Election 2012

A Conservative Who Supports Gay Marriage Is Still a Conservative? Imagine That!

The strongest conservative voice in favor of gay marriage has the ears of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.


If he convinced Paul Ryan to make out with Marco Rubio, would the left still object?

As GOP Rep. Paul Ryan prepares for his debate against incumbent Vice President Joe Biden (sneak preview: the answer to every question is "Osama is dead, and GM is alive!"), he is receiving some coaching from conservative/libertarian lawyer Ted Olson. Olson is "playing" Biden in the preparations.

BuzzFeed reported the news over the weekend and it spread around a bit on the gay blogosphere, prompting even more reporting from gay newspaper Washington Blade. The burst of gay interest is because Olson is notably one of the attorneys who argued the case to have California's Proposition 8 – the ballot initiative blocking recognition of gay marriages – struck down.

So there's a bit of a surprise for a few folks that Olson's position in support of gay marriage was not an indicator that he was moving to the left. It was clear, though, from the start that his intent was the opposite – to try to move gay marriage recognition to the right as a conservative argument in favor of rewarding stable families.

The outrage for Olson's assistance to Ryan, little that there is, seems a bit on the "faux" side. The Blade contacted Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, for a response:

"After he has spent as much time, money, and reputation on overturning Prop 8 as he has, it's shocking to learn that Ted Olson would lift a finger to help the Romney-Ryan ticket during debate prep," Davis said. "The Romney-Ryan ticket stands completely counter to the goals of [The American Foundation for Equal Rights] and Ted Olson's stated belief that Prop 8 should be overturned. I have always been concerned that the architect of Bush v. Gore was one of the lead attorney's in the fight to overturn Prop 8, but I honestly never expected Olson to so blatantly contradict his own argument by supporting a ticket that would stand squarely in opposition to what he calls one of the most important cases of his career."

So here's a thought exercise: Imagine that somebody from the antigay National Organization for Marriage was serving as Ryan's debate buddy. Do you think there would be any less outrage from Davis in response? Of course not. It is the job for partisan functionaries to be outraged by every act on the other team. Davis would likely object to any debate partner except a random Kardashian or perhaps a friendly sea lion. Davis probably objects to Ryan even showing up for the debate in the first place.

That such a prominent conservative supporter of gay marriage has the direct ear of Ryan and Mitt Romney is a win for the gay community, which even Rick Jacobs of the progressive Courage Campaign begrudgingly noted:

"I hope he spends some of the hours he will spend with Congressman Ryan educating him that this is the civil rights issue of our time and that he and his running mate stand squarely on the wrong side of history."

Olson engaging these two is exactly what the gay movement needs, unless, of course, you're terribly worried about who in your party is only in it for the civil liberties and aren't really progressives at all. What would happen to the Democratic Party if and when the Republicans finally embraced gay marriage as policy?

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  1. OT: Anyone going to watch the pilot episode of Revolution tonight? I heard an ad for it on the radio today, but don’t know much about it. Could be interesting, though…

    1. I’ll probably check it out, but it kind of looks like the Terra Nova of the year to me. It lacks buzz.If an action drama doesn’t get buzz, that’s usually a sign that there’s something wrong with it.

      I do want to see if I can get my hands on the pilot of “Last Resort” and review it for Reason.com.

      1. I’m going to check it out; can’t hurt to give it a try. I doubt it can be as bad as Terra Nova.

        I am somewhat pumped for Last Resort; it is Shawn Ryan after all.

    2. You mean Doomsday Preppers: The Wet Dream?

      No thanks.

      1. Hmmmm… You’re probably right on that point, in that it might cause me to buy another gun if I end up watching the pilot.
        But with JJ Abrams and Jon Favreau, I think it could be entertaining even if the plot line sucks…

    3. My cable company had some thing where you could watch the pilot on demand a couple weeks before the official premiere, so I figured what the hell, might as well see what Giancarlo Esposito is doing now.

      I found the pilot JUST good enough that I’ll probably watch the second episode. But I’m predicting one of two things will happen. Either I’ll burn out by episode 4 (like I did with “Touch”) or I’ll really like the show but it’ll get canceled.

