Richard Grenell is an openly gay Republican political strategist and media consultant. So apparently yes, you can be openly gay and still be accepted by Republicans. Sort of.
Mitt Romney is the presumed Republican presidential nominee – in case you haven’t heard – who actually hired Mr. Grenell as a spokesman for his campaign. For I believe the first time ever, I gave Mr. Romney props.
Bryan Fischer is the Director of Issues and Analysis for the American Family Association, a non-profit organization which promotes conservative, Christian values. Not too long after Mr. Romney appointed Mr. Grenell, Mr. Fischer tweeted this:
Mr. Romney of course caved to pressure from Mr. Fischer and the like and, less than a week after he was hired, Mr. Grenell resigned from the Romney campaign. This is very tragic in many ways – an openly gay citizen being denied a job because of bigotry, Mr. Romney once again caving to external pressure and flip-flopping on an issue – but I want to unpack Mr. Fischer’s tweet, so I’ll let you ruminate on the tragedy itself on your own time.
For starters, calling homosexuals gays is not okay. It’s like saying Arab with a long-A at the beginning and the emphasis on the second syllable. All it does it let everyone know pretty plainly that you hate. In Mr. Fischer’s case, we already know he hates so this isn’t news. But I’m not the kind of person to let hurtful language go unchecked so I had to get that out there before moving on.
Now we can get to Mr. Fischer’s logical flaw: If personnel is policy, then his message is drop dead.
There are two major flaws in this argument. Firstly, personnel can reflect policy, yes. But in the world of American politics, this is less true than in many other places. In politics people are often given jobs as a reward for some political assist, i.e. typically a campaign manager will become the Chief of Staff after the president is elected. I’m not saying it’s always this way and I’m not saying that the people in these jobs aren’t qualified. I’m merely pointing out that Mr. Fischer is making this logical argument in an arena in which it is perhaps least suited.
The second – larger – problem here is that Mr. Fischer is taking one aspect of Mr. Romney’s personnel choice and basing his argument upon it. You know how I know Mr. Grenell is good at his job? He’s an openly gay Republican political consultant. If there weren’t more to the man than simply being openly gay, he’d have been run out of D.C. long ago by his own party. Using this same logical flaw, I could say that, since the United States has had women as Secretaries of State for the past seven years,(1) our message to the pro-peace community is: have boobs. Taking one aspect of a person and judging and treating that person based upon that aspect is the very foundation of bigotry and hate. It’s at the root of racism. sexism, ageism, you name it. It’s stupid and mean and makes you look like an impatient, unthinking ass.
Now to the next point: I want to talk about this so-called pro-family community.
For starters, is there an anti-family community? Is there a meh, family, I could take it or leave it community? Are there people our there who really think the notion of family is hogwash? My history with my own family is complex, but I still recognize the need for family, the good that family does. Even many of the inner-city, hard-life people I’ve met and talked to – people who have no reason to be loyal to any part of a society that has forgotten them – would fight tooth and nail and hair and skin for their families.
My point here is that Mr. Fischer is setting up what’s called a false relational binary. By talking about a pro-family community, he’s implying the notion of an anti-family community. By aligning an openly gay politician against the pro-family community, Mr. Fischer creates this:
heterosexuals = pro-family
homosexuals = anti-family
This, in my experience, simply is not true. Part of the difficulty of homosexual life is the desire to be accepted – and the fear of being rejected – by one’s own family. That simply would not be the case if most LGBT citizens did not value family as an institution. This relational binary Mr. Fischer has created is a lie and does not at all reflect the reality of American life in the early 21st century. Furthermore, Mr. Fischer is presuming to know what the LGBT community values and needs, while very clearly himself hating that very community. You cannot speak for people you hate, Mr. Fischer. You cannot attempt to transmit their values when you’ve made no honest attempt to understand them. This is something a friend of mine taught me is called straightspeak, and you, sir, are guilty of it.
I have one more point to make, and that is this: every single thing that has happened in human history – every single thing – has been the result of heterosexual pairing. Everything from Hitler and Stalin to Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Everything from Crocs and Reese Witherspoon to Legos and Naomi Watts. Everything from me to you, Mr. Fischer, results from millennia of heterosexual pairings and – for the most part – upbringing. Frankly, it’s not going all that well. There are some glorious achievements; there are some horrifying atrocities. There is absolutely no reason – none whatsoever – to believe that a homosexual family would create anything better or anything worse than eons of heterosexual families have.
Even from the standpoint of statistical probability, your argument is invalid.
I would suggest, Mr. Fischer, that you do some real research before you open your mouth again, but I know you have a job to do and I wouldn’t ask you to risk your and your family’s well-being. I would ask you, however, to remember that even people like Mr. Grenell have family, a family that, despite having a homosexual among them, they are still family, the institution you purportedly value and for which you purportedly speak.
- With the exception of the one day William J. Burns served on the day of President Obama’s inauguration.