[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This guest post is by anonymous blogger, Tyrion. Tyrion was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He writes professionally about twentieth century American history, and blogs pseudonymously at Tyrion's Point about queer politics, cooking, music, running, and his magnificent boyfriend.
Chris Douglas has been kind enough to offer a measured rebuttal to my arguments against Jon Elrod's candidacy. Chris makes some decent points, but, at their core, I think his arguments are far more charitable to Elrod than is warranted, given Elrod's silence on crucial LGBT issues and his continued employment of anti-gay media firm Main-1-Media. Chris makes two specific responses that I'm interested in dissecting.
First, Chris characterizes Jon Elrod's silence on the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBOA) and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) as "thoughtful demurral pending more information, rather than an attempt to avoid the questions at hand, let alone opposition to GLBT interests."
This is a strange characterization, given that neither the DPBOA nor the UAFA are particularly complicated issues. Neither would substantially increase government spending nor create federalist concerns. Both acts are rooted in a basic recognition, to quote Andre Carson's response, of "value and respect for all families." Carson adds, "All Americans should have access to the same rights and responsibilities, including equal health insurance, employment benefits, and property and adoption rights, to strengthen their own families."
Silence on the DPBOA and UAFA amounts to a tacit endorsement of the status quo. The status quo requires the federal government to deny basic health and employment benefits to same-sex partners. It encourages the INS to engage in systematic discrimination against LGBT families during the naturalization process. All justifications for the status quo eventually boil down to anti-gay prejudice, the denigration of same-sex relationships, and the fundamental proposition that our families are not as important as heterosexual families. Andre Carson's response, unlike Jon Elrod's "thoughtful demurral" to the homophobic status quo, is bold affirmation of the equality and dignity of LGBT families.
The basic nature of this issue is not complicated. It isn't deep or concealed in arcane legalistic language. Jon Elrod is an intelligent man with a law degree. If he didn't know what the DPBOA and UAFA were off-hand it should have taken him about thirty minutes with any internet connection to adequately educate himself. After that the question is simple: Does Jon Elrod think gay families should be treated like straight families by the Federal government? In this case, his silence answers no.
Second, Chris tells us, "In order truly to see progress we need to see support grow in the Republican Party." As a relatively LGBT supportive Republican, Chris suggests, Jon Elrod is a primed pump for just that sort of support.
This is a baffling argument. Chris is not suggesting that Jon Elrod is better on LGBT issues -- in fact, as I have just pointed out, Jon Elrod is manifestly and obviously inferior on LGBT issues. Chris is arguing that LGBT people should support Jon Elrod in spite of that fact because he is a voice of relative sanity in a party managed by lunatic extremists. Yet, one suspects that this argument overlooks an obvious point: Doesn't is suggest a serious flaw in Jon Elrod's judgment and commitment to LGBT issues that he would choose, in the first place, to join a party managed by lunatic extremists?
This relates back to Chris' final dubious plea. Chris argues that the Wall Street Journal and other political analysts give the Republicans slim odds indeed of recapturing the House of Representatives. From this perspective, Jon Elrod's vote for John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives won't damage LGBT interests in the immediate future (though it will, of course, amount to a tacit endorsement of John Boehner's homophobia).
I can't disagree with the analysis that Republicans aren't likely to retake the House in November. But, I question why that analysis should suddenly be tactically mustered into an appeal to elect more Republicans. In other words, Chris is conceding implicitly the fact that Republican control of the House of Representatives would be a disaster for the interests of the LGBT community. If that's the case, LGBT voters shouldn't be succored into a false sense of security by which they down but one "thin wafer" of a Republican. Quite the contrary, the real implication should be clear: if Republican control of the House of Representatives is such an obviously bad thing for the LGBT community, let's do everything we can to make it harder for the Republicans to retake control of the House of Representatives. That means we don't have to worry about Jon Elrod helping to make John Boehner Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2009, 2011, or 2013, because Jon Elrod should never have the opportunity to cast a vote for a lunatic extremist Republican leadership in the first place.
At the end of the day, Chris' appeal rests on a very counterintuitive understanding of gay politics: namely, we should reward Jon Elrod for being a Republican and supporting the homophobic Republican leadership. I think parties and candidates should work hard to win the trust of LGBT voters. The Democratic Party has eschewed gay-baiting and homophobia in the last decade and worked hard to treat the LGBT community as a valued constituency. Andre Carson's response to the Indiana Equality questionnaire is testimony to this fact. LGBT voters couldn't ask for a better response from a candidate than Andre's. He's exactly right on the issues and, better yet, the justification for his positions is nuanced and thoughtful. Andre doesn't just hold the right positions, he holds the right values. That's something we should all be willing to vote for.
Meanwhile, Jon Elrod won't commit to supporting either the DPBOA or the UAFA -- basic civil rights legislation that establishes that the Federal government must treat all families with respect and dignity. In addition, Jon Elrod's campaign continues to employ an anti-gay activist firm, Main-1-Media, to design his website and advertisements. While Jon Elrod has publicly poked Eric Miller's eye on other occasions, he is now using a media firm that was founded by Rick Terry, one of Eric Miller's chief cronies, and has been used by Miller to register and organize anti-gay protests. Jon Elrod has shrugged off these concerns. He's also using his friends at Main-1-Media to print anti-choice fliers. Apparently, in Jon Elrod's world, voting with your constituents on SJR-7 buys you a lot of leeway. Enough apparently to employ vile homophobes and still, amazingly, contest the gay vote.