What does it mean when progressives celebrate a victory in large part won by GOP-supporting hedge fund managers, Tea Party funders and corporate conglomerates?
Many people are celebrating what seems on the surface a huge win for gay rights, with the passage of a same-sex marriage bill in New York State last week, by a Republican-controlled state senate to boot. This marks a real sea change for LGBT equality in the US, and therefore a major win not only for LGBT people, but also because this has been a major cause for progressives.
But now that the pride parade is literally over, progressives should be asking themselves about the potential long-term impacts of this “win.”
What does it mean when so-called progressives celebrate a victory in large part won by GOP-supporting hedge fund managers, Tea Party funders and corporate conglomerates—the oft-spoken enemies of progressive causes? Furthermore, this new strategy could be the testing ground for Republicans to peel a gay base and donors away from the Democrats while keeping their Christian conservative base.
It sounds far-fetched, but let’s consider why this may be an unforeseen challenge.
The New York Times reported in May that a few Republican fundraisers were helping to raise over $1 million to protect the seats of a handful of Republican lawmakers who would otherwise be swayed to vote for the marriage equality bill Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo had called for, already approved by the Democratic Assembly.
These men all had their own personal reasons for pushing the bill—some said they have gay family members who deserve the protections that marriage offers. But is that alone worth the political risk? There may be a set of Republicans who know that using the “protecting the sanctity of marriage” excuse or other kinds of gay-baiting has lost much of its political power with the conservative base. It has also become clearer that the GOP is not monolithic on this issue, as many notables like former first lady Laura Bush, Cindy McCain and Dick Cheney have all come out in support of same-sex marriage in the last few years.