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03/02/2010

Whitman's sampler: Yes on gay families, no on the easiest way to legally protect the same

by Jeremy Hooper

Meg-WhitmanIf you've ever wondered why there are so many inauthenticities on eBay, perhaps you should look no further than the company's former head:

Asked to reconcile her stance against same-sex marriage with her willingness to allow gays and lesbians to adopt children, [CA Republican gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman] said she believes the term "marriage" should apply only to the union of a man and a woman. Still, she's in favor of granting equal rights to gay people through civil unions and domestic partnerships.

And she approves letting gays adopt because "many kids need a great home."

Meg Whitman holds forth on guns, gays and government [Mercury News]

So kids can totally have gay parents, they just have to grow up knowing those parents are unfit for the same civil equality that heterosexuals enjoy? Well that's kind of like eBaying someone a vintage Life game, but keeping the spinner for yourself. Both false fulfillments deserve negative feedback.

But fortunately, Meg has taught us one thing: That we all better be careful before we click "buy it now." Hopefully California voters will exercise the same caution.

**Meanwhile: Jerry Brown announces he’s running to be California governor [LGBT POV]

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Your thoughts

I'm not a Mel supporter. She is less supportive of our community than is, say, Jerry Brown.

But... three years ago we would have been naming someone with her views as grand marshall of the pride parade. Two years ago we would have been putting them on our bumper and calling them "fierce advocate".

Yet now I've seen (not here) some sites go so far as to call her "anti-gay" and "homophobic". I can't help but wonder whether some of the animosity comes from having an R after her name rather than a D.

I'm not saying that we should extol the virtues of Mel or endorse her. But wouldn't it be great if every Republican (heck, some of the Democrats too) shared her views? So I'm not exactly sure why our community has decided that she's an enemy.

Posted by: Timothy | Mar 2, 2010 11:24:32 AM

TK: Like you, I'm troubled when I see people jump too quickly to the anti-gay/homophobic/bigot/etc. labels. For me it's always about the positions -- I don't tend to pretend to know (or care, for that matter) about the person's heart or motivation.

But that being said: Yes, some might have applauded this a few years ago (although hopefully while still noting that it was completely inadequate, even then). Things have certainly changed. But I really don't think that the current frustration with Meg is so much a partisan thing as it is a lay of the land sort of thing. Many (if not most) people think that a California Republican could very easily be pro-equality in every regard. So the fact that she's not seems like a pointed slap in the face. Perhaps not fair, since you're right that in another state and/or time, this kind of support would earn praise. But that would be my guess.

Plus there's the Prop 8 factor. Right now, any CA politician who comes down on the anti-marriage side seems to be aligning with the raw wound that is Prop 8. The focus and the ire are still understandably heightened, esp. with the trial.

Like you, I plan to simply contrast her views with Brown.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 2, 2010 12:04:05 PM

Timothy, affirmatively supporting Prop 8 clearly separates Whiteman from the "fierce defender." At least in my mind. The political reality that a majority voters can be hijacked into the hate-the-queers camp, is a far cry from being a leader of the hate-the-queers camp. And, Whitman certainly doesn't need to raise money from the more staid gay bashers, so her obvious hope is that the a majority still find prop 8 to be fashionable, and she's pandering to them.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Mar 2, 2010 12:32:50 PM

Jeremy,

I think that perhaps that those who think that a California Republican could be pro-equality in every regard may misunderstand CA Republican politics a bit.

While the state is moderately liberal, it is not homogeneous (just as NY is not). It is a basically two distinct populaces lumped together (inland and coastal).

I think folks see Arnold's social liberalism and assume that this is indicative of Republicans in the state. But CA Repubs have traditionally been more similar to NY Repubs than MA Repubs. Redistricting has created a jerrymandered system in which mostly only the far right and the far left can win assembly or state senate seats.

And while there are some very supportive Republicans in the state, 82% of CA Republicans voted for Prop 8. A candidate that is pro-equality in every regard would have to come from the 18% of the party that voted NO.

That being said, in this election you only have those who are on the moderate end of the Party running for Gov. Remember, "I support civil unions and adoption rights" is a moderate position.

Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner are both fiscal republicans who have never been the enemy of our community. Meg spoke (once, I think) favorably about Prop 8 and unless I'm mistaken Poizner did also and since that time have answered questions about the subject. But neither of them seem particularly fired up.

Unfortunately, Whitman is being portrayed as (in Dick's words) "a leader of the hate-the-queers camp." And pandering.

And I don't get it. It is a totally bogus representation of her position.

I disagree with Meg on this issue. But she is not a hater and she is not anti-gay and she is not trying to rally the anti-gays. Or not as best as I can tell.

I'm troubled that somehow our community's media has created an enemy out of someone who has never ever done anything to indicate that she would behave as one.

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Mar 2, 2010 3:03:59 PM

TK: Yeah, my suggestion about how people view CA Republicans was one explanation for why people are coming down so hard on Whitman. Whether true or not.

I do, however, think you have to fairly consider Dick's point about pandering. That is a valid note.

The weird thing for me is that before she came into politics, I always thought Meg was an out lesbian. I was actually shocked when I started to learn more about her politics and her sexuality.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 2, 2010 3:47:06 PM

I don't think the pandering claim holds up.

In order to be pandering, Whitman would have to be either saying things that she doesn't believe, or playing up an issue in order to draw attention.

We have no reason whatsoever to think that Whitman's position is anything other than what she believes.

And if you were trying to win favor with anti-gays, "I support civil unions and adoption rights" is not the way to do it in California. Remember, we are the home of Lou Sheldon and Dr. Dobson got his start here. If you wanted to pander to anti-gays here, you'd have to talk about evil and children and the sort.

And I'm sure she made no anti-gay friends when she said (prior to the court decision) that the folks who married before Prop 8 should continue to be recognized as married.

If we are thinking that she's trying to pander to the middle of the roads who voted "yes", then she'd have to be making this a campaign issue. Yet she never seems to talk about it unless she's asked.

So I suppose she could be pandering, but if so I must be missing it. Maybe we'll see more of that later.

As for her look, oh yeah it says "I'll bring the couscous to the flannel-wearers potluck". But maybe she just thwarts stereotypes. I dunno.

And I can see why her husband is kinda out of the public eye. Who wants to be known as Mrs. Harsh? :)

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Mar 2, 2010 5:33:33 PM

"... our community's media has created an enemy out of someone who has never ever done anything to indicate that she would behave as one."

I, personally, would rather go with the devil we know, than the one who has never cast a public vote / veto. It might turn out that she is more socially liberal than the typical Prop H8 supporter... but we have zero ways of determining that other than her stated support for prop 8. Maybe if she spends a couple of years in one of the state houses, and has a demonstrable voting record then she might be able to shake this wicked-witch persona? That she is arrogant enough to try to buy a Lordship, though, to me is another strike against her.

And look at the Governator. We knew nothing about him either. As much as you call him "socially liberal," he vetoed marriage equality twice.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Mar 2, 2010 5:41:05 PM

And, Timothy, if she is not pandering, then we don't have to wait to make a decision. "Pandering" was giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Mar 2, 2010 6:30:30 PM

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