Gay Advocacy Needs Restraining Too

Although saying that about the GOP needing to restrain the rhetoric of some of its activists on the same-sex marriage issue (see post below), gay advocates would be wise to counsel their supporters, too, if they have not already done so, to restrain their rhetoric.

Groups such as the New Civil Rights Movement lump together all those who oppose same-sex marriage, hardly the way to win friends and influence people. You don’t have to be anti-gay or hate gays to disagree with same-sex marriage.

For some the word “marriage” is what is problematic rather than the recognition of monogamous civil union between same-sex couples, for example.

Obviously, neither of the parties nor the candidates can or should be held responsible for the bile individual activists on either side of this issue are hurling. But, of course, they will, and with possible electoral consequences.

 

No Squaring The Circle

The following three things do not cohere – they are unworkable.

1. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s insistence that there can be no going back on the pledges Greece made to get the second tranche of bailout money earlier this year.

2. The wish of 70 percent of Greeks to stay within the eurozone while at the same time failing to provide a working majority for a coalition government pledged to abide by the commitments made to secure the second tranche of bailout money.

3. Abiding by the pledges made to Greece’s European partners and the International Monetary Fund and being able to grow and cut the public debt.

In short, something has to give and the myth that Greece can possibly repay all that it owes,  ever – currently 161 percent of GDP – has to be dispelled. If it isn’t, then contagion will spread and the export market Germany needs to remain prosperous is going to disappear. And no amount of media commentary about disciplined, hardworking Germans and work-shy, lazy Greeks is going to square the circle.

Gay Marriage More Dangerous For Romney

The same-sex marriage issue is going to get complicated for both presidential candidates but Barack Obama is likely to benefit from a more consistent message than Mitt Romney has so far been able to craft.

The President’s position is reasonably simple and can be summed up in a sentence: He is now for same-sex marriages but believes it is up to the states to decide. Romney appears to be attempting to triangulate the issue in a bid both to avoid offending sensitivities that run through the GOP coalition and to steer clear of distracting from his economic pitch to independents.

At first glance, the former Massachusetts governor appears consistent on the issue: he is against same-sex marriage. But then his position starts losing clarity when he’s pressed.

First, he risks irritating states-rights Republicans by his readiness to endorse a federal amendment banning same-sex marriages, while at the same time offending libertarians suspicious of government intrusion in private life.

Second, while opposing same-sex marriage he says he is not against gays adopting children, a position that offends Christian and social conservatives and undermines a key argument that some opponents of gay marriage trot out – namely, that marriage is there for raising children.

And third, Romney opposes not just same-sex marriage but civil unions while at the same time agreeing that same-sex couples should be afforded benefits that heterosexual married couples enjoy, such as being able to pass on pension rights and employee-based health-care coverage.

Romney’s convoluted position is far more demanding to make – and complexity is a real liability in the cut and thrust of election campaigns.

Since Obama’s declaration this week that he has “evolved” to a position of being for same-sex marriage – a strange evolution indeed in that he had been “for” years ago and then back-tracked and has now reversed again – Romney for the first time since he launched his campaign was presented the opportunity of benefiting from energized Christian conservative support. But his contortions on the issue risk sapping much of that energy.

There are risks, too, for President Obama. The majority of states – 30 – have passed gay-marriage bans and his position remains unpopular with significant numbers of black and Latino Democrats. But Romney clearly faces greater challenges. A key one will be to restrain the GOP’s conservative base from going over-the-top in the run-up to the election in lambasting Obama’s position.

When Obama came out with his “evolved” position, his aides were at pains to talk up the bravery of his declaration. And in some ways it is. But it is hard to believe that the President and his advisers refrained from making some political calculations of how this could all play out. As Steve Schmidt, a McCain strategist in 2008, has noted: Obama’s announcement has spotlighted some very tricky divisions within the GOP coalition.