Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer

Log Cabin Republicans R Us

Filed By Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer | October 13, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, Log Cabin Republicans, Prop 8, Ted Olson

A friend reminded me last night--I'd forgotten this--that, in the case in which a federal court ruled DADT unconstitutional yesterday, the plaintiff is Log Cabin Republicans.

dadt_postcard_front.jpgAnd we all know, because we talk about how politically brilliant it was, that Ted Olson's deeply-conservative constitutional argument in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is what led to the court's ruling against Prop 8 in California recently.

Can there be any lingering doubt that the mainstream of the LGBT rights movement is now essentially conservative?

Yesterday's ruling is historic. Not because it is a victory for gay rights (I'm not an expert on the judicial branch, but everything I'm reading today says the ruling will most likely be appealed and the case will drag on for a while longer, making this just another step - an important step, but just a step - on a long road) but because it is a victory for the Log Cabin Republicans. Gay conservatives, whom most politically-active queers have laughed at for years or at least considered hopelessly oxymoronic, are now the avant garde of what used to be the sexual liberation movement.

I can't help but imagine a day a few years from now when LGBT activists who still care about liberal progressive politics suddenly, finally, realize that their movement has been pulled out from under their feet by conservatives. And I imagine they'll be surprised and dismayed - despite the fact that it's happening right under their noses and with their enthusiastic support. Right now.

Libertarians and Republicans are running the show now, y'all. After the ruling yesterday, it is impossible not to acknowledge that this is their moment. Andrew Sullivan - a man whose name evoked as much scorn in gay circles in the 90s as Jesse Helms's did in the 80s - has effectively written the agenda of what they're now calling a "civil rights movement." (The big exception is hate-crimes legislation, which conservatives do not support, and it's interesting to see how little attention that issue gets compared to marriage and the military.)

I wonder if the fact that it is easier now in many ways to be openly homosexual in the U.S. has made liberation feel less urgent and that's why the priorities of so many activists have turned to entitlement. Or maybe this is just part of the more sweeping political realignment happening in recent years as those on the right who actually believe in a conservative ideology shake off the religious loonies who have dominated the Republican party for the last few decades. Maybe it just comes down to the U.S. being an essentially conservative country so sexual minorities are more likely to be tolerated if we promise not to misbehave.

Whatever the cause or causes, this is a fascinating moment in queer history. It wouldn't have occurred to me, even 10 years ago, that the sexual liberation movement could transform itself from radical to reactionary, let alone so quickly and stealthily.

Lately, I've been cultivating a longer view, looking at this moment in American queer politics with some historical, philosophical distance. I step back to avoid falling into despair. Here's what I really think: if you support this agenda, you have sold out our sexual liberation movement.

You're working for the Log Cabin Republicans now.


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Marja Erwin | October 13, 2010 7:35 PM

Or maybe it's decades of campaigns, from the Palmer Raids, to COINTELPRO, to the present day harassment of anti-war and anti-capitalist movements, that have systematically marginalized anyone who ISN'T conservative.

I think that America as a whole has been moving to the right recently. Look at the recent health care bill that passed - in 1992 that was the bill the Republicans presented against the already triangulated Clinton bill. In the 50's progressives believed in single-payer and even Harry Truman was for that. The tax structure has been relieving the wealthy of a great deal of their responsibility and the Democrats are thinking about folding even on raising the top tax bracket back up to Clinton era levels. And we're getting close to seeing the government gut social security, something the right has wanted since the 60's.

There are still plenty of radical and leftist and progressive queer people, and I was surprised to find that, since I started blogging, there are plenty of progressive and leftist queers working in Gay, Inc, just not in leadership positions. But the power has shifted as the gap between the rich and the poor has widened, and wealthier people are generally more conservative and now they have more power in the US than at any time since the Great Depression, and that power isn't just the power to effect change but also the power to set the agenda for movements.

Andrew Sullivan now calls himself a liberal, and he means that on not just LGBT issues. It's everyone, not just us.

I agree that the U.S. government has shifted to the right, but I think it has more to do with corporate influence over elections than with any rightward shift in the average American's values. I don't think Americans have become more conservative.

I don't know in what context you heard Sullivan call himself a liberal. I've been reading him every day for years, and as far as I know he still proudly claims to be ideologically conservative. He denounces the Fox News American conservative movement, but only because they are not actually conservative.

Good point. I was referring to this, and he didn't exactly say he was a liberal now:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/12/leaving-the-right.html

And this:

http://www.towleroad.com/2009/12/joy-behar-gives-andrew-sullivan-a-lefty-basket-for-leaving-the-right.html

And liberals are plenty comfortable citing him when it comes to non-lgbt issues, plus he pretty much campaigned for Obama. The larger point, that society as a whole shifted to the right, is still in this example, just not how I phrased it.

I take your point, Alex, and I agree with you. These are strange times. It's hard to say what any of these words mean anymore. The fact that Obama is considered liberal is the real head-scratcher when his positions on most issues are center-right if not downright conservative (it makes perfect sense to me that Sullivan supported him). It's almost as if anyone sane and reasonable is automatically liberal because the Republicans have become so outrageous.

America was somewhat farther on the right in the first place. In Europe, the Democrats would be center-left to center-right depending on the issue and certainly not left.

No, I like to think that the LCR's just woke up and decided if they didn't 'work' they weren't going to get any rights! We have all known that for decades... Now how do we wake up HRC?

It's now fashionable for "progressives" to be homophobic.

When mention of GLB (not T - they'd never got that far) issues were removed from the DNC platform several years ago, the writing was on the wall.

Some made mention of this - but were told not to worry.

