GOP Candidates’ Anti-Gay Stances: Winning Strategy, Or Out of Touch?
It feels like 1992 all over again. That year, an unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate, the right-wing fire breather Pat Buchanan, gave a speech at the party convention in which he coined the phrase "culture war" to describe such progressive issues as gay rights and abortion.
As this long-anticipated season of presidential primaries finally gets under way, most of the current crop of Republican candidates has been falling over each other to capture the votes of social conservatives and evangelical Christians by coming out strongly against abortion and gay rights.
Their votes are seen as solid gold to the Republicans’ strategists. In 2008, 60 percent of voters in the Iowa caucuses were evangelicals. A similar number voted in the South Carolina primary that year.
It’s a political truism that Republicans run to the right in primaries, just as Democrats run to the left, because that’s where the votes are. Most candidates in both parties move to the center in general elections to capture the crucial independent voters.
What looks like a winning strategy in many of the primaries may prove to be a handicap in the general election, according to both straight pundits and gay political activists. EDGE conducted e-mail interviews with representative members of both groups.
Five candidates -- Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum -- have signed a pledge put forward by the National Organization for Marriage to oppose repeal of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.
Homophobic One-Upping Each Other
The purported front-runner, Mitt Romney, did state recently that, overall, he supported gay rights. But he hastened to add that marriage should be only between one man and one woman. Interestingly, Romney is still catching flak from conservatives such as virulently anti-gay group Mass Resistance for being too much in favor of gay rights.
As for Santorum, he has stated that Romney is running to the left of President Barack Obama on same-sex marriage.