The Huffington Post has an article up about what gay conservatives think this Congress is going to accomplish when it comes to LGBT legislation. HRC provided a graphic on how the change in levels of homophobia in both houses:
It's interesting that, for its size, the "Mixed Record" category lost quite a few more than the "Pro-LGBT" category did.
Anyway, here's what HRC thinks can happen in terms of legislation:
She said the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act might provide opportunities to include measures addressing bullying and harassment. The Older Americans Act could allow advocates to push for provisions that benefit older LGBT Americans. A piece of free-standing legislation, the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, would equalize tax treatment for employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners and other non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries.
HRC will still work on larger pieces of legislation, like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Defense of Marriage Act, pushing to introduce the bills, educating lawmakers and holding hearings on the issues.
I think that's incredibly optimistic, but then again I'm not one for hope. Log Cabin added:
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, also acknowledges that major measures are unlikely to go anywhere but said there are opportunities to marry the fiscal concerns of the Republican Party with pro-equality legislation. Like Herwitt, he pointed to inequalities in the tax code.
Currently under federal law, employers who offer health benefits for the domestic partners of their employees face unequal treatment: both the employers and employees are taxed at a higher rate and essentially, employers are rewarded for discriminating.
"We have drafted a tax reform bill that would address a 'donut hole' -- people call it different things -- there is currently a problem with the way the federal tax code is written that is punitive to employers, and employees who may have a same-sex partner," said Cooper, noting it would be LCR's first piece of legislation this Congress. "We figure, with the current appetite in Congress for tax reform, and the current appetite for economic growth and limiting the federal budget and balancing the budget, this may be an opportunity for a successful piece of legislation that could be introduced and sponsored by Republicans, with bipartisan support from Democrats."
Perhaps they can get some Republicans to back that, but if they need more than a few it's not going to happen. They can frame it as a tax cut all they want, the Christian conservatives are going to notice that it's subsidizing sodomy and carpet-munching and they're going to raise a stink. Remember death panels? They don't even need a reason to oppose good policy.
LCR also thinks that Republicans won't try to take anything away:
"What Chairman Jordan shared with us is that all the priorities for this Congress are fiscal-related," said Cooper. "One could interpret it as there have been lessons learned either at a pragmatic or principled level by certain Republicans on social issues, that they're not good for the party; they are divisive. And frankly, in many respects, from a true definition of conservatism, social issues don't have a role in the government."
The three priorities identified by Jordan, according to Cooper, were: 1) a rescission package that would eliminate previously approved spending; 2) balancing the federal budget; and 3) federal welfare reform.
I agree that conservatism is first and foremost about creating, empowering, and maintaining an aristocracy, but they're not going to get through two years without throwing some kind of bone to the Religious Right. Unlike Democrats, Republicans are perfectly willing to admit they don't think they need LGBT people to win elections.
Anyway, my prediction now is that the best we can hope for is that nothing gets worse over the next two years. And I'm not just referring to LGBT issues.
That said, it doesn't mean people should stop working. If we've learned anything over the last two years, it's that we can't rely on Democrats to improve our lives for us. There will come a time when Republicans will consider it inappropriate to be publicly homophobic and we should be doing what we can to reach that time.
Unlike mainstream journalists who don't understand these issues and just can't wait to put all this messy "equality" and "autonomy" and "social issues" stuff behind us, I don't think we're there just yet and I don't think we'll ever be able to give up.
Speaking of death panels, the Obama Administration set the tone today for how it's going to deal with the Republican House:
The Obama administration, reversing course, will revise a Medicare regulation to delete references to end-of-life planning as part of the annual physical examinations covered under the new health care law, administration officials said Tuesday.
The move is an abrupt shift, coming just days after the new policy took effect on Jan. 1.
Many doctors and providers of hospice care had praised the regulation, which listed "advance care planning" as one of the services that could be offered in the "annual wellness visit" for Medicare beneficiaries.
While administration officials cited procedural reasons for changing the rule, it was clear that political concerns were also a factor. The renewed debate over advance care planning threatened to become a distraction to administration officials who were gearing up to defend the health law against attack by the new Republican majority in the House.
They'll find something to scream if John Boehner goes all "same-sex couples shouldn't be financially penalized for not wanting their partners to die of cancer in the street" on them.