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Fight Back: Civil Unions
February 21, 2003
By Joseph Arrieta

Painfully watching Colin Powell shred his credibility with pathetic alarmism and manipulation, seeing missile emplacements around the Washington monument, and hearing stories about a panicked citizen enveloping his house in plastic, a Democrat could fairly have this wish:

It would be nice to have presidential candidate in 2004 who never advocated any of this insanity for a moment, let alone a related form of psychosis in actually voting for it in Congress. There is, in fact, only one Democratic candidate who presently passes that test: Howard Dean.

Dean was recently labeled an "ultraliberal" on a conservative talking points sheet. Why? He signed a civil union bill into law that allows gay couples almost all of the rights of conventional, heterosexual married citizens.

It is a forgone conclusion that Dean and the Democratic party will take a very heavy hit for advocating gay rights in 2004. Homosexual bigotry is very strong, especially in the Christian fundamentalist constituency, and the Republicans will exploit it thunderously. As we've so recently seen, there is no level too low for them to stoop in sexual political tactics.

What is also a forgone conclusion - no longer acceptable - is that the Democrats just have to sit there and take it. Even if the candidate is not Dean it's imperative that the Democrats raise a serious offensive here. It's not possible to even remotely eliminate the bigotry, but it is possible to blunt its negative political effects. Easily possible.

Civil union benefits are very common in big mainstream American business, let alone countless municipalities and counties. The sky hasn't fallen because Costco and Barnes & Noble have civil union benefits. Slam home the fact that all these conservative CEOs at blue chip companies endorse civil union benefits with web posts, press releases, print commentary, television ads, even watcher web sites that track the offending Republican manipulators.

Where are the resources for this? May the Holy Father forgive those who cannot see - it's right there in the homosexual constituency. There's an incredibly rich resource of determined, relentless, extremely talented gay humans that would giddily work for the Democrats if the party truly fought for civil unions.

Mary Cheney is gay. There must be hundreds of other gay children of Republican politicians. Outing is not acceptable, but if they're openly homosexual the hypocrisy of their parentís political party is fair game. Use the tactic forcefully, identifying all the members of the Republican party with gay children.

The bigotry won't abate in the least. But the ugliness and hypocrisy of manipulating homophobia by the Republicans will be laid bare for the moderates and the independents to starkly see. Itís not pretty. If done well enough the Republicans might even learn to shut up about it and accept the inevitable.

What is not remotely presently appreciated in the Democratic party community are the fighting skills of this current generation of Republicans. They love it, live for it, and, indeed, itís the only thing theyíre truly good at. Look at the vicious tactics used against Clinton, McCain, Gore, and Jeffords.

Senator Grassly, sharp critic of the lunatic Bush 2003 tax cut, was recently invited in for a 30 minute chat with Bush and Rove, and voila, he is suddenly a big cheerleader for the Presidentís imbecilic fiscal policy. Grassly got fanged, knew whom he was dealing with, and caved. Sad to see a US Senator so easily cowed like that.

Mark Crispin Miller hypothesized that since the end of the Cold War the violent, combative element of the Republican party no longer had communism to fight, so it turned its fury against the domestic Democratic opposition. It's an extremely intriguing idea, and the Republican behavior of election 2000 supports it.

In any event, simply hoping for the traits of Reason and Tolerance in the minds of the American voter and maybe getting some good press will not work, in any sense, in the area of Democratic civil union endorsement. Those days are long gone indeed - the press corps of the 21st century are a chattering, sycophantic pack of hyenas for the most part, snarling for any rating scrap they can get.

Only a very good offense will work against an opposition and press corps like that. The Democrats simply cannot continue to take heavy hits from homosexual bigotry. There is no choice in the matter - it's time to actively fight for Democratic party principles on every front or face four more years.

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