Given that it's spring of an election year, one of the most beloved of all Republican rites is in full bloom: gay bashing. It's not enough that the state republican parties have specifically told gay men and women they are not welcome in the party, or that one by one, they are trying to amend state constitutions to prohibit gay marriage (which in most of these states is already banned by law); U.S. Senate Republicans have announced that they are planning, once more, to argue the need for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. This is a debate more urgent, they suggest, than the war in Iraq, immigration, education, or terrorism.
What's different this year is that it's not just the right-wing Republicans doing the bashing. The latest news is that the most gay-friendly of Republicans, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, is campaigning for arch-homophobes Senator Rick Santorum and Iowa's gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle. In fact, the few non-right wing Republicans left in the party are all out on the campaign trail, avidly supporting the most extreme anti-gay rhetoric of their fellow party members.
So once more, in response to the new gay bashing, comes the old question: Why would any gay man or woman belong to a party that has stated, over and over, as clearly as can be, without equivocation, that he or she is not welcome?
It's understandable why someone might not choose to be a Democrat. Those brought up in a family or culture where the traditional Republican party values were celebrated, such as smaller government and less taxes, might feel uncomfortable with the Democratic party (although these days it's the Republican party that seems to stand for pork barrel politics and large government).
But why specifically chose a party that loathes you? The answer is hard to fathom. Still, it's hard to avoid the self-hatred issue. Nearly all gay men and women are raised in families where there is little-to-no support for their core identity. So while self-loathing may be an over-used phrase, it's hard for most gays not to at least pass through a stage of wondering how they got that way, and whether it's some form of punishment (particularly for religious gays)--and hating it, and themselves.
Many gays work through these issues, and emerge into adulthood out as mature, self-accepting individuals.
But many gays never work these issues out. They remain in the closet for life, or enter straight relationships and opt for a life of secret encounters or self-denial. Some remain celibate. They accept the conservative societal view that homosexuality is wrong rather than natural, and they internalize that revulsion; instead of believing in the right to live a fulfilling life, they accept society's view that they have no rights.
Many of these man and women never come out, or if they do, they come out as Republicans, which is almost the same thing as not coming out at all. Gay Republicans can be among the most homophobic of all Americans. They may protest that they are not single issue voters, that taxes, terrorism, and trade matter more to them than gay rights, but that rationale doesn't wash anymore. In the days of a Republican party that embraced moderates, an argument could be made that the party might someday accept gays, or that by working from within, change could be achieved.
But no more. Today the bottom line is that there simply is no excuse left for any gay man or woman to embrace a party whose prime agenda is to stop him or her from enjoying the same rights as every other American.
Read George Bush's lips: The party doesn't want you. Can you hear that? It doesn't want you. You can't pretend any more that you can change it. It doesn't want you. You can't make a difference. It doesn't want you. If the Republican party was a night club, you'd be that poor schlub who never gets past the bouncer. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life standing in the rain outside of a party whose members are actively planning to hurt you?
That's worse than self-loathing. Today, that's just plain moronic.