Politics

Rick Perry and Hillary Clinton run into some gay marriage trouble on the trail

Rick Perry and Hillary Clinton run into some gay marriage trouble on the trail

Here’s a coincidental juxtaposition of two uncomfortable media moments from opposite sides of the 2016 presidential trail.  First up: Texas governor Rick Perry addresses the endorsement of “reparative therapy” (i.e. therapy that would assist in “escaping from the homosexual lifestyle”) in the Texas GOP platform: “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that.  I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

Mediate relates that “according to those present, the comment elicited some murmurs from the audience.”  Given that Perry was speaking at an event in San Francisco, I find that account highly plausible.

This is one unforced error piled on top of another, the first one being this stuff about “reparative therapy.”  I’ll be one of the last guys manning the ramparts to defend traditional marriage, and I’ve been highly skeptical of the tactics used to re-define it, not to mention the treatment of those who refuse to accept that re-definition.  But no part of my appreciation for marriage comes from animosity toward gay people.  I’m not skeptical of same-sex marriage because I want them to feel bad.  And I’ll put my cards on the table by saying it’s offensive to compare them to alcoholics.  Can anyone blame gay people, or their close friends, from taking umbrage at that?

If you’re going to make a serious run for President, you can’t be running around dispensing umbrage.  You’re going to engage on some serious issues that are certain to generate hard feelings among those who strongly disagree.  It has always been thus, but even more so today, now that politics is a hair shirt stretched across every inch of American life.  You don’t need to generate additional hard feelings by wandering into topics like this.  I happen to think one of those serious issues is the value of marriage between men and women… a debate that is not in any way helped by treating gay people as defectives who can be “fixed” by therapy.  I’ve spent years beating back efforts by culturally powerful gay-marriage activists to treat people who won’t get with their program as if they were defectives who can be “fixed” by therapy.

Enough of this nonsense, from everyone.  I believe in the dignity of the individual, and the importance of respecting the choices they make in life.  I think we’d be well-served by showing each other more of that respect, extending a more robust presumption of goodwill to our fellow citizens, and spending less time using the power of coercive government to beat each other into submission.  In fact, I think those three social goals are inextricably linked.

Meanwhile, Terry Gross of NPR made ten progressively more entertaining attempts to get Hillary Clinton to explain her “evolution” on the issue of gay marriage, in light of her husband’s signature of the Defense of Marriage Act, back in the day.  The actual answer, which I suspect everyone understands perfectly well, is that the Clintons have no real principles; they stuck a moistened finger in the air back in the 90s and concluded gay marriage was a loser then, but the situation is different now.  Of course, because Hillary is now a certified gay marriage supporter and has a (D) after her name, what she used to think is irrelevant, just like what Barack Obama used to think instantly ceased to matter when he announced his change of position.

What’s amusing about Clinton’s tortured response to Gross – which ultimately ended with her snapping in frustration – is that she can’t just admit reality, or even agree to the politically massaged narrative that she just plumb changed her mind on the subject… because that would mean admitting that she used to be wrong, and she can’t do that.  So we end up with a tossed word salad full of focus-grouped verbiage designed to make it sound like Hillary was right all along, and the world slowly revolved around her – while she fought heroically for so many other important issues! –  until it was finally safe to admit her true deep-seated beliefs to the benighted electorate:

I think that, as I said – just as the President has said – just because you’re a politician doesn’t mean you’re not a thinking human being. You gather information, you think through positions, you’re not one hundred percent set, thank goodness, you’re constantly re-evaluating where you stand. That is true for me. We talked earlier about Iraq, for goodness sakes.

So for me, marriage has always been a matter left to the states and in many of the conversations I and my colleagues and supporters had, I fully endorse the efforts by activists to work state-by-state. In fact, that is what is working and I think that being in the position that I was in the Senate, fighting employment discrimination which we still have some ways to go, was appropriate at that time.

As Secretary of State, I was out of domestic politics and I was certainly doing all I could on the international scene to raise the importance of the human rights of the LGBT community. And then leaving that position, I was able to very quickly announce that I was fully in support of gay marriage and that it is now continuing to proceed state-by-state. I am very hopeful that we will make progress and see even more change and acceptance. One of my big problems right now is that too many people believe they have a direct line to the divine and they never want to change their mind about anything.They’re never open about new information and they like to operate in an evidence-free zone. I think it’s good if people continue to change.

And that’s just where she started.  Nine questions later, she was spitting nails.  Pursuant to my point about generating excess umbrage, if Mrs. Clinton’s absurd candidacy wasn’t self-destructing this week (and reminding Democrats of what a horrible candidate she is) she’d end up paying a price for blowing off the entire religious community of the United States as people who “believe they have a direct line to the divine and never want to change their mind about anything.”  They’re dolts who live in an “evidence-free zone” because they don’t accept the Gospel of Hillary.

Well, it’s not like she’s anyone important – say, the CEO of Mozilla – so I guess we can just swallow her tortured story about “evolution,” give her a total pass on everything she and her husband were telling gullible voters a couple of decades ago, and let her have fun reinventing herself.  It’s funny how you only get credit for soul-searching and profound inner struggle if you come to the politically correct conclusion.

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