Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

Just Your Average Gay Black Republican Minister  | e-mail post

The Star-Tribune yesterday ran an article on Dennis Sanders, a minister at Lake Harriet Christian Church. When you think about it, Dennis may truly be in a class by himself. And certainly he has a sense of humor about his sui generis state "I'm more of a moderate, old-style Rockefeller Republican, which makes me even more of an oddity." Hear, hear!

Sanders is also part of the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay arm of the Republican party, which was very well-profiled by Ira Glass' "This American Life," as I mentioned in a recent post. As a Republican who occasionally feels like my party is a little too homogenous, I like the fact that guys like Sanders are out there in the public eye. I guess the only unfortunate thing is that it is fundamentally notable that a gay, black man would be a Republican.

I would encourage gays to read the article on Sanders and definitely listen to the This American Life piece from a couple weeks back. As one black Republican quoted in the Star-Tribune piece mentioned: "Joining a political party is not about being accepted, it's about trying to make changes. Being accepted is essentially determined by what you do." The Log Cabin Republicans on TAL said a similar thing: they feel there is a better chance to get what they want in terms of gay rights inside the party.

The Republican party is subject to change, and the socially conservative wing is really only 25 years old, having been ushered into the mainline Republican platform through Reagan's coalition-building. When you look at the up-and-comers in the party, they are not that reactionary about social issues. Consider that the Massachusetts Supreme Court, the one that opened the door to gay marriage in that state, was headed by an appointee of William Weld a Republican. Weld actually went back to Massachusetts to perform a wedding for one of his former staffers and his partner. Look at guys like George Pataki or Mike Bloomberg or even Ah-nold. Or consider Norm Coleman, Minnesota's Democrat-turned-Republican Senator who took his transexual deputy mayor with him to Washington when he was elected to the Senate [story]. These are not people whose blood runs cold at the thought of people with different sexual preferences. In fact, if you listen to what guys like Weld and Arlen Specter said when speaking to the Log Cabin Republicans at the convention, you would be shocked. Certainly some of the Log Cabin Republicans Ira Glass spoke with were surprised.

Coalition-building with the Christian right is simply a tactical necessity for the Republican party to win in most elections. The only way to change that is for people from traditionally non-Republican groups to take another look at the Republican party and maybe come on over if the genuine core beliefs of traditional Republicanism make sense to them. If enough people like Dennis Sanders, people who "shouldn't" be Republicans, come to the party, the tactical depdendence on the Christian right diminishes, and the party can begin to move back to the center. And that's an outcome I would certainly like to see.

UPDATE: America's Smallest Constituency flexes its muscle: "Black Gay Republicans Break with Log Cabin Republicans, Endorse Bush." Hey, if the election is going to be a squeaker, these guys could make the difference.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Wednesday, September 22, 2004
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