March 9, 2007
Volume 35
Issue 10
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Sunday, Jan 24, 2021



Giuliani remains faithful to his pro-Gay views; fails to pander to right-wing
Giuliani remains faithful to his pro-Gay views; fails to pander to right-wing
by Lisa Keen - SGN Contributing Writer

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won a straw poll at a large national meeting of conservatives last weekend; but, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani did surprisingly well, given his well-known support of equal rights for gays and other liberal causes. That strong showing, coupled with his continued dominance of polls among Republican-leaning voters nationally and a faltering of U.S. Senator John McCain's campaign, pushes Giuliani into a clear frontrunner position for the Republican nomination.

And the good news for gay voters who might be willing to consider supporting Giuliani is that, unlike the other candidates, he continues to eschew making any but the tiniest of gestures toward the party's evangelical right-wing. That faithfulness to his own beliefs -including equal rights for gays, pro-choice on abortion, and pro-gun control-appears to be having a strong appeal to voters overall and may not be stacking up as a great a liability as some party leaders have predicted.

Romney and Giuliani presented stark contrasts during their appearances before the American Conservative Union's political action committee meeting in Washington, D.C. last weekend. Romney repeatedly boasted of fighting equal rights in marriage for same-sex couples, saying he fought "to preserve our traditional marriage" on "center stage for the liberal social agenda," Massachusetts. He characterized the state as being "sort of San Francisco-East, Nancy Pelosi style."

"I enforced a law that banned out of state same-sex couples from coming to Massachusetts to get married," said Romney, noting that he also filed actions in court, testified before a Congressional panel, and "championed our successful drive that collect a record 170,000 signatures for a citizen's ballot initiative to protect marriage."

He claimed he also fought against the "forced" departure of Catholic Charities from the state's adoption/foster care program. In fact, the organization, on its own initiative, voluntarily stopped participating in the program last year rather than abide by state law which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In contrast, Giuliani said nothing about same-sex marriage or any other gay issues. The closest he came to giving social conservatives a nod was one very vague statement about how bad conditions had become in New York City when he became mayor in 1994.

"We accepted pornography, prostitution as just commonplace, we accepted street level drug dealing as something we couldn't do anything about, and we were constantly taking the rules and the norms of society and making them more and more reduced and more and more, as Senator Moynihan would say, deviant," recalled Giuliani.

Though few among the mostly young conservatives attending the convention would likely recall it, the remark was simply recalling an anti-crime slogan Giuliani had used in running for mayor. The idea was based on an essay from the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) "Defining Deviancy Down" to express his belief that the murders, out-of-wedlock births, drug abuse, and other social problems had grown so commonplace that society hardly took notice anymore."

"I didn't believe that was the right direction," said Giuliani. "I didn't believe that was where people wanted to go and that it seemed to me that the most important civil right that we had was the right to be free to be safe to enjoy our city, our suburbs, our rural areas -so I made it large priority to reduce crime."

Historians say Moynihan did not included the growing acceptance of same-sex relations as one of those problems, and Giuliani's follow-up comment focused squarely on crime.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been considered a frontrunner for many months by pundits, did very poorly in the Conservative PAC straw poll.

The American Conservative Union's PAC took a straw poll of 1,705 people registered for the meeting to gauge their support for the various presidential candidates. They asked their question two ways. First, they asked what candidate registrants "who would be your first choice" to win the Republican nomination. Twenty-one percent said Romney, 17 percent Giuliani, 15 percent U.S. Senator Brownback (R-Kan.), 14 percent former U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), and 12 percent McCain. Then the poll asked registrants who their second choice would be. Giuliani and Gingrich were at the top with 16 percent, Romney followed at 9 percent.

When looking at which candidates were chosen for either the first or second choice, Giuliani came out on top, with 34 percent of registrants, compared to Romney and Gingrich in second with 30 percent each, Brownback with 24 percent, and McCain with 20 percent.

