Mitt Romney, who doesn't want gays marrying but who once promised to do more to advance gay rights than Ted Kennedy, staggers along, the unpopular-but-still-presumptive nominee. Ron Paul, who thinks gay people should be allowed to marry and legally buy heroin thinks we should be able to serve in the military that he won't use to bomb Iran, surges into first place in Iowa and pulls into second in New Hampshire. Gingrich is in free fall, despite having taken a pledge to "defend traditional marriage," while the most passionate anti-gay haters in the race—the thee rightwing stooges: Bachmann (who thinks gays should marry straights because that worked out so well for her), Perry (who doesn't think gays should serve in the armed forces), and Santorum (who thinks gays are destroying marriage for the rest of us)—are stuck in a three-way tie for last place. And then there are these headlines from the last 24 hours:
That teenager? A fearless 14-year-old bi girl who—no surprise here—beat Perry in their brief debate. Those LGBT advocates who confronted Bachmann in a small town? Mostly straight, it seems, and one of 'em was a feisty, quotable old broad who just wasn't having Bachmann's shit. And who can forget Romney getting his ass handed to him by that gay Vietnam vet in a New Hampshire diner?
Republican politicians used to feel they could attack LGBT people with impunity. The queers wouldn't confront 'em because we didn't want to get outed at work or to our folks back home and the straights folks who supported gay rights didn't think the issue of LGBT equality was important enough to get in a politician's face.
Times have changed. It used to be pro-gay politicians who paid a political price. Now it's the haters and nutjobs who are paying the price. There's not much upside to bashing gays these days—even on the right—and there's a definite downside.