Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bob The Big Bully

All you need is love? Bob Vander Plaats of the famIly leader -- note the punctuation with the I in upper case, to show that it's not about the self, it's all about Bob -- chose Valentine's Day to send Terry Branstad a bouquet of hate.

Branstad, whose crime is holding the job that Bob lusts after and is incapable of winning, lent his name to Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) Youth. He's not attending, but just the use of his name is a hint that maybe, just maybe, Terry doesn't hate Teh Gay as much as Bob thinks he should.

Oh, it's couched in BVP's usual passive aggressive religious language, sure. “Our goal at The famIly leader is to speak the truth in love.” A dozen roses, with thorns. BVP says the conference "is exchanging truth for acceptance and tolerance of harmful behavior.”

Interesting words. Acceptance and tolerance. You say that like it's a bad thing, Bob.

Decades ago, cultural pressure kept almost everyone in the closet, and it's still a powerful force. You don't even have to be gay to suffer from homophobic bullying. I got it in my youth despite my over-obvious and awkward efforts to attract female affection, and little has changed in the last 30 years. "Gay" is still used as a negative synonym and "fag" is still the strongest hate word you can throw at an adolescent male.

What BVP is explicitly saying here is that he wants to strengthen the force of bullying, to use social pressure to make people feel shame about who and what they are. A bully pulpit, indeed.

All these cultural questions -- marriage, military, the name on a stillborn death certificate -- really come down to one. Is being gay a way people are, or is it a sin? This is about your "right" to be a bigot.

Give him credit, though: Bob just comes right out and says it.

Bob Vander Plaats and his ilk have been bullying the Republican Party on this issue, to the party's own detriment. Poll after poll shows that anti-gay sentiment is linked to age. As the pre-boomer generation dies off and is replaced by Generation Gaga, homophobia increasingly becomes a losing political stance.

Terry Branstad, to some small degree, recognizes this, and his timid steps in the right direction are to be welcomed. I'd like more, sure. But I won't pester Branstad about it until I hear Barack Obama say out loud he supports marriage equality. Preferably before the election, Mr. President.

Update: BVP doubles down today.

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