There seems to be no limit to right-wingers' inventiveness when they start elaborating on the awfulness of "gay evil." With righters inveighing against both socialism and gay marriage, it was inevitable that some lightbulb was going to link those two "evils." The other day, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) did just that.
In an interview with WingNutDaily, King insisted that socialism and gay marriage go together like the horse and carriage in the pop song. He said, "If there's a push for a socialist society, ...one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal."
When Republican right-wingers lie about history, they know they can get away with it because most Americans are so uneducated about history.
So let's look at history. Is socialism automatically gay-marriage-friendly? Or even gay-friendly without marriage? Does socialist government come to a country as a result of "traditional marriage" being "plowed through" by gay marriage? I don't think so.
It's true that there have been individual socialist figures who were gay, or lesbian, and who even factored orientation into their platforms for sexual liberationism. Even today, in the U.S., we can find thinkers and activists who are both socialist and LGBT. But that was/is true of socialism only in the initial phase of salons, political meetings, marches and electioneering.
The actual socialist governments that dotted the world's timeline since the time of Karl Marx have often been resistant to the idea of LGBT liberation. Indeed, the socialist governments that became world powers have been fiercely homophobic.
To put it another way -- when socialism finally seizes the reins of ruling power, it may nationalize industry and land, and install national healthcare, and do other things that terrify the bejeesus out of today's American right-wingers -- but it also keeps heterosexual marriage firmly in its #1 place -- though the totalitarian brands of socialism may do away with religion and establish a secular form of marriage, with divorce freely permitted.
Real-Life Totalitarian Anti-Gayism
Let's start with that mother of them all -- the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, aka the USSR, which lasted from 1921 till its demise in 1991.
Homosexuality was illegal in the USSR. Throughout the republics, any homosexuals who came to government attention were sent to mental hospitals or labor camps, even executed. Though the Soviets liked to brag that they had done away with that "opium of the people," religion, their fierce homophobia was actually a lingering influence from the outlawed Orthodox or Catholic Churches in those regions, which had taught centuries of homophobia. So forget permissiveness on gay marriage in the USSR.
Much the same can be said for that great socialist empire of the Far East -- the People's Republic of China, which came into being in 1949.
Beijing isn't quite as fiercely homophobic as Soviet Russia, because China was historically way less influenced by Christianity. Yet Chinese socialism definitely didn't establish its power by "plowing through marriage" with an acceptance of gay marriage. Indeed, the Chinese government persecuted Chinese tongzhi (homosexuals) for decades. Today China is becoming less socialist by the minute, and she actually decriminalized sodomy in 1997. But the country is far from legalizing same-sex marriage -- as yet China doesn't even have any laws prohibiting discrimination against gays.
Post-War Socialist Democracy
A bit closer to home, we can take an honest look at the socialist democracies that popped up across the West after World War II.
This international movement came as a natural reaction against extremes of capitalism, which had become associated with Naziism in many people's minds. In 1945 the British Labor Party came to power and proceeded to do socialist things like nationalize mining, utilities and the Bank of England. They even instituted the National Health Service that gives American rightists such a shudder. But the Brits certainly didn't establish gay marriage as a key element of their socialist platform -- in fact, Britain remained sexually stuffy, to the point where it only recently decriminalized homosexuality. Same-sex marriage is still banned in the UK, though "civil partnerships" are allowed.
Ditto France, which went strongly socialist-democrat since World War II. The French government even decriminalized homosexuality, but has never allowed same-sex marriage.
Even Italy, where socialism has been such a powerful force during its modern history, has never legalized same-sex marriage or civil unions -- mostly because the Vatican is always looking over its shoulder.
West of the pond, there is the standout example of fierce homophobia in Castro's Cuba, where gay men and lesbians were imprisoned, even executed.
Socialism has recently re-emerged in some South American countries. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez did socialist things like nationalize the oil industry. This country also has (shudder) a national universal healthcare program. But I don't see Venezuela stepping out there for gay marriage. In fact, Chavism boils with homophobia rhetoric, and gay people have often been cruelly persecuted, to the point where they flee and seek asylum in the U.S.
On the other side of the globe, Australia and New Zealand were governed by Labour parties between 1994 and 2006, but they never made same-sex marriage part of their essential down-under political platform. New Zealand does allow civil unions. But Australia has gone to the other extreme and adopted the U.S. "one man and one woman" dictum.
Exceptions That Prove the Rule
Indeed, only a few European countries where socialism enjoyed any postwar power have ever legalized same-sex marriage. These include Sweden, Netherlands and post-Franco Spain. (Denmark allows only civil partnerships.) But they are the exception that proves the rule.
As for our northern neighbor, Canada, I have to admit that she has distinguished herself for having a strong democratic socialist political character since World War II, as well as national healthcare and legalized gay marriage. But gay marriage was not one of the fatal stepping stones that led toward establishing socialism in Canada, which is what Rep. King says gay marriage is doing in the U.S. Instead the socialism and the healthcare system came first, and gay marriage came much later.
Meanwhile, our southern neighbor, Mexico, has felt powerful currents of socialist and communist parties and movements ever since her 1910-20 Revolution. Homosexuality has been legal in Mexico since 1871. In recent years, an LGBT movement has emerged there, and same-sex civil unions have been legalized in Mexico City and several states. Yet homophobia runs deep in some elements of Mexican society, and most Mexicans, when polled, says that they're opposed to actual marriage for gays.
Here again -- socialism came first to Mexico, and not as a result of allowing same-sex marriage, as Rep. King alleges. He's got the carriage before the horse here.
Last but not least, the rightists love to demonize President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the bringer of socialism to America, with his infamous welfare programs and other reforms of the 1930s. But FDR certainly didn't go that route by way of "plowing" traditional marriage and allowing same-sex marriage. In fact the President himself -- in spite of his closet womanizing -- upheld the very picture of "traditional marriage" with his wife Eleanor (who is viewed by some historians as a closet lesbian or bisexual.)
I could go on and on, but think I've made my point. The more you compare Representative King's assertion to the actual historical record, the more dingbat that assertion looks.
But that's how dingbat and desperate the Republicans are. They lost the election, and now they're losing their cool -- grabbing for any and all bits of ideological dough and flinging them wildly against the wall of public opinion. They hope that something will stick, no matter how untrue or outrageously improbable it might be.