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Opinion: Giuliani's Moderate Stance on Gay Marriage Represent the GOP's Future

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 11:13 AM

On Sunday, former New York City mayor, and moderate Republican, Rudy Giuliani had some interesting comments to make about the increasingly extreme position his party is taking on gay rights issues.

He said:

“I think that marriage should be between a man and woman, but I think that the Republican Party would be well advised to get the heck out of people’s bedrooms and let these things get decided by states.”

After CNN's Candy Crowley asked whether he thinks any harm will come to New York from legalizing gay marriage, Giuliani responded by saying:

“I don’t see harm. Although, I think it would be better for stability of families if we kept marriage between a man and woman. I see more harm, however, by dwelling so much on the subject of gays and lesbians and whether it’s right or wrong in politics. We’ve got far - not necessarily more important things - but far more relevant things to talk about.

"I think if you are a libertarian Republican or you have a streak of libertarian Republican, I don’t know what the heck the Republican Party wants to do getting involved in people’s sexual lives and personal lives so much for. Stay out of it and it would be much more a successful party if we stuck to our economic, conservative roots and our idea of a strong, assertive America that is not embarrassed to be the leader of the world.”

Rudy Giuliani's statements that the GOP should leave issues like gay marriage to the states, and stay out of peoples' bedrooms is absolutely the sort of thinking that a growing majority of Americans agree with. If you avoid the using the term marriage you even get into super-majority territory. But not the Republican party. If anything, they've become even more anti-gay rights in recent years, with so many moderates having left the party as it moved farther right.

So one wonders whether the GOP will eventually turn back, and begin to accept those who are tolerant and supportive of gay rights, or whether they'll continue to go off into eventual obsolescence. One would expect to see gay marriage pass in New York before a lot of other states, given how many more liberals you have there than conservatives, but support for gay rights is high even among right leaning younger people. These younger potential supporters may end up joining the ranks of independents should the party not open the tent to them more.

I don't think it's possible to know what will happen on down the line. It certainly wouldn't be unusual historically for a party to change course on an issue when confronted with such a clear indication that it is a losing position to take, but I can't think of an example where the issue in question was so staunchly held by the base of said party.

I do know that a large number of movement type social conservatives will fight tooth and nail for this cornerstone of their belief system to not change, but I also know that there is a huge chunk of the party that wants to actually win elections. These more fiscally focused conservatives are likely to begin to revolt if the other major faction inside the republican tent becomes a major hindrance to winning in all but the most deep red districts and states. Those business interests don't care about the right's social agenda, they care about making money. Will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out in coming years.

Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.

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Comments [4]

Gerald from San Diego

It obviously can’t be the past because the GOP has NEVER had a collectively moderate position on gay marriage, ever. The mere suggestion that this might have been the case is absurd given DOMA, DADT, and other egregious examples.

It may be the past of Giuliani’s going-nowhere political career, but not of his party.

So that leaves us with considering whether this asinine “split the difference” / punt it to the states gambit will become the dominant position of the future GOP.

This stance WAS the de facto but now waning position of the Democratic Party when it too thought the best compromise between equal rights and no rights was pseudo-rights. Obviously that has been and continues to change, just as Obama has qualified his stance as “evolving.”

And certainly there are wealthy, moderate wafflers in the Republican Party who think that a patchwork, tiered structure of second-class rights is a great hedge against looking like a outright bigot. Jon Huntsman is an example.

The Republican Party has spent almost the last two decades demonizing gays and gay marriage, using it to mobilize their base voters in elections with anti-gay ballot measures and state constitutional amendments.

They drew a dramatic line in the sand by overselling gay marriage as the veritable DESTRUCTION of all marriage and the unraveling of the nuclear family, with ominous consequences for children to boot.

How can they walk back from a cliff they’ve already jumped off?

Would you give any credibility to a party that told you it was fighting immorality incarnate but now is okay with it if we call it something else?

Those base voters certainly won’t. Observe their ongoing and recently ratcheted-up obsession with abortion — a culture war that they lost FORTY years ago.

GOP voters want to remove the Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled that gay marriage bans were unconstitutional. They’re doing this out of RETRIBUTION, because it won’t result in an immediate or even foreseeable alteration in the law or ruling.

So no, this issue will simply be another source of increasing fracture leading to schism in the Republican party, along with immigration, abortion, and all the issues encompassing the culture wars that the conservative base both can’t win and can’t let go of, either.

This is what happens when a party that rejects pluralism, secularism, and intellectualism tries to compete in a modern democracy.

But since you’re the (former?) lifelong Republican, Solomon, you tell us.

Jul. 24 2011 11:15 AM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

That's not necessarily true Chris. It's rare for a moderate to not support equal marriage rights, but most people have at least a few issues that aren't in line with the stereotype of their political label. Lots of conservative youth who are for gay rights, and lots of liberal youth who are more for trimming entitlement spending to make it more likely it'll be there for them when they retire for instance.

Jul. 20 2011 06:59 PM
Kenyon Farrow from Brooklyn

I also wrote on this issue a few weeks ago: http://www.alternet.org/vision/151444/gay_marriage_in_new_york%3A_progressive_victory_or_gop_roadmap

Jul. 20 2011 03:40 PM
Chris

If you are young and don't support equal marriage rights, you're not a moderate, but a coward.

Jul. 20 2011 02:42 PM

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