Monday, June 23, 2014

Republicans Have A Problem, And They Know It

What's the matter with Wisconsin?

Plenty, if you are a culturally conservative voter in the Badger State and are paying attention.

A couple of weeks ago, Scott Bauer of The Huffington Post reported

Gov. Scott Walker has a history of forcefully opposing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, but in the wake of the state's ban on gay marriages being found unconstitutional the Republican leader said Thursday that his own views about the issue do not matter.

Walker, who is running for re-election this year and eyeing a bid for president in 2016, continued to largely duck questions about the state's ban he voted for in 2006, as hundreds of gay couples wed in the last week and polls show public attitudes shifting in favor of allowing same-sex marriages.

Walker campaigned strongly in support of the ban nine years ago.

"We must change the Wisconsin State Constitution to say that marriage is to be between one man and one woman," Walker said in November 2005 during a brief run for governor that year. "My belief in this position is even stronger today."

Walker joined with 59 percent of voters statewide to add the ban to the state constitution in 2006. Even though he pushed for it to be approved then, Walker now says his position is irrelevant.

"My position has been clear. I voted in the past. It really doesn't matter," Walker said in response to questions about the issue following a campaign event Thursday.

He also previously voted as a member of the state Assembly for a bill in 1997 to prohibit same-sex marriages and declare those conducted in other states to be invalid.

As Milwaukee County executive in 2009, Walker vetoed a measure to provide benefits to same-sex partners of county workers. And once elected governor, in 2011, he fired the state's attorney defending Wisconsin's domestic registry law. The state Supreme Court is currently weighing whether the registry violates the state ban on gay marriage.

But in May, Walker said he doesn't think it will be an issue in this year's governor's race.
"Voters don't talk to me about that," Walker said then, sidestepping questions about whether he still personally supported the ban. "They talk to me about the economy, they talk to me about their kids' schools, they talk to me about making sure we keep our finances in order."

Walker's reluctance to stick to his hard-line position may be explained by recent polls showing growing public support for same-sex marriages.

A Marquette University law school poll released in May found that 55 percent of registered Wisconsin voters favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. That was up from 44 percent in October 2012.

Walker's likely Democratic opponent in this year's race for governor, Mary Burke, supports legalizing same-sex marriage and said she voted against the 2006 constitutional ban.

Now  the man previously referred to as a "Tea Party Senator," ultra-conservative Ron Johnson is singing from the same hymn book.  Appearing on CNBC's Squawk Box, the senator stated “I’m pretty traditional guy, almost 60 years old. I think marriage is between a man and a woman. But again if the voters decide that they want gay marriage I’m not going to oppose it."

Slightly condensed Johnson:  "Don't ask me about same-sex marriage.It's toxic."    Johnson added

social issues are going to primarily be decided in the states through democratic process and that's the why (sic) it should happen.... I'll certainly go with the judgment of the American people in terms of where they want to fall on, whether it's abortion issues or gay marriage or wherever.

Don't bet on it. If Johnson were to have maintained his ardent stance against same-sex marriage, he might have to contend with his neighbor's gay daughter... or his gay friend... or perhaps even a gay member of his extended family.  But there is, sadly, no similar pressure on lawmakers opposed to reproductive freedom because the stigma lives on.  So we have a situation where on Fox News' "The Five" in early May (video below pertaining to the abortion discussed; accompanying article here),

Greg Gutfeld opened the show with Emily Letts video of her own abortion. As she explains in a Cosmo article, she did this in order to counteract the culture of stigma and guilt around abortion. Gutfeld worked in the anti-choice meme that abortion is murder when, after she said that she wasn't ready to give life, he quipped "but you can take one." In attempting to further denigrate her, he visibly smirked as he spoke about her aversion to birth control pills. He asked "was this stunt nursed from the beginning, does it matter, it's just matter." He wondered if Cosmo would provide the same coverage for childbirth and accused Cosmo of being a "villain" in "taking advantage of somebody who needs help" (Anti-choice belief that women aren't capable of making that decision about abortion because of mental impairment or coercion) He snarked that she used her fetus as a "prop" for the column and that if she wins an award "she can put it next to the sonogram to remind her it was worth it."

Andrea Tantaros, who has promoted the anti-choice lie that emergency contraception is abortion, reinforced the aforementioned anti-choice lie about women being incapable of making an informed decision about abortion. She diagnosed Letts as being "deeply disturbed." She asked if Lett's place of employment should have ordered Letts to take a psychological exam. Tantaros said "it was positively disgusting" that "she didn't seem to care about the death of this child."  Like Gutfeld, she accused Letts of having "a clear disregard for human life" in "creating this baby as a stunt." (She used the anti-choice lexicon of "child," "baby," and "human life.")

Gutfeld accused her of trying to get attention. While Juan Williams was depressed about the topic, he tried to argue Lett's point of view. Bolling, who will never have an unplanned pregnancy, was disgusted that Letts said it was a "positive experience." Bolling accused her of not caring about "life" (anti-choice word) and, in a jawdroppingly inane moment, described her act as "genocide" which, of course, refers to large scale murder of a group of people by others intent on eliminating them - although the anti-choice movement accuses black women, who have abortions, of committing genocide on African-Americans.

Dana Perino worked an anti-Obama, anti-choice lie: “So even when Americans are asked to pay for the contraception for everybody, they won’t take the pills that are free because it might cause weight gain?" (Fact Check - insurance companies are paying for the birth control as are the women who are paying for their policies with either labor and, in some cases, their money) The married, but childless, Perino "wondered" about the father. Her nest comment was straight out of the anti-choice playbook about "how, if a child is wanted, it's celebrated...but if the baby is not wanted, it's OK to destroy the baby, it's not a life." Tantaros promulgated the anti-choice belief that this might not work out for Letts, in the long run. (Anti-choice fantasy that all women regret their abortions)

There aren't many Emily Letts.  It takes much more courage, circa 2014, to admit to having an abortion than to being gay, or being in a homosexual relationship, or to be contemplating a marriage to a person of the same gender.    The Repubs are not only on the defensive, but on the run on marriage in Democratic and in competitive states.  Democrats (such as Mary Burke) ought to take a page out of the Biden-Obama 2012 playbook on marriage and do what Republicans would do in an analogous situation: Don't let up; step on the gas; turn the heat up. (Choose your favorite cliche.)  And they should put in a word for reproductive freedom. They'll feel better when the country eventually comes around.

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