  2. In my experience, anyone that can’t be pigeon-holed into the left’s view of itself or of conservatism is a mythic figure. In other words, the self-proclaimed tolerant, educated side of the spectrum can’t comprehend anything beyond their binary view of the world.

  3. and make sure to advse LGBT friends that it was log cabin reublicans who overtuned DADT

    while *MR* “executive privilege” himself stood by]

  4. lol, these corrupt pompous windbags crack me up man!


  5. What would happen to the Democratic Party if and when the Republicans finally embraced gay marriage as policy?

    Nothing. The Democratic party would stay the same, and the Republican party would find itself without a conservative religious core. Maybe finally the libertarians would split from the fundies, each having been burned one too many times, meaning the still-firm Democratic coalition dominates for the foreseeable future.

    When you feather your bed with the three Gs you don’t sleep better by proudly admitting defeat on two of the Gs.

    1. That, or the religious right moves to the Dems, and other groups that bring less to the table get pushed out.

      The stability of the Democratic coalition relies on having a Republican party to define itself against, and that’s increasingly true in this era of hyper-polarization. If Team Red collapses, there are going to be a lot of unaligned votes in play, and Team Blue might snap up some free agents and let some overrated has-beens go.

      1. A scenario that forces more diverse coalitions would be a good thing imo. Agreed that Dems rely largely on opposition to a hardened right. I’m no fan of Clinton as an actor in policy of recent decades but he’s right that politics as a blood-sport is unproductive.

    2. The GOP might also start attracting more younger people and libertarian-leaning people to its fold. It may be possible to retain some of that religious core if everyone stressed that this gay-marriage support would be supplemented with legal protection for churches.

      The younger generations are warming up to gay marriage, like it or not. The GOP gatekeepers can’t keep their collective heads in the sand forever, or they’ll look really foolish clinging to an antiquated belief. Kinda like Democrats of old insisting there was nothing wrong with slavery.

  6. All Romney has to do is pull an Obama and say he supports gay marriage but isn’t going to do anything about it. Shouldn’t that satisfy them?

  7. Dick Cheney supported gay marriage when he was Vice President, back when Biden and Obama were both opposed. Don’t think it changed any minds.

    1. It didn’t change any minds, because I don’t remember him actually stating that until AFTER he left the vice-presidency.

  8. Shackford’s analysis here comes up short. Davis isn’t “partisan” for objecting to a pro-gay figure offering services as a debate partner for an anti-gay ticket, when his central issue is gay rights. And he doesn’t contradict himself at all by opposing an anti-gay debate partner all the same. That must be the dumbest thing I’ve read – not in the comments – of this site.

    That’s it. I’m Godwinning you turkeys. “Oh, what a character. He’s angry when there’s a Jewish debate partner for the Nazi ticket, and he’s angry when there’s an anti-Semitic debate partner! There’s just no pleasing some people!”

    1. You and your ilk are why I have nothing but contempt for the gay left.

    2. It’s not that I really care about the Romney/Ryan ticket and yes, it is quite possible that said ticket might be cynically using a pro equal-protection-under-the-law proponent (pro Gay seems to evoke something else); however, cynicalism wasn’t the argument made by Davis or you.
      Instead, you and Davis preferred partisan we-know-what-you-are-thinking hyperbole.
      If there is any objection to Shackford’s posting, it is why it should be newsworthy that a partisan hack wouldn’t object to anything stolen from his team’s copyright.

    3. I bet Davis will be really happy Olson is spending time with Ryan if they end up winning the election. That’s the problem with partisan hackery. Because Davis cannot allow himself the possibility of considering that Obama might lose, he cannot consider the benefits of Olson on Romney/Ryan’s team.

  9. Romney and Ryan are as pro-gay as Obama. Not in policy yet, but they’re not anti-gay.

  10. Paul Ryan resembles Jake Gyllenhaal who was gay as fuck in Brokeback Mountain….. just saying.

  11. What would happen to the Democratic Party if and when the Republicans finally embraced gay marriage as policy?

    A bunch of Democrats would be Republicans. A bunch of Republicans would become non-voters, or try to primary those other Republicans.

    The latter is why so few Republicans do this seemingly obvious thing. That and Teh Bible Sez So.

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