Connections: A "Pink Purge" And Purple Fingers genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

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I hate to be sarcastic...but not so much so that I won't take an opportunity to point out the difficult position in which the GOP finds itself in the aftermath of the Mark Foley scandal. Here's the snark. The Bush administration and the Republican Party have made a concerted effort to refute claims that Iraq is in the midst of a civil war and here in the U.S. they are now on the precipice of an uncivil war within the ranks of their own formerly lockstep voter coalition. From my perspective there is a degree of poetic justice in that reality.

The Los Angeles Times reports on the growing divide that has emerged with the revelation that a number of gays are in important positions within the GOP...a fact that isn't sitting well with the many voters who have supported GOP candidates because they believed the party was leading the opposition to the gay lifestyle and the gay agenda. While its not the equivalent of the sectarian violence found in Iraq, it does point out that the ideology of absolutism is by no means inclusive and that may well spell the demise of the fragile coalition that Karl Rove has been able to maintain and manipulate for many years.

WASHINGTON — In recent years, the Republican Party aimed to broaden its appeal with a "big-tent" strategy of reaching out to voters who might typically lean Democratic. But now a debate is growing within the GOP about whether the tent has become too big — by including gays whose political views may conflict with the goals of the party's powerful evangelical conservatives.

Some Christians, who are pivotal to the GOP's get-out-the-vote effort, are charging that gay Republican staffers in Congress may have thwarted their legislative agenda. There even are calls for what some have dubbed a "pink purge" of high-ranking gay Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the administration.

The long-simmering tension in the GOP between gays and the religious right has erupted into open conflict at a sensitive time, just weeks before a midterm election that may cost Republicans control of Congress.

"The big-tent strategy could ultimately spell doom for the Republican Party," said Tom McClusky, chief lobbyist for the Family Research Council, a Christian advocacy group. "All a big-tent strategy seems to be doing is attracting a bunch of clowns."

Now the GOP is facing a hard choice — risk losing the social conservatives who are legendary for turning out the vote, or risk alienating the moderate voters who are crucial to this election's outcome.

The problem Rove and the GOP face is that their actions are not consistent with the agenda they have promoted and they don't support the goals of conservative evangelicals. The bottom line is that the agenda of the Bush administration has been to craft a voter coalition that provides them with a means to an end...enough votes to retain power. However, for evangelicals, the means cannot justify the end because their agenda is to amass power in order to limit, exclude, and impose...that being to limit the acceptance of the gay lifestyle, exclude gays from the benefits that come with recognition of their relationships, and impose legislation that insures both of the former. Therefore, the revelation that the GOP has apparently embraced gays such that they may have been willing to look the other way in order to further the Party's goal of retaining power serves to undermine the relationship with evangelicals.

A recent incident that upset social conservatives involved remarks by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week. With First Lady Laura Bush looking on, Rice swore in Mark R. Dybul as U.S. global AIDS coordinator while his partner, Jason Claire, held the Bible. Claire's mother was in the audience, and Rice referred to her as Dybul's "mother-in-law."

"The Republican Party is taking pro-family conservatives for granted," said Mike Mears, executive director of the political action committee of Concerned Women for America, which promotes biblical values. "What Secretary Rice did just the other day is going to anger quite a few people."

It’s important to note just what evangelicals are actually opposing. The actions by Secretary of State Rice were not an endorsement of gay marriage and she was merely conducting the duties of her position. Further, Dybal was being appointed to a position with clear relevance to the gay community yet it still angered a number of evangelicals. We hear over and over again that evangelicals aren't opposed to gays having equal rights so long as they aren't allowed to marry...but if one looks at the reaction to this incident, it is clear that this evangelical rhetoric is meant to disguise their actual agenda...the full rejection of the gay lifestyle through the imposition of legislation that is punitive towards gays. If having a gay man's partner hold the Bible during a swearing in session is unacceptable, just what rights do evangelical believe gays deserve? If this is indicative of compassionate conservatism, I would hate to witness the absence of compassion.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a television interview last week that there should be an investigation into whether gay congressional staffers were responsible for covering up for Foley.

Perkins also has questioned whether gay Republican staffers on Capitol Hill have torpedoed evangelicals' priorities, such as a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. "Has the social agenda of the GOP been stalled by homosexual members and/or staffers?" he asked in an e-mail to supporters.

This week, a list that is said to name gay Republican staffers has been circulated to several Christian and family values groups — presumably to encourage an outing and purge. McClusky acknowledged seeing the list but said his group did not produce it and had no intention of using it.

In reality, little has actually changed. The GOP needs the evangelical vote and the evangelical leaders use volatile issues to achieve influence, power, and wealth through a huge base of donors. The alliance in place between the GOP hierarchy and leaders like Dobson, Robertson, and Perkins remains strong because they serve to facilitate each others objectives. The problem they both face today is that the curtain may have been pulled back far enough to allow their loyal supporters to see that they have been viewed as little more than tools to be manipulated for the benefit of a handful of very powerful organizations and individuals.

There is one further irony found in comparing the unrest in Iraq and the schism within the GOP. Millions of Iraqi's made the effort to cast their votes in hopes of enacting a more equitable government and the Bush administration touted the now famous purple fingers as a symbol of success. Similarly, millions of evangelicals went to the polls in 2002 and 2004 believing they were electing leaders who would enact their agenda. The reality is that the votes by millions of Iraqi's did little to advance the goal of democracy in Iraq as powerful groups and individuals continue to battle for influence and power. There is growing evidence that the outcome here in the United States may well be the same.

Daniel DiRito | October 18, 2006 | 9:30 AM
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