by Max Brantley
Does a wild hog crap in the woods?
The U.S. Supreme Court was still reading opinions in the two momentous gay rights cases this morning when shills for the Republican Party began demanding reactions from Democratic politicians on the issues. Not Republican politicians, mind you.
The subtext is clear. The Republican echo chamber firmly believes that Arkansans detest queers. Any bow to elemental fairness toward them is, therefore, automatically a loser. Also they believe: Democrats are queer-lovers. Thus, Democrats are certain to cater to their base by either applauding the constitutional promise of equal rights, even for sexual minorities, or by somewhat uncomfortably enunciating a religious opposition to same-sex marriage, but a belief in kind treatment of gay people of a somewhat amorphous nature. (See U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor on the latter.)
But let's get more to the root of things for Asa!, Sister Debra and Bro. Coleman (who apparently abhors homosexuality among the putative Biblical sins far more than spousal unfaithfulness, based on the record):
* Would you hire an openly homosexual person as a staff member?
* Would you shake the hand of an openly homosexual person?
* Would you appoint a homosexual to a state board or commission?
* Do you believe homosexuals should be allowed to serve on state boards and commissions? Jerry Cox, chaplain to the Arkansas Republican Party, does not, to name one.
* Do you think someone legally married in another state should be entitled to receive taxpayer-financed health insurance coverage for their legal spouse, the same as heterosexual couples?
* Should homosexuals be able to adopt or foster children?
* Should it be legal for employers to fire someone simply because they are homosexual?
* Should children be punished for harassing other children over their sexual orientation? Or should this be viewed as religious freedom?
* Should the life partner in a homosexual couple be prevented from visiting that partner in hospice if a blood relative objects?
* Should the life partner in a homosexual couple be deprived of inheritance protections granted blood relatives?
* Would you disown a homosexual child?
* Do you believe homosexuality is a chosen orientation? When did you choose to be heterosexual?
Stand and deliver, Republicans. The country is evolving — Arkansas admittedly more slowly than the rest of the states — in part because the issue increasingly has a human face. It's easy to fear and decry the unknown. It is somewhat harder to spit in the face of a living, breathing Arkansan. I saw this graphically in my visits over the years to Arkansas Boys State, where a handful of delegates now live openly as gays, despite some significant continuing animosity but also with the help of a rising degree of tolerance among their peers.
If I know Arkansas Republicans — and if their shills are any indication — I know they are nonetheless up to the task of spitting in the face of minorities when an opportunity arises.
PS — I wrote in my link about Boys State about Brandon Brock, a Boys State delegate who wrote to thank me for speaking in support of gay rights when he was an isolated, closeted Arkansas teen years ago at Boys State. He's now living in California and married. He commented today on Facebook:
Alexis Caloza and I married again in California and married for the first time with the American government. The two Supreme Court cases are huge victories and (almost) couldn't be better. I feel so American. Thanks to everyone for their support and to J-J-Lynn Elmore Brock and Eric Brock for supporting me in the amicus brief for PFLAG in the DOMA case to which I'm totally crediting the Supreme Court's ruling on.
PS — There are untold numbers of questions engendered by the DOMA ruling. One: if you're legally married in Massachusetts, but live in Arkansas, do you qualify for federal benefits? Another relates to the silence in the opinion on the section of the law that says it's up to states whether to respect marriages from other states. Opinions diverge. Lots of discussion of these points on scotusblog.com
PPS — The Huckster came through. "Jesus wept" and SCOTUS believes it's "bigger than God." Dan Savage replied to Huckster that he wept, too.
Also, from the haters at the Family Council: essentially, it could have been worse.