When it’s really clear that one is looking for the right thing in the wrong place, I often use the metaphor of shopping for groceries at the hardware store. Your intentions might be good, but no matter how hard you look, you’re not going to find ketchup in the plumbing aisle (except, perhaps, as a stain on the shirt of the hardware store clerk).
The most recent example of this disconnect is documented in today’s New York Times. The gist of the article is that a considerable number of influential Conservative Republicans are boycotting the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) because the unfortunately-named GOProud political action committee was co-sponsoring the event. Although I’m sure including gay people chafed, this breach of Republican tenets was somehow able to be overlooked by the other more conservative participants of that conference for GOProud to participate in the conference. After all, there are all those supposed gay dollars to be raised. But, for venerable institutions like Concerned Women for America, the Heritage Foundation, and all those other rabid right leaning groups whose names sound like they were created by some Internet conservative organization name generator, the fact that GOProud participated in the planning of the conference was too much for their weak little hearts to take and, thus, the boycott.
If you truly want pay to listen for three non-stop days to the vitriol of the likes of Ann Coulter, Jim Demint, Michelle “Vacant Stare” Bachmann, Wayne Lapierre, Liz Cheney, and a whole host of others, I fully defend your right to waste your money. Go ahead. Knock yourselves out.
But what I can’t get my brain around is that, somehow, certain gay people still believe that the Republican Party has carved out a viable little niche for them. They seem to believe that there’s actually seat at the table for them. But clearly, as evidenced by these recent reports, the best that the Republicans can come up with is a seat at the children’s table. The GOProud folks don’t seem to understand that, unless there’s a tectonic shift in the underlying philosophy of the Republican party, they will always be shopping for groceries at the hardware store if they choose to align themselves with this socially conservative crowd.
In some way, I suppose it should be no surprise that GOProud finds this arrangement acceptable; the group has already fully embraced second-class citizenship. Their platform wants no federal involvement in gay marriage, although it has been proven time and again that there is no way to achieve true parity without a federal standard.
For those of us unwilling to settle for the crumbs, perhaps it would be helpful for these conservatives to agree upon and publish the hierarchy so that we know just how much or how little citizenship they think we deserve. But they can’t even seem to agree among themselves. But it’s really clear that even so-called moderate Republicans don’t want gay people to be full citizens. And, perhaps, that’s because there is no good answer, except for full equality.
But this kind of clarification of their narrow-mindedness – a concrete definition of just what the Republicans expect of gay people – would be good for all of us. It would help Republicans define their platform. It would help the GOProud folks see exactly who they were in bed with. Most of all, it would save all of us so many trips to the wrong aisle of wrong store.