For a moment those who sat with me at the Pajamas TV booth at the Republican convention must have thought I was crazy. Soon after reading an e-mail from a left-leaning lesbian friend with whom I almost always lock horns on matters political, I had to share the news — with anyone who would listen. This outspoken woman had informed me that for the first time in “30 years” she’d be voting Republican, in large measure because of her enthusiasm for Sarah Palin.
She has a brother in Alaska where they’re impressed with their Republican governor. “Love that woman,” my friend gushed.
My friend is not the only gay person enthusiastic about John McCain’s running mate. Nearly all the readers of my blog are excited about her nomination. Some have even been pushing her as potential vice-presidential pick since the summer of 2007.
Shortly after John McCain announced his choice, a reader from northwest Ohio wrote that the “overwhelming consensus” at a local gay bar “was extremely positive.” Gay and lesbian readers across the country agree.
To be sure, those who were already disposed to vote for Obama weren’t pleased with the pick, citing her membership in a church which promotes a Focus on the Family conference “dealing with the so-called curing of homosexuality” as proof that she’s no friend of gays.
But most of my readers were enthusiastic about Sarah Palin. To be sure, a couple McCain supporters expressed some unease about the Alaska governor, concerned that we may learn something which might upset the initial positive impression they have.
However, those gay people who know her best, men and women who live in the Land of the Midnight Sun, are delighted about Palin’s nomination. Eric DeLand, an openly gay man who lives in the Kenai area, said even Democrats and independents like her: “They may not agree with her on everything, but they agree with enough; they’re happy with McCain’s decision to pick Sarah.”
Erich says the governor knows him — and knows he’s gay. That hasn’t changed her treatment of him. She’s always been respectful. Indeed, he offers, “I’ve never seen her mistreat anyone for being gay or for whatever.”
Alaskans, he points out, are pretty libertarian: “You live your life and I live mine; we’ll all just get along.”
It isn’t just gay Alaskans who are happy with Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket. Even some Hillary Democrats who had been pulling for McCain since their candidate lost are pleased, with one e-mailing me to say that the Republican ticket is one he is “enthusiastic about and I’m honestly surprised by that, having never entertained the thought of voting Republican before (with the exception of Schwarzenegger).” He had been hoping for some time that McCain would pick her.
Gay Republicans who gathered in St. Paul for the Republican convention were happy with the pick. Some were just relieved that McCain hadn’t tapped former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Others were delighted at having a new face from outside our nation’s capital on the ticket.
Calling Palin an “inclusive Republican,” Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon believes Palin will benefit the GOP ticket by “appealing to independent and young voters.”
The pick has even helped make gay conservatives skeptical about John McCain more comfortable with their party’s nominee. Kevin who blogs at Queer Conservative, said it “showed me that he will listen, that he will change his mind if he thinks it’s the right decision. … He won’t be stubborn like Bush even in the face of evidence he’s wrong.”
Like many other Republicans, gay Republicans cite Palin’s reform record and mainstream conservative views as the basis of their support. We like that she took on the corrupt Republican establishment in Alaska and hope she can help John McCain do something similar in Washington, DC. And we like her plucky nature. Sarah Palin is no ordinary politician. We were wowed by her speech at the Republican Convention.
To be sure, we have some concerns about her stands on gay issues. She supported her state’s 1998 constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, barring state recognition of same-sex nuptials.
She’s also said that “she’s not out to judge anyone and has good friends who are gay,” confirming Eric’s impressions. We do wish she would chastise her church, the Wasilla Bible Church, for promoting the notion that homosexuality is “curable.” I fear, alas, that is not going to happen.
While she is solid on most issues of concern to us as Republicans, she is not perfect on gay issues. But most gay Republicans, like most Republicans, understand that the solutions to social problems do not come from the state. And we know we need reform in Washington, the kind of reform Sarah Palin brought to Juneau.
While John McCain’s “selection of the Alaska governor has energized the GOP’s socially conservative wing,” it has also inspired a lot of gay and lesbian Republicans. It has brought together left-leaning lesbians and Hillary-supporting gay men concerned about Barack Obama’s qualifications with gay conservatives unhappy with McCain’s frequent departures from party orthodoxy.
We see in Sarah Palin John McCain’s real commitment to reform. That is why, despite her mixed record on gay issues, we are excited by her nomination. And I’m delighted that, for this season at least, I can stand on the same side of the political fence with a left-leaning friend with whom I often lock horns.
No wonder I was so excited when I read her e-mail last week.