With each passing day, gay bashing as a political issue is becoming more and more of a loser. It used to be that the mere raising of the specter of gay equality was enough to coax a flood of cash from conservative wallets, but as more and more families discover they have one⎯or several⎯gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender members, the “stigma” continues to fade.
The only surprise is that American social attitudes have come so far so fast on the issue. Ultimately, gay rights will no longer be considered suitable for discussion in the political arena, in the same way we would never discuss equal rights for diabetics, or for redheads. It is a mark of national shame that gay equality was politicized in the first place.
When those whom we would normally call “conservative,” like Dick Cheney, come out in favor of equal rights for gays, the divide between “social” and “libertarian” conservative becomes even more stark. One only need listen to the verbal contortions of Michele Bachmann to realize how impossible it is to square the idea of freedom from government intrusion with a blanket ban on marriage for a large proportion of our population (unless one truly believes America ought to be a Christian theocracy).
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has personal family reasons for breaking with conservative orthodoxy on the subject of LGBT equality. The "why" doesn’t matter; the important thing is that for her, common sense has trumped ideology, and we can hope that her courageous act may be the beginning of a torrent of defections.
My guess is she will not lose her seat over this, nor should she.
Author's note: Since I can't print this upside-down, I'm placing it at the end: In case you read the cartoon and were left saying, "Double-barreled surnames? WHUH?" I was talking about Debbie Wasserman Schultz.