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Posts Tagged ‘pro-gay’

We need a Choice, not an Echo

The title for this post is the title of a book conservative author and media personality, Phyllis Schlafly, self published in her battle over the Equal Rights Amendment. Back then, she was worried that government regulation would rob women of their choice to stay home as housewives and mothers. It is an equally forceful title today. But one that has taken on new meaning. 

I just got back from Lincoln Days, the Republican Party’s convention here in Missouri. And one of the more memorable moments for me this weekend was when a woman raised her hand and said, “Republicans need to be proud to be Republicans again.” “Like Phyllis Schlafly said, we need a choice, not an echo.” The guest speaker at this luncheon was Sharon Day, who is co-chair of the Republican National Party. She talked at length about what the party is doing to recruit candidates and to open up the Party to women and minorities. Seated just down the dais from her was the Hon. Catherine Hanaway, a former U.S. Attorney and the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House. If elected, she will be Missouri’s first female Governor.

It’s shaping up to be an interesting battle. Her likely opponent is a Democrat who used to be a Republican. He left over the party’s litmus tests and hard lines. Hanaway has opened up her coalition to include suburban Republicans as well as conservatives outstate.  A moderate in temperament and approach, Hanaway has consistently been a team player for the Republicans. And as a prosecutor, she has put child pornographers away and shed a spotlight on Missouri’s newest black eye, human trafficking. 

I drove down to Springfield on I-44, on a stretch of highway named after Gov. Mel Carnahan, a Democrat who died in a tragic plane crash in the midst of a heated Senate race against Republican John Ashcroft. I took note of that sign as I drove on while the audio version of the book, Faith and Politics, by retired Republican Sen. John C. Danforth, played on the cd player in my car. I was listening for inspiration because I wasn’t sure what I would find in Springfield. I tried to commit certain phrases to memory like, “faith is not politics,” and “reconciliation”.

After blogging as a relatively radical moderate Republican woman for the last two and half years, I needed to psych myself up because I wasn’t sure what kind of reception I might get or what reconciliation might look like. I needed to know it would be okay to say I am pro-choice, pro-gay and pro-stem cell in a state that saw some of its top scientists leave over laws that restricted medical research or that is currently debating whether to recognize the marriages of gay couples who were legally wed in other states. 

The wheel is just beginning to turn, even if Missouri Republicans are only in the most initial stages of change, at least in terms of their messaging. Sure, there is still the occasional recalcitrant who gets up and declares the Republican Party, “The Pro-Life Party.” My goodness. But overall, if there was an echo, it is that the national GOP is in the midst of some earnest, and some might say overdue, self-improvement. Yes, there are many women who are pro-life in that party, including Hanaway. But, there seems to be a growing acknowledgement that it may be time to acknowledge there are lots of other kinds of Republicans out there. Continuing to draw battle lines over women’s issues is just slowing the party down from its’ other work.

Voters will have a choice that they haven’t had in the past. Do they take the long view and get on board with the party that shut down the federal government over its’ opposition to Obamacare? Do they help usher in more female candidates and hope that these women can be more willing and flexible negotiators in reconciling the thorniest issues of our day? Will Republicans on the fringes put their differences aside over single issues, especially social issues, so they can focus on job creation?  If there was a message echoing from Springfield this weeked, it is that the Missouri Republicans have realized choosing to be more inclusive is the right choice. 

ENDA lot of Discrimination

What an interesting day it has been for someone who considers herself pro-business and pro-gay. For someone who opposed Obamacare because it is a mandate but also because of its unsustainable long term cost, not just to business, but to the Federal government.

How do you reconcile being a pro-gay Republican on a day when historic legislation is winding its way through Congress outlawing discrimination, not just against gays but also bi-sexuals and transgenders? Federal law already bans discrimination based on race and sex. But what about sexuality? This is as bedroom as bedroom politics gets. It’s also a great test of whether social issues are still clouding our judgement when it comes to issues that are ultimately economic. 

Speaker John Boehner has announced he cannot support The Employment Non Discriminaton Act because it will lead to frivolous lawsuits. The United States Chamber of Commerce has taken a neutral position, which to the LGBT community, is tantamount to a victory.  Do we need federal laws to ban workplace discrimination against the LGBT community when 90% of companies already have discrimination policies in place? Yes, we do. It’s a question of doing the right thing. And as far as arguments that it could lead to more charges of workplace discrimination, it might be useful to consider that there were only 100,000 charges of workplace discrimination based on gender or racial bias brought before the EEOC last year. 

I say this is a case, once again, of business trumping politics and a reason that we need more business minded candidates to run for office. Businesses are looking for quality employees to help grow our economy. And protections like these are designed to make employees comfortable. This law is akin to hanging a welcome sign on the front of your house. The law would essentially say, “Yes, LGBT employees, it is safe to work here.” Remember we’re talking about WORKING. 

One interesting eventuality of this law’s passage is that it will force people to consider the laws in their own states. Because while polls overwhelmingly show a majority of Americans support this kind of legal protection, 29 states including Missouri, have avoided writing workplace protections in to their state statutes. According to FreedomtoWork.com, nearly three-quarters of American voters support protecting people from workplace discrimination. It might not surprise you that 81 percent of Democrats support ENDA but it could surprise you that 66 percent of Republican voters polled, did too. 

I’ve blogged in the past about the fact that I think the question of equal pay for equal work is a no-brainer. But, the fact is Phyllis Schlafly was right about whether it falls under the scope of federal legislation. It falls squarely inside the realm of a negotiable item between an individual employee and her employer. Because the fact is many modern women would rather trade time with children or ailing relatives for equal pay.

This law is different, though. This law is simply asking for protection from being fired because you are something other than straight. And that seems pretty straightforward to me.