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03/12/2009

Steele talking, Steele ticking off the far-right

by Jeremy Hooper

You know how most social conservatives reject comparisons between race and sexuality, and even go so far as to rile up African-Americans with the idea that gays are "hijacking the civil rights movement"? And you know how some conservative black preachers are fond of saying things like, Michael-Steele"don't compare your sin with my skin"? Yea, well those folks are about to be really pissed. That's because nascent RNC Chair Michael Steele has given an interview with GQ magazine, where he not only suggests that homosexuality is an intrinsic part of one's being, but also makes his own willful comparison between skin color and sexual orientation:

GQ: Do you think homosexuality is a choice?
RNC Chairman Michael Steele:
Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.” It’s like saying, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.”

GQ: So your feeling would be that people are born one way or another.
Steele: I mean, I think that’s the prevailing view at this point, and I know that there’s some out there who think that you can absolutely make that choice. And maybe some people have. I don’t know, I can’t say. Until we can give a definitive answer one way or the other, I think we should respect that.
*FULL INTERVIEW: The Reconstructionist [GQ]
(H/t: Towleroad)

Also, while referencing gay priests, Steele tells GQ that "it's in your nature." And in reference to his marriage views, he seemingly takes a dig at the "pro-family" camp in saying, "I’m not gonna jump up and down and beat people upside the head about it, and tell gays that they’re wrong for wanting to aspire to that, and all of that craziness." So essentially, all of those anti-gay, pro-"ex-gay" activists like Tony Perkins who have expressed wariness over Steele's selection are surely about to rage with the ferocity of a thousand Falwells. Sit back and grab some popcorn!

But don't go and think that Michael "civil unions would be crazy" Steele has become an all-out gay rights champion. He still throws around terms like "sanctity of marriage" and rejects giving gays that word (using that old "states rights" nugget). But we'll have to say, as major skeptics of Mr. Steele who have been quite critical of those who've tried to paint him as a moderate on gay issues, we are pleasantly surprised -- shocked, even -- by these latest revelations! His views may flip tomorrow and again look like a flop. But for now, we're a bit stunned.

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Your thoughts

I don't know... For me this makes Steele even worse. He says we don't have a choice, but he also says it's crazy for us to have any legal protections for our relationships. Eh, at least this will lead to some very nice infighting.

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Mar 12, 2009 8:42:13 AM

Well for me, it certainly makes him seem hypocritical, shortsighted, and other things in terms of policy. But it's hard for me to see this as making him look worse. Because even though he's still standing against our rights rather than helping us all get past this silly non-issue, he's in many ways doing something more damaging to the "pro-family" movement. Through his quasi-rejections of both the "ex-gay" movement and the idea that skin color and sexual orientation are concepts non-deserving of comparison, he's seriously weakening two of the anti-gay side's favorite stances. Stances that keep the public confused about our issues. Stances that keep anti-gay politics alive.

If more Republicans take stands against the far-right's rhetoric, then it really won't matter where they personally stand in terms of policy. If they drop the hurtful tone that has kept us down, the public will even more fully come around to our side. And when the public comes around and anti-gay politics are no longer palatable, no poll-reading politician alive will want to touch this form of discrimination.

But that all being said, I'm of course VERY cautious about seeing this as any sort of sign that a new trend is rising up within the RNC's ranks. Especially with that platform.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 12, 2009 8:55:13 AM

I'd say this depends on whether he can stand up to them. He's already backed down on Limbaugh and his pro-choice remarks.

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Mar 12, 2009 11:31:37 AM

And I'm sure the log-cabin Republicans will be all over this

Posted by: Ron | Mar 12, 2009 12:06:16 PM

All of those comments are true but still, it's amusing to watch these folks fight amongst themselves.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Mar 12, 2009 12:35:53 PM

OK... so let me see if I can reconcile all of this.

Steele thinks that gay people are born gay (or come to be gay naturally and not by choice). And he thinks that it is reasonable that they fight for equality. He's even willing to accept that some states agree with gay folk.

He just isn't convinced that gay couples should be granted the same rights as everyone else. I mean, that's crazy!!

While I'm not overjoyed about the second part, this total position is, I think, an improvement and does show some movement on the part of the Republican Party. Let's hope that it isn't an anomoly or that the second half drowns out the first.

Posted by: Timothy | Mar 12, 2009 1:49:07 PM

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