McCain clearly suffered from the perception that he snubbed the conservative conference by declining its invitation to speak. He had also recently turned down similar offers from other conservative organizations, too.

It hasn't been entirely clear why he's chosen not to appear in the conservative forums, especially given his recent widely publicized comments shifting his position to the right on abortion. Reversing an earlier held position, McCain last month said the landmark abortion rights Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, should be reversed.

McCain also continues to suffer barbs from the Republican party's most right-wing activists who are angry that he has not supported a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

"Speaking as a private individual," said Focus on Family leader James Dobson in a recent interview, "I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances. He is not in favor of traditional marriage and I pray that we will not get stuck with him."

At a speech in Chicago last month, McCain said he believes, "Government should protect constitutional rights, protect its citizens from aggressors, assure equal justice, and be compassionate in caring for those who cannot care for themselves." It was not a comment about same-sex marriage specifically, but its sentiment at least appears to support equal rights for everybody.

Last weekend's conservative conference gave all the Republican candidates a chance to demonstrate their willingness to lean to the far right of the political spectrum, and all who spoke did so, except Giuliani.

U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) spoke of the need for the party to maintain its commitment to "traditional values." Brownback emphasized his opposition to same-sex marriage and claimed that the acceptance of same-sex marriage in some countries is responsible for a plummet in the number of heterosexual couples getting married.

"It is a vast social experiment to redefine a fundamental institution like marriage," said Brownback, in his speech on Friday, "and the early results we're seeing from other countries&are not hopeful&.What is taking place isn't that many same-sex couples have gotten married, but the number of heterosexual couples that have gotten marriage has plummeted&and 80 percent of first born children are born out of wedlock."

Interestingly, 30 percent of registrants polled said that "protecting traditional marriage" and "protecting the life of the unborn" best reflected their "core beliefs and ideology. Among these registrants, only eight percent of this group supported Giuliani.

But a much larger segment of the conference -50 percent-said the best summation of their core beliefs and ideology was "promoting individual freedom by reducing the size and scope of government and its intrusion into the lives of its citizens." Among these attendees, Giuliani was just one point behind Romney.

Fifty-three percent of registrants identified themselves as students, and 62 percent were between the ages of 18 and 25.

While of little value in predicting how voters might vote 10 months from now in the Republican primaries, the straw poll was at least a morale booster for Romney supporters who are spoiling for a chance to be considered first-tier.

Nationwide polls of Republican-leaning voters have still not yet broken beyond the single digits for Romney; and a head-to-head poll of Giuliani versus Romney among 1,202 registered Republicans last weekend showed 70 percent preferred Giuliani, compared to 30 percent for Romney. (Giuliani bested McCain too -59 percent to 34 percent).

But a poll of party leaders -those folks who are likely to go to the 2008 party conventions and choose a nominee- showed Romney in the lead in the GOP field. That survey, by the Los Angeles Times of 133 of 165 Republican National Committee members February 13-26 (released March 3), found 20 percent for Romney, 14 percent for Giuliani, 10 percent for McCain, and 8 percent for Gingrich.

Romney has been making prominent note of his 37-year marriage and last week told a Christian Broadcasting Network audience that Giuliani supports same-sex marriage (he doesn't). But Romney hasn't yet started publicizing a video of Giuliani in full drag regalia or publicly questioned the significance of Giuliani's staying with a gay male couple during a period following his divorce. Romney has also busy fending off concerns of the party's most conservative members that he was willing to identify himself as a champion of equal rights for gays in 1994, when he ran against incumbent U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). And pundits continue to study polls showing a significant number of voters (25 percent) say they won't vote for a Mormon. When those polls study just evangelical voters, the reluctance more than doubles (53 percent).

For months now, polls have shown Giuliani and McCain at the top, followed by Gingrich (who has not yet even formed an exploratory committee), Romney, and Brownback. The good news for gays is that, regardless of how much of the Republican Party appears to be concerned with appeasing its right-wing evangelical base, the only candidates getting any traction with Republican voters are relatively supportive on equal rights for gays.

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