Now we've had a Dem President, a Dem Super-majority in the Senate, a Dem majority in the house... and zero progress. A Hate Crimes law the DOJ is under instructions not to enforce. Appeals against all pro-GLBT judicial decisions, sometimes using language far worse than anything any GOP DOJ used.

Nothing will beat the frothing-at-the-mouth homophobic lunacy of the Far Right. But many so-called "moderate" Democrats aren't moderate at all, they're fanatically bible-thumping right-wing on GLBT issues - just "progressive" when it comes to distributing taxpayers money to "worthy causes". "God is in the mix" you see.

Rick Sutton | October 13, 2010 8:45 PM

OK, maybe it's just me, and I had a lousy long damned day, but...I read this post twice, and I don't get it.

You're kidding, right?

I thought I supported the agenda. But maybe I don't.

I'm so damned confused.

I don't think I was ever part of a sexual liberation movement. I don't really know what that is. I've always been a leftist--a socialist really. However, I'm not an academic. I went to a trade school. And I find the liberal queer movement to be out of touch and inaccessible as the primary mission seems to be about intellectualizing things to death. Weirdly, it's got that in common with the libertarian movement where they've got a bunch of idealistic ideas that are totally impractical in the real world.

The movement is controlled by conservatives because LCR had one victory? Please. This is silly. What about the guys who challenged Prop 8 and won? Did they control the movement until the LCR win?
These are just isolated victories. We're all working together to move things forward, and no one has so much power that they can be considered our leaders.
Both wins were pure luck. Our strategy is hopeless because the majority of queers are filled with internalized homophobia. They actually plan failures so they can act self righteous while feeling sorry for themselves.
For thirty years, mainstream queer culture has ignored educated people. And they spit venom at anyone who steps out of the accepted group think.
Bottom line: it would take a lot more than one victory to give a faction the lead in our movement.

@goodjob, excellent point about the 'one political victory does not equal controlling the movement' point.

Also, I don't really give a shit about DADT. I want to see less people willing to kill other human beings, not more. Gay Inc has made its prime issues right wing minority issues of war and marriage, rather than common issues like employment and housing. What, your pro-military marriage obsessed groups drew in the right wing loony gays? Who is shocked by that. The reason gay inc is loosing support amoung queers is because they care more about supporting militarism than supporting equal employment.

I'm a liberal and I do care about DADT. Just sayin' these issues aren't separate. Most of the kids that enlist are lower middle class and are looking for a way to pay for school. ENDA won't help them do that.

Whatever the problem is with the military, it's the top brass. And conservatives have control over the military because liberals let them. It's not about being "pro-military" but being "pro civilian controlled military." It's not as if we could ever get rid of the military. So if liberals are not involved in defense policy, it's no wonder it was taken over by conservatives.

"Most of the kids that enlist are lower middle class and are looking for a way to pay for school. ENDA won't help them do that. " Neither will the military. Recruiters outright lie to these kids. I know, I went to a low income school where military recruiters set up tables in the hall at lunch. Less of the military kids end up in college than the kids that get pregnant and drop out. Instead, we get back people who are emotional scared and trained to be even more violent and patriarichal. It is the upper middle class and wealthy kids who the military sends to college and then makes officers instead of bullet sponges. For the rest of us, going to the military makes you much more likely to end up homeless, not in school and sucessful.

Also, I am NOT a liberal, I am a leftist.

I'm a liberal leftist, a lefty liberal. Whatever. But I'm reasonable. You didn't touch my other points. You give up control of the military to right-wing conservatives when you're flat-out anti-military.

Telling people to stop joining the military is not going to stop wars. It's just going to fill up the military with right-wing conservatives so all the top brass are right-wing conservatives that are under the impression that they're above the government. That's what we have right? A conservative right-wing military that is a-okay with going to war without getting permission from Congress.

Also, not sure if you're aware that government jobs give preference to veterans...everything from road crews to postal workers.

Brad Bailey | October 14, 2010 4:32 AM

"Our" sexual liberation movement? To whom are you referring? We already have tv ads extolling the virtues of digital vibrators and penis pumps for seventy-year-olds. A brief perusal of Craigslist can hook someone up in a matter of minutes. Communes, sex clubs, bathhouses-- been there, done that. How much more sexually liberated do you want us to be?

If you're asking me to choose between partisanship and the advance of gay civil rights, I'd think the answer would be obvious.

Hmm... Well, I checked the calendar. It's not April 1.

"Can there be any lingering doubt that the mainstream of the LGBT rights movement is now essentially conservative?"

Uh, yeah, there is.

When LCR invites a gay-baiting, hate-filled columnist as a keynote speaker at their event, then, yes, there is doubt.

When LCR endorses a nutjob like Christine O'Donnell (who compares dropping DADT to allowing adultery in the military), then, yes, there is doubt.

And, as noted by others here, to jump from one court victory to the notion that the entire LGBT rights movement is now essentially conservative is a groundless assumption.

And how did the fight for equal rights become a liberation movement?

Actually, I think we should have gone for domestic partnership then dodt for strategic reasons. Video of suburban couples could have given us the momentum to push through dodt. Then video of gay soldiers would've been be great pr to push through enda, which is my top priority.
When the public started to support partnership, we should have been dancing in the streets. Instead, we immediately demanded full marraige, again snatching defeat from victory. And we wasted zillions on that stupid party in dc. HIV is still in the community even though we've had the test for years and have known the transmission method. We could easily have arrainged our lives to stop the virus. Instead, they screamed and swore at anyone who wanted talk about stopping the virus.
But again, self hatred can't be cured through talk. It'll take time for them to resolve their issues, probably decades. It's been thirty years already, and in mainstream gay culture not much has changed.

So great how many Republicans Senators will the LCR's get to vote against DADT??!!