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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Outrage Revisited

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 11:25 PM

In the wake of disastrous 2008 election results, several GOP pollsters and campaign staffers took a hard look at polling data and realized that the party hadn’t just had a bad fall, the future was looking bleak as well. By substantial margins, young voters were identifying with the Democratic Party. In looking at rebuilding (not just its self-esteem, but the possibility of attracting 50.1 percent of the vote in future elections), a few advocated changing a few stances. Steve Schmidt, a Karl Rove protégé and senior strategist for John McCain’s presidential campaign, recommended moderating views on opposing gay rights. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks had previously been candid (from the safe haven of public television) that changing attitudes about gay rights reflected generational changes. He said that roughly two thirds of older voters opposed gay marriage, but roughly two thirds of younger voters supported it.


In a recent interview with Gambit, filmmaker Kirby Dick predicted that within the next two decades, the United States will have an openly gay candidate for president. His film Outrage looks at the current climate for gay politicians. It’s driven by the circumstance that many of the harshest opponents to gay rights happen to be gay themselves. Vehement opposition seems to provide cover for those watching out for their own careers. While the hypocrisy of a few makes headlines, the truth is that there is a large gay contingent on Capitol Hill, including politicians, staffers, lobbyists, etc. In recent decades, two major changes have shaken up the community. Beginning in the early 1980s, the AIDS crisis forced the issue of whether politicians could or would ignore a health epidemic for fear of being viewed as sympathetic to gay rights. And the rise of the Christian right in the GOP turned opposition to gay marriage and rights into an ongoing organizing issue. Change certainly doesn't come quickly or easily. The Obama administration recently backed off its promise to do away with the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that has made it very difficult for gays and lesbians serving in the military. The New Orleans Film Society and the CAC present a second screening of Outrage on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the CAC. — Will Coviello

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