Friday, November 19, 2010

Framing the fight

This video features Jimmy LaSalvia of the “gay” conservative group GOProud versus Wendy Wright from the anti-gay Concerned Women for America on the subject of whether the teapartiers are fiscal conservatives or social conservatives. GOProud recently sent a letter to the Republican leadership of the new Congress, begging for them to focus on fiscal, smaller government issues and not on going after homos. Wendy’s not having it.

The thing is, she’s absolutely right: The teapartiers are merely a repackaging and rebranding of the far right christianists who completed their takeover of the Republican Party under Bush/Cheney. Their often extremist agenda on social issues doesn’t play well outside their churches, though, so this year they wrapped it in a veneer of “small government, fiscal conservatism”. That helped them—as did simply being in the right place at the right time (only the craziest of the crazy Teapublicans failed to win election this year).

The Teapublicans who were elected to Congress are all anti-gay and anti-choice. Those issues are at the core of who and what they are, and GOProud doesn’t seem to understand that. They’re not alone, though, with far too many moderates also duped into believing the teaparty rhetoric of “small government” and “fiscal conservatism”.

What I found fascinating in this interview came at the very end when Wendy was given the final word. She said:
“Fiscal and social issues DO go together. When you look at the efforts like expanding domestic partnership benefits, that’s bigger government, that’s more cost to businesses, it’s more increases to taxpayers. So they DO go together and that’s why you can’t try and separate them. Social issues are moral issues, fiscal issues are moral issues.”
She’s revealing exactly how the Teapublicans will frame their opposition to equality for GLBT citizens: As a fiscal issue. The christianist right has for many years portrayed gay Americans as wealthy people who don’t really need equality because they can afford to pay double. So, they’ll argue that these “well off” people don’t need to “burden” taxpayers or businesses with equality in benefits.

Everyone expects the religious right to oppose marriage equality, but this strategy gets them off the hook for also opposing separate and unequal civil unions or even the vastly inferior “domestic partnership benefits”: They don’t have to say that the real reason they oppose them is because their Jeebus tells them to; instead, they can say with great faux sincerity that their opposition is all about “smaller government”, “reducing burdens on business” and “saving taxpayers money”. It’s a crock and a lie, but it will probably work if there’s no pushback—and this is one form of pushback.

I’m a staunch critic of the newsmedia always putting some right wing bigot on opposite a gay person to provide “balance” on an issue; as I often say, they’d never even consider having a member of the KKK on to provide “balance” in a discussion of African American civil rights. However, this is one example of when it’s appropriate, since the subject was the gays versus the anti-gays fighting for the “heart of the GOP” (does it even have one?), as the chyron puts it. This was actually a useful interaction—but to prepare our side, too.

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