and as polls showed majority support in the country for gay marriage, political analysts, pundits and even the Republican National Committee chair himself, Reince Preibus, predicted GOP candidates would need to change the tone on gay rights. After the Supreme Court's gay marriage rulings last month, the predictions only continued, with some even saying that momentum in the Republican Party is moving toward changing with the times.
But that doesn't seem to be the case despite three GOP senators coming out for marriage equality. After potential presidential contender Rick Perry's recent railing against the Boy Scouts, and possible presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul's warning that gay marriage could lead to marriage with "non-humans," we now have Cuccinelli doubling down in a debate over the weekend on his 2009 comments that homosexuality is "harmful" and "soulless." More than that, just when you thought there couldn't be two opponents in a race as vastly different on gay issues as Romney and Obama, the race in Virginia is simply incredible.
On the one side is Democrat Terry McAullife supporting marriage equality in a state with a horrendous record on gay rights but where recent polls show steady movement in the right direction, with 50 percent of Virginians now supporting gay marriage. And on the other side is Cuccinelli, who not only opposes gay marriage but is trying to bring back the "crimes against nature" law, banning oral and anal sodomy for everyone. The law was ruled unconstitutional earlier in the year by federal courts. But that doesn't matter to Cuccinelli, who launched a website last week which claims his effort is all about protecting children from predators. He's used a case of a man having sex with an underage girl in his push for reinstating the law that would ban sodomy between consenting adults, but with his attacks on homosexuality, Cuccinelli is clearly floating the heinous lie that homosexuals are child predators, hoping to stir the large Christian conservative electorate in Virginia.
The race reflects the two Virginias: diverse urban and suburban Northern Virginia vs. the white rural South. But in many ways it also reflects what is still two Americas on gay rights, despite all the polling we've seen, and the two vastly different directions politicians in the major parties are going on the issue in speaking to their bases, despite all the advice of analysts and pundits to the GOP.
Polls show the race tight with a large portion of the electorate still undecided. With the Crimes Against Nature law having included heterosexual sodomy, Cuccinelli's call to reinstate it, at least judging by Sherri Shepherd's reaction, obviously could inspire a "we're all gay now" mentality and backfire. But if Cuccinelli wins, it will only highlight the early signs we're seeing that gay-bashing is going to be a staple in the GOP for a long time, including on the GOP campaign trail in 2016.