They Can't Get Married, But They Can Kick Your Ass

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Great profile by Joshua Green of Tim Gill, a publicity-shy gay millionaire who spearheaded the defeat of anti-gay politicians in 2006.

Together, Gill and [political consultant Ted] Trimpa decided to eschew national races in favor of state and local ones, which could be influenced in large batches and for much less money. Most antigay measures, they discovered, originate in state legislatures. Operating at that level gave them a chance to "punish the wicked," as Gill puts it—to snuff out rising politicians who were building their careers on antigay policies, before they could achieve national influence. Their chief cautionary example of such a villain is Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who once compared homosexuality to "man on dog" sex (and was finally defeated last year, at a cost of more than $20 million). Santorum got his start working in the state legislature. As Gill and Trimpa looked at their evolving plan, it seemed realistic. "The strategic piece of the puzzle we'd been missing—consistent across almost every legislature we examined—is that it's often just a handful of people, two or three, who introduce the most outrageous legislation and force the rest of their colleagues to vote on it," Gill explained. "If you could reach these few people or neutralize them by flipping the chamber to leaders who would block bad legislation, you'd have a dramatic effect."

Gill's idea was to identify vulnerable candidates like [Iowa House Speaker] Danny Carroll and move quickly to eliminate them without the burden of first having to win the consent of some risk-averse large organization or board of directors. Another element of this strategy is stealth. Revealing targets only after an election makes it impossible for them to fight back and sends a message to other politicians that attacking gays could put them in the crosshairs. Independence also allowed Gill to pursue an element of his philosophy that chafes many national gay organizations: the belief that enduring acceptance can be won only with Republican support. "If you want a majority, you have to change people's minds," he said, noting that in Colorado, Republicans outnumber Democrats. "Just because you're conservative doesn't mean you're antigay."

There is a powerful argument here against public financing of elections. Public financing is basically dead on the federal level, but it's had some successes in Arizona, Maine, and (temporarily) Vermont. If Iowa had strict financing laws, the effect would have been… the protection of some incumbents who were losing touch with their constituents. (Carroll represented a college town and was barely winning re-election over underfunded schlubs.) The freedom of gay activists to traffic their cash all over the country makes politicians more responsive to their critics. And it's not a one-way street. If Ted Haggard, say, wanted to donate the money he's saved by cold turkey-ing meth and manlove, he could get some of these politicians' backs.

NEXT: Hey, How's the Hunt for OBL Going?

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  1. “Independence also allowed Gill to pursue an element of his philosophy that chafes many national gay organizations: the belief that enduring acceptance can be won only with Republican support”

    Either Green is intentionally trying to make some gay groups look like idiots or said gay groups are fucking retards. How could you honestly believe that real acceptance of gays will come without most Republicans becoming pro-gay? Republicans make up probably 40% of our population. If that 40% is anti-gay how will they have acceptance?

  2. I don’t agree with Weigel’s characterization of public financing and the gay issue. Instead of “buying” politicians and ensuring their purchased incumbants remained in power, gay groups could pursue a long-term strategy of educating the electorate and battling religious-based intolerance.

  3. “Just because you’re conservative doesn’t mean you’re antigay.”

    But it sure does help.

  4. … eschew national races in favor of state and local ones…

    Did that get him around BICRA?

  5. And why the fuck is an ad for “Why Mommy is a Democrat” on the right side of my screen right now? Are you people that hard up for money that you’ll advertise such a partisan piece of poo? I’m not kidding, this is pretty damn low, Reason. I’m betting you can do something about this.

  6. This is really just doing what the Christian fundies have been doing for years. You can cause a lot of mayhem simply by controlling school boards and a few state legislature seats. And since so few people actually pay attention to local politics, it all goes under the radar.

  7. “…gay groups could pursue a long-term strategy of educating the electorate and battling religious-based intolerance.

    I’d like to think that that could work but, judging by the power of Intelligent Design Lobby, it’s going to be quite challenging – if even possible at all – to convince a group that thinks that all these questions have been answered by the highest possible authority.

  8. Andy

    Relax.

    Republicans do not have to be “pro-gay”, they just have to be willing to tolerate gays, which most of them already are.

    As for the ad, it’s probably just Weigel shilling again. ;P

  9. It is not possible to win a battle against the religious based intolerance to gays. If you talk to enough members of the religious right, you soon discover that even if Jesus himself came down and gave his approval for gay marriage many Christians would simply accuse him of being a flip flopping liberal in league with a group of activist angels trying to spread their homosexual agenda. The Rapture Right has their beliefs and unless a pro gay marriage burning bush makes an appearance on Rush or Hannity nothing is going to change their minds.

  10. Santorum is wrong…homosexuality is nothing like “man on dog” sex. The bible is very definate about the sinfulness of homosexuality but says that we humans have dominion over the beasts of the field. Therefore bestiality is ordained of god……that will be ten percent please…

  11. “if Jesus himself came down and gave his approval for gay marriage many Christians would simply accuse him of being a flip flopping liberal in league with a group of activist angels trying to spread their homosexual agenda.”

    You mean…HE ISN’T?

  12. Aresen,

    That’s what I meant by “pro-gay”: Willing to tolerate gays (as in, not supporting constitutional amendments to enshrine the state-sanctioned definition of marriage into law). And I know most (R)s do support such an amendment, so I’ll have to disagree with you.

    You’re right about Weigel shilling, though. 🙂

  13. Oh, look, he countered his apparent bias with 3 right-leaning ads! Brilliant! lol

  14. Aren’t the ads just auto-generated based on the content? Most blogs don’t hand select ads for each individual post.

  15. Santorum didn’t compare homosexuality to man-dog sex. He was using a slippery slope argument, saying that if once you treat marriage as something to be redefined in accordance with current fashions, there’s no impediment to extending it to include even more bizarre sexual arrangements.

