OCALA, Fla., January 23, 2014 — Like it or not, there is no denying that the American gay rights movement has seen remarkable success.
Beyond partisan rhetoric and ideological labels, what sort of methodology have gay rights activists used? Considering that same-sex marriages were illegal in all fifty states until one decade ago, their tactics should be the envy of sage political strategists.
“I can only speak from the Log Cabin Republicans perspective, and tell you that our strategy has been twofold: direct engagement of GOP elected officials through our leadership at both our National HQ and through the Chapter Leaders who head our local iterations across the country, and grassroots work that we do via our non-partisan think tank Liberty Education Forum, which focuses on delivering a message of gay acceptance to conservatives and people of faith,” LCR Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo explains to Communities Digital News.
During the 2012 Republican primaries, Fred Karger became America’s first openly gay presidential candidate. Prior to this, he consulted on the campaigns of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bob Dole, among others. These days, he is an advocate for moderate Republican politics.
“We’ve just appealed to American’s sense of fairness, by putting names and faces to the movement,” Karger tells CDN. “LGBT people coming out and telling their stories has had a remarkable effect on the dramatic change in public opinion in this country. Also, responsible for this sea change is the tremendous role that Hollywood has played. With the vast number of LGBT characters in movies and on television we’ve seen through shows like Will and Grace the power to change hearts and minds.”
Many of those with right-of-center opinions have been slow, if not hostile, in accepting gay rights. Are any serious inroads being made here?
“The preponderance of right-of-center people I have met are supporters of gay rights in varying capacities — including marriage equality,” Angelo says. “Recent polling bears out my experience as true. I’ve found the only people hostile to equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans are part of a fringe of the GOP that is obsessed with anti-gay politics.
“The fact that in 2013 alone we had three sitting Republican members of the United States Senate come out and declare their support of marriage equality for committed same-sex couples, and ten Republican United States Senators vote in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) shows me that there is far more support for equal rights for gay Americans than the anti-gay GOP fringe is willing to admit.”
Karger claims that “(r)eligious right groups like the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage and the American Family Association raise tens of millions of dollars every year by demonizing LGBT people. Their leadership is relentless in their attempt to make million dollar salaries and get their faces on TV.
“Several of these personalities have recently come out in support of gay marriage like the Prop 8 trial’s star wittiness, David Blankenhorn. Other leading opponents of LGBT rights have gotten themselves in precarious situations like Family Research Council co-founder George Alan Rekers. Mr. Rekers had been a vicious anti-gay activist until he got caught taking a young male prostitute on a 10 day trip to Europe.”