by Dan Savage
on Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 2:42 PM
Or Meghan McCain? Okay, okay: some people give a shit. But I'm having a hard time squeezing one out the IGBPish video that Cindy made—along with a bunch of celebs—for the NOH8 Campaign. Here is is:
And here are Cindy's lines: "Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future.... They can't serve our country openly." And after someone else says, "What's worse, these laws that legislate discrimination teach bullies that what they're doing is acceptable," Cindy says, "Our government treats the LGBT community like second-class citizens, why shouldn't they?"
John McCain is leading the filibuster against the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" "repeal" legislation in the Senate (it's not an actual repeal, but we'll leave that for another time). Today, Cindy McCain joined a number of celebrities in a video about gay youth suicide and bullying. Mrs. McCain's part of the video condemned DADT and then accused our government of sending bullies a message that what they do is okay. The woman basically accused her husband of sharing the blame for gay kids killing themselves. I'm astonished. And impressed as hell.
I'm neither astonished nor particularly impressed. We've heard this song before: the spouses and children of prominent GOP elected officials intimate or flat-out state that they are to the left of their husbands and/or fathers on social issues. George H. W. Bush's wife, First Lady Barbara Bush, was pro-choice. George W. Bush's wife, First Lady Laura Bush, was pro-choice. But somehow the opinions of Barbara and Laura Bush didn't impact the policies pursued by their husbands' administrations. Have you met Justices Alito, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia?
I'm not casting doubt on the sincerity of Barbara or Laura or Cindy's positions on abortion and gay rights. I'm casting doubt on the importance of their positions.
Maybe John McCain is furious that his wife and daughter have become such vocal supporters of gay rights—they're vocal now, yes, but they kept their mouths shut at the Republican National Convention in 2008—and Thanksgiving will a stress fest/feast at whichever one of the McCain estates the family chooses to gather. (If things get really tense during dinner the McCains may have to retire to separate estates after pie.) But I suspect that he could give a shit. And again, for what it's worth, I welcome Cindy McCain's contribution and I agree with Cindy—or whoever scripted NOH8's video—when she says that discrimination against LGBT people by the federal government encourages anti-gay bullying.
It's just that—like Barbara and Laura Bush's comments about abortion—I don't think Cindy McCain's position on anti-gay bullying is really worth much.
And the cynic in me can't help but see this as a political ploy. When the wives—the powerless wives—of GOP elected officials stake out liberal positions on social issues, it makes the GOP look more moderate on social issues than it actually is. The GOP is moving to the right on social issues, not the left, whatever the GOP wives think of them men who do their hair. Right now you can be pro-gay and married to a prominent Republican politician. But you can't be pro-gay and a prominent Republican politician. And until that changes...
We should welcome Cindy McCain's contribution to the effort. But we shouldn't be fooled by it.
Does anyone know what Mrs. Franken's position is on DADT? I'll betcha she's in favor of its repeal. But her husband's position—Senator Franken's position—is much more important, because he's the one who's in a position to make a difference.