    If he believed homosexuality and bestiality were comparable, there would be no need for a slippery slope argument, right?

  16. “If he believed homosexuality and bestiality were comparable, there would be no need for a slippery slope argument, right?”

    I would, however, recommend plastic sheets on the bed. ;P

  17. FWIW, Tim Gill started his fortune by being one of the creators of the Quark Express.

  18. JJ3

    They could. Imagine an abortion-rights blog selling ad space and then an ad pops up for “Stop Baby Killing Now!” Or vice-versa.
    Do you think said blogs would tolerate that? They could cancel the deal with google but google’s smarter than that… I’m sure they let blogs edit their ads if they wish.

  19. Yes, that’s a cheap shot against national gay groups. Human Rights Campaign, for example, does a little dance every time they find a Republican to support.

    “It is not possible to win a battle against the religious based intolerance to gays.”

    Yes, but most homophobia isn’t religious-based. It’s Middle School playground fag hating, which isn’t based on any thought process so much as not thinking at all. That’s one reason why opinions towards gay people have changed so rapidly over the past 20 or so years – because most of the intolerance isn’t really based on any deeply-held beliefs at all.

    The principled gay haters, like Santorum, aren’t nearly as numerous as they pretend.

  20. The “slippery slope” isn’t an argument. It’s a fallacy. A way of saying “… then x lead to y leads to z” without ever having to make a logical connection.

  21. In logical argumentation, the slippery slope is indeed a fallacy.

    In human affairs, it sadly is not.

  22. crimethink,

    …saying that if once you treat marriage as something to be redefined in accordance with current fashions…

    Which has of course always been the case.

  23. In human affairs, it sadly is not.

    If you doubt this, simply look at the success of the health nazis, who have gone from asking us not to smoke when we are in the same room with them to outlawing smoking in your home.

  24. Grotius,

    All the forms of marriage that have ever existed in human history — polygamous or monogamous, arranged or chosen, temporary or permanent, sacred or secular — have been heterosexual in nature. Do not confuse changing the fundamental nature of marriage with changing its superficial aspects.

  25. To elaborate on the slippery slope argument deal, the problem in political affairs is that people don’t generally put up a fight against small evils. It’s just not worth it. Once they become used to that evil, a small increase in its magnitude will not be resisted for the same reason.

    This process, repeated many times, is responsible for the steady erosion of non-sex-related civil liberties, to the point where all the ammendments in the BoR have been interpreted out of existence. It’s also responsible for the income tax — originally a temporary measure to force the wealthy to fund WW1 — becoming the main source of funding for the govt, to the point where it sucks up about a third of our national income.

  26. Crimethink,

    So why is heterosexuality “the” fundamental aspect of marraige?

    In other words, you are assuming something not proven.

    BTW, in Roman society, the fundamental aspect of marraige was patria potestas.

  27. crimethink,

    Something which I am sure you’ve never, ever heard of.

  28. crimethink,

    This process, repeated many times, is responsible for the steady erosion of non-sex-related civil liberties, to the point where all the ammendments in the BoR have been interpreted out of existence.

    In the U.S. today we’ve got greater liberty speak, put into print, etc. than at any time in this nation’s history. This is simply a fact based on any measure of free speech, freedom of the press, etc.

  29. crimethink,

    Also, the income tax was not originally a measure to force the wealthy to pay for taxes in WWI. Unless you think that the 16th Amendment came into being in 1913 to pay for a war that had not yet even started!

  30. crimethink,

    And which the U.S. was yet to be involved in!

    For those of you at home, WWI started in August of 1914. The U.S. entered the war in April of 1917.

  31. “FWIW, Tim Gill started his fortune by being one of the creators of the Quark Express.”

    that fucking bastard.

    (we just finished migrating over to indesign, ha ha!)

    “educating the electorate”

    i feel you, but at the same time i don’t. i’ve never particularly cared for the position that people who don’t like a group of people are necessarily uneducated, or zog help us, “ignorant.” they’re just, by and large, fuckfaces; that they translate this dislike – for whatever reason – into implicit or explicit support for coercive legislation is, sadly, a human reaction.

  32. someone ought to mention to the christian-supremacists the blind hate they have toward homosexuals is a sin. Jesus only gave Two rules. 1) love thy God with all your heart soul mind and strength. 2)LOVE your neighbor as yourself.I like to believe God will look upon a man hater more harshly than a man lover…peace out

  33. Most Christians (and the offical Catholic church teaching) is that you should love the sinner, hate the sin. So you can care about homosexuals as people, enjoy their company, etc, and still have a problem with and/or discourage their homosexual identity. If my father ever murdered someone, I’d still love him. That doesn’t mean I’d approve of his behavior.

  34. Brotherben,

    By my previous comment I mean to say that I believe that you mischaracterize opposition to mainstream acceptance of gay marriage, etc. by using the term “blind hate.”

  35. ModernEsther,

    Doctrine as a rule matters little to most religious adherants. Religion is a social grouping more than it is an intellectual enterprise for most religious people. Ergo, their actual behavior is what is most important. It is the actual behavior of some elements of Christianity that brotherben seems to be speaking to.

  36. gunnels, gunnels

    no mask of dimitrius or grotius or whatnot can ever hide your jean-bartness when your serial postings give it all away.

  37. What the heck,

    I am not (rather obviously) hiding.

    Honestly, if tomorrow I changed my nick to “Seneca the Younger” would anyone think I was hiding? I doubt it. I change my nicks because I like to change my nicks, not because I’m trying to put up some mask.

  38. Curious how I got no replies from crimethink.

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