Political Animal


April 24, 2012 4:02 PM “You’re Going To Be Left in the Dustbin of History, Buddy”

By Ed Kilgore

It’s no surprise that the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has exploited Mitt Romney’s hiring of openly gay Ric Grenell as a foreign policy spokesman to draw attention to himself and thunder against Romney’s betrayal of his own LDS faith and the GOP’s “social conservative base.”

But he really stepped in it today by appearing as a guest of CNN’s Kyra Phillips, who nicely trapped him into admitting Grenell’s sodomite ways didn’t keep right-wing hero John Bolton from doing a “great job” when Grenell worked for him.

But the main reason I’m posting about this is to give an attaboy to the Log Cabin Republicans’ Clarke Cooper for this riposte to Fischer near the end of the segment:

“Bryan, ya’ll gotta be careful, because you are starting to sounding like George Wallace, ‘segregation today, segregation tomorrow,’” Cooper warned. “Be careful because you’re going to be left in the dust bin of history, buddy.”

That’s probably true, given the rapidly increasing acceptance of same-sex relationships by Americans, and the generational fault lines (even among conservative evangelicals) that make it just a matter of time. But it does raise the question of exactly when and how conservative evangelical leaders are going to reverse themselves on treating homosexuality as a sinful choice that is “offensive to God,” as Fischer likes to put it.

Believers in biblical inerrancy have a tough time with this issue, because there is more biblical support for hostility to same-sex relationships than there is to the parallel belief that abortion is murder. Non-fundamentalists obviously don’t have a problem treating the homophobia expressed in certain Pauline epistles as culturally influenced dicta remote from or even in conflict with the Christian faith. And just as obviously, most fundamentalists have found ways to rationalize even starker biblical judgements against divorce and (most of all) the accumulation of wealth. But they don’t have a Pope or an officially recognized Prophet to tell them it’s okay to change their minds about the Eternal Truths of scripture, and they’ve invested far too much in identification of their faith with cultural conservatism to allow individual conscience or considerations of charity interfere with the belief they are under a divine obligation to keep up the fight against the satanic powers of modernity and “moral relativism.”

Still, Cooper is right, and officially sanctioned homophobia will eventually succumb just like de jure segregation did. When it finally dies, though, it will not only be a noisy death, but one that threatens much of the substructure of self-righteous certainty that has made the Christian Right so powerful.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • boatboy_srq on April 24, 2012 4:19 PM:

    I'm surprised to have to remind a Left-coaster of this, but there ARE those among us who believe that the first fatal wounds to officially-sanctioned-homophobia movement have already been dealt, and what we're hearing are the first screams of a movement on it's long, slow way to that very dustbin.

    Then again, there are those who were genuinely surprised that the NRA would make millions - and engineer the sale of millions of firearms - all because TABMITWH.

  • Doug on April 24, 2012 4:21 PM:

    "But they don't have a Pope or an officially recognized Prophet..."
    An awful lot of pretenders though...

  • K Wilson on April 24, 2012 4:51 PM:

    " . . . one that threatens much of the substructure of self-righteous certainty that has made the Christian Right so powerful."

    Nah. Yes, resistance by those on the right to social inclusion and basic human decency toward gays will be driven into dark atavistic corners, just like happened with legal racial discrimination. But if you imagine that will make the least dent in their self-righteous certainty, you'll be sorely disappointed. They may change their ideas, but they'll still be sure that God's on their side. When a fundamentalist understands that the fact your God hates all the same people you do is a clear sign you made him up, fundamentalism has been left far behind.

  • bleh on April 24, 2012 6:43 PM:

    Agree that the righteousness will survive -- because the underlying fear does. But the homophobia will abate, because it's the particular issue of a bunch of old men who will die. Indeed that's why the issue is dying nationally. It's grampa's issue. And that's why it WON'T be a noisy death. In fact, most will welcome its quiet passing.

  • John on April 24, 2012 6:44 PM:

    I suspect they'll just find some other group of outsiders to hate. You always need outsiders to define the insiders.

  • Steve P on April 24, 2012 10:00 PM:

    They won't reverse themselves.
    They'll be replaced by the younger generation of smoothies. I can easily see Ludovico-treatment-eyed Rick Osteen making that turn, or some guy with a beard who doesn't wear ties.

    The old farts will turn up on TCT or really late at night in Dr. Gene Scott's old slot, trying to wheedle money out of insomniacs and alcoholics.
    Show business is always tough.

  • Lincoln Kennedy on April 24, 2012 11:48 PM:

    This guy just proves my oft-repeated point that conspicuously Irish-sounding first names paired with obviously non-Irish ethnic last names are stupid in every way.

  • Sean Scallon on April 25, 2012 8:00 AM:

    "Believers in biblical inerrancy have a tough time with this issue, because there is more biblical support for hostility to same-sex relationships than there is to the parallel belief that abortion is murder."

    Or segregation for that matter. It was easy for Falwell and others in the original Religious Right to drop their support segregation. Almost impossible when it comes to homosexuality.

  • POed Lib on April 25, 2012 12:51 PM:

    The whole marriage equality thing has been a democratic wound since 1992. Marriage equality activists could have suggested a go-slow, incremental approach. Instead, it was pedal-to-the-metal. Now, partly as a result, we have constitutional amendments in 30+ states. These are very hard to remove. Unless the SCOTUS declares them unconstitutional, they will stay until removed. So, gay activists, continue pushing, pushing, pushing. You alienate black social conservatives, Latino social conservatives, and others in the Democratic tent due to economic issues. These people know where the exit is. Push them out, and replace them with who? Gays are 1-2% of the population. And, NO, gays are not 10%.

  • Rick B on April 25, 2012 6:43 PM:

    The leaders of the "self-righteous" christian right hold what power they have because they can show they have so many very dangerous enemies. As long as homosexuals stayed in the closet and almost no one was certain how many LGBT people they knew, worked with and liked, the biblical inerrantists could use the "secret and immoral enemy" as a danger to their parishioners. That's no longer possible in urban environments.

    That really could be seen starting to rapidly crumble when the well liked Rock Hudson died and it was reported that he died of AIDS in 1985. So many LGBT individuals have come out of the closet now that it's hard for any city-dweller to claim that they are uniquely a danger to society simply because of their choice of same-ender sex objects or failure to accept mentally that the gender of their body matches the mental image they hold of the sexual social roles they feel they must perform. The only part of society that LGBT individuals threaten is rabid anti-homosexual preachers who draw personal power by defining and attacking some imaginary threat that LGBT individuals are supposed to represent.

    Homophobia is the real aberration and it will die along with the sick old men who try to pass it on to the disinterested younger generation.