Now that the last of the "too close to call" races have finally been decided, and you've finished listening to your conservative relatives bitch over Thanksgiving dinner, I think we can officially declare the dust settled for the 2012 election. Of course, for the media, all that means is that we start counting down until the next election. Just like Christmas time, election season seems to get longer and longer every time, and we're already hearing some pre-election buzz surrounding the likes of Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, Marco Rubio, and yet another Bush. Not to mention that every conservative pundit in the country is now trying to spin their recent defeat into a strategy for how to dominate the next election.
"We need to more clearly articulate our positions!"
"We need to find candidates who are even more conservative!"
"We need to boycott the Electoral College!"
The list goes on and on.
This past Thanksgiving, I made it a point to try to engage my conservative family members in a little bit of political discourse. First and foremost, as a proud Obama supporter, I wanted an opportunity to gloat a little bit. However I also wanted to continue a conversation that we had just before November 6. Since my family is Cuban, they are hard-wired to tout conservative values and individual liberty. Yet, because they love me and care for my well being, they also support my right to marry and raise a family. I thought I could use this to my advantage. I told them all about Romney's repeated pledges to organizations like NOM. I told them about how Tony Perkins had gotten antigay rhetoric included in the Republican Party's platform. I presented them with every piece of evidence I could find. But it was to no avail.
All I got in return was a half-hearted response about how "we need to focus on more pressing issues right now..." The most infuriating part was this: when I went to bring up the subject again, they didn't seem to change their tune at all. They insisted on sticking by their "we'll get there eventually" mindset.
Here's the unfortunate reality: my family is not a rare breed in today's Republican party. I'm no pollster, but a majority of the conservatives I talk to are just fine with the idea of LGBT rights. They may not all support full marriage equality, but they at least don't believe that we should be treated as second class citizens. Yet when I attempt to call them out for supporting an antigay candidate, I'm always met with excuses, backtracking, or even counter arguments about "the president can't really decide anything about gay marriage anyway!" Needless to say, this is frustrating. After all, it's one thing to say that you support a cause, and an entirely different thing altogether to actually support said cause. However, the most frustrating part for me was not these people's lack of support during the last election.
Gay and gay-friendly conservatives in this country have been handed a golden opportunity, here. The Republican party could sense a change coming in public opinion regarding certain social issues, LGBT rights being among them. Yet their response, rather than to change with the times, was to galvanize its opposition and stand its supposed "moral high ground," to the point where they even introduced antigay rhetoric to the party platform for the first time in history. For a while, it seemed like a decent enough strategy. After all, virtually every poll put Obama and Romney neck-and-neck right up until election day. But now, the aftermath points to a very different conclusion. I think it's rather safe to say that standing their ground hasn't helped the Republican party at all.
Of course, the GOP doesn't seem to be learning from its mistakes. So far, the only issue they seem to be willing to budge on is immigration reform, and that only depends on what strategist you talk to. Now, as someone who supported the Democrats in the last election, I'm just fine with my adversaries repeating the mistakes of the past and possibly setting themselves up for even more failure. At the same time, though, I have to look at my Republican friends and family and say to them: "for God's sake, grow a pair already!"
I can understand why you might have relented on these issues before. The United States is a very large and diverse country with an incredible wealth of differing opinions. So when you're one of only two major political parties in the country, the likelihood that everyone will agree on every issue is virtually nil.
But I've watched for years as loud-mouthed, fanatical, borderline-rabid hyper-conservatives have pushed around all of the rational, reasonable moderates of the party. Yes, it is in the nature of the democratic process that you'll need to compromise in order to get things done (or at least that's how it's supposed to work--ahem). I know that these moderates were also the only ones willing to compromise over certain issues (funny thing about moderates--they tend to behave more rationally). But now I think it's time for moderates to stop enabling their hyper-conservative peers and start playing hardball.
I've heard a lot of conservative pundits weigh in on their defeat in the 2012 election, and not one of them has even come close to admitting "hey, maybe we screwed up with the whole being against equality thing..." Not only have voters indirectly supported LGBT rights by giving many antigay candidates the axe, but they have supported it directly for the first time in history. Yet leadership among the GOP seems to be ignoring this reality completely. Not only are they standing by their original stance, some are even arguing that they need to be even more conservative in their stances.
Now if I were, say, a member of GOProud, I would be absolutely livid. I now have concrete evidence that an antigay stance does absolutely nothing to benefit the Republican Party. You can even argue that such a stance proved to be harmful. Dare I say that this past election has proven your fanatical counterparts wrong. As far as opportunities go, this is as good as it gets. You now have enough evidence to go marching over to your antigay counterparts and say to them "Look, you had your chance, and now you blew it. Now it's our turn."
By the way, it's not like I'm asking you pro-gay Conservatives to do something completely outside the scope of your party's values. Dare I say that letting LGBT citizens have their rights is the kind of "you stay out of my business, I'll stay out of yours" mentality that your party should be about. Granted, I hate squeaky wheels as much as the next person. Dare I say that's why your party has been taken over by a very misguided and enthusiastic few. But if you don't start making some noise and attracting attention, your party is on track to at least make the same mistakes it just finished making earlier this month (and that's a best case scenario). Dare I say that the future of the GOP (as well as the LGBT) depends on it.
This is why I feel comfortable committing the unspeakable sin of giving strategy tips to my opponents. We may have our differences of opinion regarding, say, the current economic situation and what our next best move may be to fix it, but we can at least agree on one thing. These loud-mouthed, close-minded, super-evangelical-crazies who believe that "gay people want to destroy modern society" have got to go. After all, isn't this what America is supposed to be about? Putting aside our differences and working together to solve a common problem? Well, in this case, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, literally in some cases, which is why I felt compelled to write out this little pep talk. So I'll say it just one more time. Gay and pro-gay conservatives, step up your game. Do it for us, do it for your party, and do it for you.
R.J. AGUILAR is one half of the blogger couple behind NotAdamAndSteve.com. He and his partner also run a daily YouTube vlog at youtube.com/shep689.