A Sad Day For Gay Republicans?

by James Kirchick | September 5, 2008

Minutes after John McCain finished his speech tonight, a prominent gay conservative wrote me with this observation:

I liked it a lot. I'm delighted I was wrong to expect a reference to SSM [Same-Sex Marriage]. Am I right that this was the first GOP acceptance speech since probably 1992 not to mention defending traditional marriage or something similar?

I'd have to do a search through the past 16 years of previous acceptance speeches, but I believe my friend is correct. Indeed, the difference in tone on gay issues -- for those who were listening specifically -- between this convention and the last is markedly different. Which isn't much of a surprise, seeing that McCain's entirely comfortable around gays and has no interest in the GOP base's anti-gay hysteria. The Advocate's Sean Kennedy, no McCain partisan he, notes that, aside from a Mike Huckabee promise to save marriage from the gays, "there was an utter lack of rhetoric on gay issues" at the convention. Other gay sources within the GOP tell me they are very pleased not only with the McCain pick, but also, surprisingly, with the Palin one (I've been looking into her record on gay issues this past week and will have more to report later). All in all, they view McCain's ascension (and the rejection of Mitt Romney, whom the Log Cabin Republicans attempted to torpedo in the primary) as a move in the right direction for the GOP, and whatever the weird church revival feel of the convention this past week, I think they're correct.

So if you're looking at this convention from a gay Republican standpoint (as opposed to a sympathetic liberal one), I don't think it's fair to conclude, as my colleague John Judis recently did, that this has been a "sad" week for them. Of course, it's not like gay Republicans have had a lot of great days over the past 8 years...

--James Kirchick 

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/sad-day-gay-republicans