Is the Republican party finally starting to come to its senses on the question of treating the gays with a modicum of dignity? On the surface of things, it appears that may indeed be the case. Every few months for the past few years, news is made when a prominent Republican, such as Laura Bush or Meghan McCain, publicly state their support the gay rights movement. The fact that it’s newsworthy has nothing to do with the fact not that it’s official Republican policy (it’s not), but because it’s so far out of the mainstream of Republican political thought these days that it’s a novelty.
Recent developments in the past month have given some cause to think otherwise. A laundry list of Republican notables signed onto an amicus brief in support of marriage equality for upcoming litigation in connection with the Defense of Marriage Act and California Proposition 8. The list includes a bevy of conservatives from the northeast, former members of Congress and governors, party officials and campaign strategists. Also of note, Jon Huntsman also came out in favor of marriage equality this past week, becoming the only GOP presidential contender from the past electoral cycle to have done so. And S.E. Cupp, conservative commentator, refused an invitation to CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee conference, due to their continued exclusion of GOProud, a gay Republican (shudder) activist group.
This is progress, to be sure. But the fact of the matter is this: Republican officials, be they members of Congress, legislators or governors, the ones currently in office and holding the reins of power, stand in stark contrast to these newly vocal fellow Republicans on this issue. Bashing gay rights is still red meat for the base of the GOP, and no matter how many notable party officials, former elected officials and wives and children of former officials come out in favor of gay marriage, when it comes down to the calculus of power on the issue, the Republican party is still the same homophobic organization that they were when dialogue on the issue first started about twenty years ago.