There are times when you have to look at the Republican National Committee and think "Bless their little hearts."
That's exactly what came to mind as I watched RNC members elect African-American former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele as its new chairman. I mean who would have thought that after six rounds of voting the Republicans who have made playing the anti-POC race card an art form would choose a "moderate" Black man over Katon Dawson, chair of the South Carolina GOP and, until recently a member of an all white country club?
They've clearly seen the need in the Obama era to slap a new coat of paint on the tattered Republican brand. But let's be clear that's all it is: a new coat of paint on the same old anti-LGBT rhetoric.
Says Jon Hoadley, Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats:
Although there were candidates that were not selected for RNC Chair with stronger anti-equality credentials than Michael Steele, which shows hope for the party, we should carefully consider his record as the Republican Party moves forward. The Republican Party has a troubling history of anti-equality activism. Unfortunately, Michael Steele has been a part of that record. Each time that he has promised voters a new tone in politics he has also taken steps to solidify the anti-LGBT positions of his own party. Voters should be very wary of his new role as Republican National Committee Chair. While the priority of Stonewall Democrats is on improving the Democratic Party and electing more pro-equality Democrats, we will keep a watchful eye on the GOP during this time.
Here is a Cliff Notes version of Michael Steele on LGBT rights:
Steele Said He Couldn't Define Gay Rights. The Baltimore Sun reported in July 2002 that, "Steele balked when asked about gay rights, saying he has trouble with the concept if not precisely defined. 'There's a lot of rights that already protect white gay men,' he said." [Baltimore Sun, 7/2/02]
Steele Said People Don't Care About Gay Rights Until They're Gay. The Maryland Gazette reported in August 2001 that, "Michael Steele, chairman of Maryland's Republican Party, gave a much more blunt assessment, saying that the issue would be decided on election day. 'Unless you're gay, you could care less about gay rights," he said. 'Unless you're a homosexual or a lesbian, it's not going to rise up on your radar screen. I'm focused on other things. You can talk about gay rights all you want, but it doesn't mean crap if you don't have a job.'" [Maryland Gazette, 8/8/01]
Steele Spoke at Rally for Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage. The Baltimore Sun reported in January 2005 that, "About 1,000 people huddled in front of the State House yesterday to call for a constitutional ban on gay marriage in Maryland, cheering a succession of preachers and politicians - including Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele." [Baltimore Sun, 1/28/05]
Steele: Gay Marriage Is A State Issue, But Supports A Federal Amendment. In August 2004, the Washington Times reported that, "[Steele] said each state should decide the issue, but added that he supports President Bush's efforts in calling for a constitutional amendment to define marriage, because some states are unwilling to act." [Washington Times, 8/26/04]