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					This week Ken Mehlman, former top Bush aid and former head of the
Republican National Committee, declared he was gay. Mehlman, was one of
the chief architects of Bush?s 2004 re-election campaign, which was won
primarily by promoting wedge issues like anti-gay marriage amendments in
critical swing states. With his new public admission of his sexuality,
and with political trends moving towards popular acceptance of gay
rights, what will conservative politics in the future mean for gay
rights?      The story of the politics of division is a story that is as
old as the civil war. For almost a hundred years after the civil war the
south was considered a Democratic strong hold. Regardless of the
candidate, the Democratic party could count on winning the Conservative
Southern vote. However, that all changed in 1968. This was time of great
political upheaval. Desegregation was a major issue in the South. The
Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson, had disappointed many loyal
Southerners in his support of the civil rights movement. In the 1968
election, Richard Nixon, a Republican, took advantage of the resentment
within the Southern states and devised the Solid South strategy.


  The Nixon Solid South strategy was simple. It would use code words like
?states rights?, ?traditional values?, and ?law and order? to express to
Southern white voters that Nixon stood for their values. The tactic
worked, and it turned the once Solid Democratic South from blue to deep
red. By the 1972 election, Nixon won almost every state in the Union
except for Massachusetts.      Flash forward to the re-election campaign
of George Bush in 2004, and racial civil rights divisions had largely
gone away. However, the new target of civil rights weren?t based on race,
but based on sexual orientation. Ken Mehlman, told The Atlantic, that
Karl Rove had devised a new plan for the Republican party to use anti-gay
initiatives and referendums to help increase Republican turn out in the
2004 election in key battleground states like Ohio.      Even though Ken
Mehlman was the Republican leader at the time, he didn?t feel he was in a
powerful enough position to go against the universal sentiment within the
party against gay rights. During the 2004 election only 31% of the US
general population was in favor of gay marriage rights. The anti-gay
initiatives worked, and George Bush won an easy re-election in 2004, even
though his overall popularity was under 50% at the time of re-election.
In 2004, George Bush won the mandate that was denied to him in the 2000
election.      The gay wedge issue was successfully used again by
Republicans in the 2008 election in California by sponsoring Prop 8,
which constitutionally banned gay marriage in the state, after the
California Supreme Court ruled marriage rights could not be denied to gay
couples. During the 2008 election only three states had legalized gay
marriage, and still only 36% of the population was in favor of gay
marriage.      However, since 2008 popular opinion about gay marriage,
and gay rights in general have shifted dramatically. Today, the country
is split 50/50 in support of gay marriage. A new CNN poll shows that 22
states currently support gay marriage. Perhaps its because gay marriage
became legal in a heartland state like Iowa. The world didn?t end, and no
?straight? marriages were in jeopardy because Iowa legalized gay
marriage. In the Prop 8 trial, the defense for Prop 8 couldn?t come up
with a single credible reason to deny gay marriage. Their only argument
was that ?straight? marriages were preferable to gay marriage, because
they could produce children. However, they failed to reasonably provide
an answer for ?straight? couples who couldn?t have children. Should they
be denied the right to marry?      Ken Mehlman, today claims that he has
struggled with his sexuality for years, and only recently decided to come
out so he could support gay marriage rights. Even though he?s late to the
game, we should all appreciate his willingness to come out and support
this fundamental right. If the Republican party wants to be the party of
family values, they ought to all be on the bandwagon of gay marriage
rights.      While it?s almost certain that gay marriage is headed
towards the Supreme Court, and more than likely will become the law of
the land in all fifty states, there are far more issues our community has
to think about. Even if we get the right to marry, we still face
discrimination in the work place. Congress has promised us ENDA (The
Employment Non-Discrimination Act), but they have yet to move any
legislation forward. Nancy Pelosi has promised us an end of ?Don?t Ask,
Don?t Tell?, however, that has also stalled in congress.      With the
2010 election the Democrats will more than likely barely keep control of
both houses of congress. Which means that we?ll need Republicans like Ken
Mehlman to stand up for gay rights. We?ll need Republican support in the
House and Senate to push these much needed bills forward.      With
public sentiment on our side, it?s not a matter of if, it?s a matter of
when we?ll get these rights. If the Republican party was smart, they
would drop their politics of division, and start looking to court gay
conservatives to their cause. It?s not an unheard of proposition, the
Conservative Party in the UK has already embraced gay Members of
Parliament. Last year during CPAC, the Conservative Party of the UK sent
a few MPs to speak on behalf of gay rights within the Conservative
movement.      These are all good signs for all of us. The question of
our rights are changing from if we should have rights, to which party
will stand behind our rights the most. That?s something we can all be
optimistic about.        GayLynx - It's About Love! For the best in gay
entertainment, gay equality, and gay romance.


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