In a political mash-up that transcends irony, the United States Supreme Court convenes to hear two cases challenging the constitutionality of bans on same-sex marriage — the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 — just as scions of staunchly conservative Republicans, the folks who brought you the bans, emerge from that deep and dark closet.
People have been lining up for days in front of the Supreme Court to get in to witness the hearings; seats are limited but tickets are free.
Meantime, I’d pay to see a lineup of all the children and grandchildren of right-wingers — especially those directly responsible for legally shoving their definitions of “family” down all our throats — all come out publicly in a public square.
I bet there are a shit-ton of ’em.
And that is usually the way it is, isn’t it?
In the realm of theoretical homosexuality — wretchedly gay for argument’s sake, not benignly gay in real time — usually the loudest, most hateful proponents of equal rights and legal recognition of marriages, unions and partnerships turn out to be the ones who are latently homosexual, closeted homosexuals or have been ignoring the fag nag.
The fag nag is that sneaking, nagging suspicion that a child is gay but it’s ignored by the parents because for so long they’ve lived out their deeply personal beliefs so garishly publicly — even as political platforms — that they cannot bear the thought of shattering the perfectly manufactured image some of them have actually used on campaign literature and in campaign commercials.
Then that family and their straight children morph into doppelgangers for what counts as normal for the rest of us.
There’s a new normal in town.
And they’re related to conservative Republicans.
Will Portman, the Yale junior and son of Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the man who would be vice president had Mitt Romney picked him and hadn’t imploded, recently came out publicly, prompting his conservative father to reverse his stance on same-sex marriage equality.
In an op-ed column in the Yale Daily News, Will registers relief when his father was not chosen as Romney’s running mate. Rob Portman had disclosed his son’s homosexuality to Romney’s camp during the vetting process and said if he were picked, he’d be open about it on the campaign trail.
That had to have split Romney’s Mormon wig.
It is a strange political landscape fraught with catch-22’s when personal revelations in the name of honesty and transparency get you passed over as No. 2 to the most powerful man in the world. Stranger still is the dance Rob Portman must’ve done to try and prove he could still walk the conservative line of rhetoric-based gay-bashing and moral disapproval while simultaneously proving he was yet a conservative through-and-through.
It probably looked like the infamous dance moves of Julia Louis Dreyfus as Elaine Benes on Seinfeld: legs akimbo kicking spastically, thumbs pointing in all compass points and head jerking wildly.
It makes me tired just thinking about it.
Of course, coming out for everyone involved is about proof: Proof that, yep, I am gay and (somewhat) proud and, for family, friends and co-workers, proof all camps can really handle the glare of the light outside the closet.
So for arch-conservative Republican parents and grandparents to not only publicly claim, love, respect and admire the newly outed, but to also reverse themselves on the laws and public pronouncements they heretofore had proudly made to actually block the progress of social and cultural order is, well ... it is huge.
It is nothing short of a Christmas miracle, like the birth of a Christ child who looks like all of us and who’ll grow up to love and walk with each of us regardless of whom we have sex with and whether or not we can extend partnership benefits to lovers who may happen to have the same genitalia as us.
And the conservative Republican parents and grandparents of these out gay children have been slowly participating on the miracle for years now, but to far less mainstream journalistic fanfare than when they were supporting bans on same-sex marriage.
Mary Cheney is the lesbian daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. She’s married to her partner and often showed up at public events — like a 9/11 memorial — with her partner in tow. When John Edwards acknowledged Mary’s relationship with all the fake, schmarmy admiration of a politician during a 2004 vice presidential debate with Cheney, Cheney stood mute, never mumbling a word in response.
However, the stone-faced man who vehemently backed his boss’s plans to establish a constitutional ban on gay marriage changed his mind and his stance in 2009, and in early 2010 Cheney publicly declared it was “time to reconsider” lifting the ban on gays openly serving in the U.S. military.
And as far back as the 1990s (remember them?) former Arizona senator and former Republican presidential candidate Barry “Mr. Conservative” Goldwater outed himself in favor of gay rights to the horror of his party after his grandson, Ty Ross Goldwater, came out as gay.
It is rare that Republicans deserve or should get a reprieve in our generalized disdain for them and most of what they seem to universally represent; however, a flaw of Mount Rushmore proportions shows itself when progressive mainstream media does not report with depth and nuance conservative reversals of this nature.
We’re so focused on what happens inside Congress, we’re numb to the shifts in human nature occurring outside its halls and within the ranks of the family.
For it is in the family, whether “traditional” by traditional definitions or non-traditional by necessity, where minds get changed, hearts become softened, hardened views are eroded by blood and love comes in a size that fits all sexualities.
If we actually did put family first — as arch-conservative Republicans still claim to do in the name of keeping families looking only like their own — we really could have a gay old time.
CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON : letter s @citybeat.com