cognitive dissonance

Today’s Times has an article (“Gay and Republican, but Not Necessarily Disloyal to President”) about gay Republicans who have decided to continue their support for Bush and to vote for him come November, despite his call for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Now, at some level I understand the concept that a given gay person might consider their ability to get married to be less critical than their personal economic situation or the greater economy, terrorism or other political issues, but it’s very difficult for me to see how they could continue to ignore so blithely such a clear and consistent rejection and antipathy from the Republican party (or how they can consider Bush to be particularly good for the economy or against terrorism–I sure as hell don’t feel any safer now, though I certainly feel a lot less free–but that’s another post). Nor can I understand how they are able, as several gay Republicans are quoted in this article, to so easily separate their personal–what they call their “private,” though this administration has made it anything but–lives from their professional activities. The article notes, for example:

Mike Smith, the former executive director of the Colorado gay and lesbian community center, who became friendly with Ms. [Mary] Cheney in her old job as liaison to gays and lesbians for Coors Brewing, said that in the 2000 race he asked her how she made peace with her father’s politics. “She said they have a very close relationship, and that he had come to understand her and to love her partner,” Mr. Smith recalled. “She had tried not to involve his political life and her private life, in the same way she felt that her own work life was separate from her private life.”

When your father’s political life suggests that you are a less valuable citizen of the community, and that your relationship is worthy of being singled out for Constitutionally-mandated discrimination, how do you separate it from your personal life? Precisely what kind of “love” and “understanding” does a father have for his daughter and her partner when he is willing to write into the Constitution that their relationship is of an inferior degree?

The article continues:

In the last election, Mr. Bush did little to court gay voters. He appeared at Bob Jones University, an evangelical Christian college that teaches that homosexuality is a sin. He refused to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans. And he opposed some legislation intended to protect gays from discrimination. But after he was elected, he appointed a handful of gays to his administration.

Brett Robben, another gay friend of Ms. Cheney’s in Denver, who used to work in Washington, said he learned to discount antigay statements from politicians. “Those stands were more for the constituents back home,” he said. “It wouldn’t be that offensive because it was just, you know, politics.”

What? We don’t generally forgive racist, sexist or otherwise hateful or ignorant pronouncements by our legislators as “just politics” for the folks back home. Why are these gay Republicans, then, willing to give them a pass for their antigay remarks?

Ingrid E. Barnes, a lesbian who is associate director of undergraduate admissions at Pace University in New York and a Republican, said she was shaken but not necessarily deterred from voting for Mr. Bush.

“I believe in small government,” Ms. Barnes said. “I believe in taxpayers holding on to their money. I believe in individual responsibility.”

She added, “I think we need to work against this amendment passing, and I think we have to stand with our president on the national level.”

Let’s put aside the bizarre implication that Bush is in any way a force for smaller government, or for individual responsibility. But how exactly do you do both these things? How do you simultaneously stand with the president and work against him?

And then there’s the gay Republican, in a long-term relationship–whose viewpoint I found most frightening, most incomprehensible and most reprehensible in this article–for whom the right to carry a handgun apparently is more important than her right to marry the person she loves:

As a lesbian in a long-term relationship, Margaret Leber objects to the idea of amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

But Ms. Leber, a software engineer and a registered Republican in Jeffersonville, Pa., is also a member of the Pink Pistols, an organization of gay and lesbian gun owners, and marriage is not the only issue on her mind.

“Right now, I am leaning toward Bush,” Ms. Leber said. “All the Democrats just rolled into Congress to vote for this gun-control bill. Somebody with my values and beliefs can’t be a single-issue voter.”

One thought on “cognitive dissonance

  1. Bush’s handling of the “war on terr’r” has been atrocious and Iraq was a pointless distraction from getting al qaeda. His government is getting larger and more intrusive, not smaller and more laissez faire. There is no logic with these people. None.

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