“Gay Bashing Not Effective Campaign Tactic,” says the post-election Equality Virginia press release, included below. It remains to be seen whether the lesson will sink in this time, but it’s becoming clear that voters in Virginia no longer reliably respond to attempts to divide us with the use of childish, anti-gay slurs. They are unamused by these attempts to distract them from serious issues.**
A historical note: A little more than four years ago, Jonathan and I attended a meeting of the Loudoun County Republican Committee that had been publicly advertised as a forum for school board candidates. Instead, a young Patrick Henry College student named Eve Marie Barner introduced a resolution demanding that the Supreme Court reverse its decision in Lawrence v Texas, and “return to the sound precedent” of permitting law enforcement officers to force their way into private bedrooms and arrest people for having consensual sex. That meeting, which inspired the founding of Equality Loudoun, soon deteriorated into an embarrassing debacle in which angry people debated 1) whether it would be possible to support Ms. Barner’s resolution without being labeled grotesque religious extremists, and 2) whether that mattered. Those who believe that the Republican Party’s proper role is to enforce religious prejudice via public policy – known as the “Black Brigade” – won that argument, and this faction has retained its power in spite of the detested Dick Black’s loss to David Poisson in 2005.
In the wake of this year’s Republican losses, the argument continues. What went wrong this time? Is openly being the Sex Police Party the problem, or is it the solution? Weeping over their statewide losses, the anti-gay Some Families Foundation chose Door Number Two:
Republicans lost control of the state Senate, losing four key seats, and leaving the Democrats in power 21 to 19. Considering that the hostility of Senate Republican leadership to the pro-family [sic] agenda suppressed enthusiasm for nearly any Republican running, its really surprising the results weren’t worse.
Not everyone is this out of touch with reality. Following its crushing losses in this election and attempted violation of state party rules, it is very likely that the Loudoun County Republican Committee will be disbanded and reconstituted with new leadership. The obviously needed reordering of priorities along more sensible lines will finally make it possible for Republican Equality Loudoun members and supporters to participate in their local party. We strongly encourage our Republican friends to get involved at the very beginning of this process, and help rebuild and guide the new LCRC back to the principles of individual liberty and limited government. We will all benefit from an environment in which both political parties can engage in real policy debate, and not have one of them off in the weeds nattering about “protecting marriage” or whatever the wedge issue of the moment is.
EV PAC Welcomes Several New Fair-Minded Senators and Delegates to Virginia General Assembly
For the second election cycle in a row, voters in different parts of Virginia rejected gay- bashing as a campaign tactic and elected fair-minded candidates who expressed support for basic human rights for all Virginians ““ helping to elect a new fair-minded majority in the Virginia Senate. Of the 53 candidates that Equality Virginia PAC supported in 2007, 45 were elected, or 85%.
“Equality Virginia is pleased to welcome back Senator Mark Herring and Delegates Chuck Caputo and David Poisson who were among the candidates we supported strongly in 2005 and again this year,” said Dyana Mason, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “We are particularly pleased that EV PAC supported candidate George Barker will be replacing Jay O’Brien, who was one of the only candidates in this cycle to use overtly anti-gay themes in his campaign. Barker’s election, together with the election of EV PAC supported Senate candidates John Miller (D Newport News) and Ralph Northam (D Norfolk), shows unequivocally that you can get elected in Virginia as a candidate who supports ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and extending health benefits equally to all families.”
In addition to an anti-gay mailer by Jay O’Brien’s campaign, there were a few other instances of anti-gay campaigning. In early 2007, Del. David Poisson was the apparent target of an anti-gay question in a “push poll” apparently paid for by candidate Lynn Chapman, and Senate candidate Tricia Stall made headlines just a few days before the election attacking the support Senator-elect John Miller had received from the gay community. Jill Holtzman-Vogel’s swipe at Karen Schultz for using a consulting firm that touted its success in helping to elect an openly gay candidate did little to help her in an unexpectedly close contest in a strongly Republican Senate District. That district had been held by retiring Senator Russell Potts, who had been instrumental in killing legislation to ban gay/straight alliances as Chair of the Senate Education and Health Committee.
“Virginia is making real strides forward, and this should be a message to all candidates, regardless of party, that anti-gay campaign rhetoric is ineffective and is not a strategy for victory in any district in the state,” said David C. Lampo, chair of the EV PAC Advisory Committee and Vice Chair of the Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia.
“We are pleased that Equality Virginia PAC was able to make a difference again this election cycle, and we intend to continue playing a role in electing fair-minded candidates in the future,” concluded Jay Squires, chair of the board of Equality Virginia. “We are looking forward to working with a new fair-minded majority in the Senate that crosses party lines, and with a growing number of fair-minded members in the House of Delegates.”