On the heels of President Barack Obama’s public statement favoring marriage equality, a new Political Research Associates (PRA) report indicates that homophobia remains one of the most successful right-wing tools for mobilizing electoral support.
The right-wing utilizes victories for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) advocates – from the strides for marriage equality to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – to build their own political power by provoking fear in order to mobilize donations and political action. Resisting the Rainbow: Right-Wing Responses to LGBT Gains (pdf), released online today, identifies and analyzes new players, key threats, and principal strategies on the Right.
“Whenever a seemingly progressive victory occurs, we need to keep an eye out on the opposition,” commented Pam Chamberlain, the report’s compiler. “After the President’s coming out in favor of same-sex marriage on May 9th, it is important to realize that a response from the Right is coming – especially, people should be aware for the upcoming election.”
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, already sees the prospects for drumming up conservative support, stating: “Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama.” Maggie Gallagher, National Organization for Marriage co-founder, echoes this: “We now have clear choice between Romney and Obama, and we look forward to demonstrating in November that it’s a bad idea for a national candidate to support gay marriage.” Both Perkins and Gallagher appear in the report’s profile section highlighting prominent anti-LGBT figures and organizations.
“In an electoral season where social conservatives have had lackluster interest in the presumptive nominee, the President’s announcement revives hope that this can become a get out the vote opportunity,” said Tarso Luís Ramos, PRA Executive Director. “In important swing states, and especially states such as Maine and Minnesota where same-sex marriage initiatives are appearing on the ballot, we can expect to see this become a general election issue.”
Resisting the Rainbow also features a series of case studies, many written by advocates and journalists directly involved in ballot contests on LGBT issues, offering in-depth examples and important takeaways for progressive advocates and others interested in understanding right-wing tactics. Examples from the past few years include California, Florida, and Kalamazoo, Michigan, while studies going back to the 1990s also hold significant lessons for today’s equality struggles.
One of those case studies, “Inside the Belly of the Beast: The Rise and Fall of Colorado’s Amendment 2,” details the passage of the 1992 anti-LGBT law. Cara DeGette, a longtime journalist and author of the case study, noted that understanding the state’s history holds particular import this year, when a proposal to adopt civil unions in Colorado had enough support to pass, but was blocked by social conservatives on the last night of the session. “The next day,” DeGette said, “an emotional Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered a special session, to begin next week, allowing the debate and vote on civil unions to move forward. Interestingly, the governor’s call for a special session came the same day the President announced his support for same-sex marriage.”