Monday, October 21, 2013

Powerful Donors Seek to Make the GOP Gay Friendly

With the Republican Party effectively in control of Christofascists - e.g., hate group leader Tony Perkins helped write the GOP's 2012 platform - the task of making the Party gay friendly will not be easy.  Or at least not until a few more generations of white evangelical Christian homophobes literally die off.  But this fact is not deterring some major Republican donors from trying to remake the GOP into a more moderate party not dominated by spittle flecked hate merchants.  Leading the charge is billionaire Paul Singer who this blog has mentioned in the past.  Here are highlights from a piece in the Washington Post that looks at this much needed effort:

Few elected Republicans support giving gays the right to marry. The party’s influential social-conservative wing sees “traditional marriage” as a defining issue. And while most major Democrats are rushing to embrace same-sex marriage, none of the most prominent potential Republican presidential candidates have taken that step.

But a powerful group of Republican donors, who see the GOP’s staunch opposition to gay rights as a major problem, is trying to push the party toward a more welcoming middle ground — where candidates who oppose marriage rights can do so without seeming hateful.

The behind-the-scenes effort is being led largely by GOP mega-donor Paul Singer, a hedge fund executive whose son is gay, and former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who revealed his homosexuality in 2010, long after he had left the GOP leadership.

Singer’s advocacy group, the American Unity Fund, has been quietly prodding Republican lawmakers to take a first step toward backing gay rights by voting for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The measure, which is expected to come to the full Senate for a vote as early as this month, would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Singer’s group recently hired as lobbyists two former GOP lawmakers, Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) and Norm Coleman (Minn.), who say they oppose same-sex marriage but support workplace protections for gays.

A softer GOP approach, they argue, would boost the party’s chances with young voters, women and centrist independents, all of whom tend to be supportive of gay rights and have drifted away from the party.

One poll-tested sound bite being suggested to candidates references the Golden Rule — to “treat others as we’d like to be treated, including gay, lesbian and transgender Americans.” The line, according to a memo from a GOP polling firm hired to guide the campaign, wins support from 89 percent of Republican voters.

“The Republican image, unfortunately, is one in which we have an empathy gap,” Coleman said. “That impacts us across the board. An issue like this, which is about being against discrimination, feeds into the long-term future of the party.
“But we’re telling Republicans, ‘If you think you can’t get there on marriage, here is a safe list of things you can support,’ ” said Jeff Cook-McCormac, senior adviser to Singer’s advocacy group.

Organizers say they are confident that the Senate will pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The Republican-led House, they say, is a taller order, though they note that Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the party’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, has voiced support for workplace protections in the past.

Social-conservative leaders say the effort by gay rights backers won’t work.   “Regardless of how much money [Singer and his allies] bring to the table, it is not to the advantage of Republican officeholders politically to support his agenda,” said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, one of the major evangelical groups opposing the ENDA. “Particularly in Republican primaries, the Republican Party is still strongly socially conservative. These are core convictions that people have.”

I applaud Singer's efforts, but candidly think he'd get farther by backing gay friendly Democrats and targeting anti-gay Republicans for defeat.  Today's white Evangelical Christians are defined by hate, bigotry and selfishness.  They make a mockery of the Gospel message.  I also wish the Washington Post would start recognizing that FRC is a hate group and identifying it as such in news articles.

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