By: Joshua Koch, Temporary President & sitting Vice President of Policy & Public Relations
Senator Rand Paul has an unenviable penchant for embarrassing Kentucky on a semi-regular basis. Having changed his tune on a number of issues since he became affiliated with the Republican Party of Kentucky as a candidate in 2009, his latest foray into the issue of marriage equality is a source of shame for the Commonwealth.
According to various news sources, Rand Paul recently visited the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition last Friday. There, among his social conservative friends, he decided to chime in on President Obama's recent shift on Marriage Equality.
“The president recently weighed in on marriage and you know he said his
views were evolving on marriage,” Paul said.
“Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any
Paul has now been criticized by equality opponents and LGBTI groups, alike. It speaks volumes that even the Republican National Committee and the Family Research Council, historic opponents of equality, cannot support his remarks publicly. This is a public relations disaster for them because it reveals the sort of bumper-sticker sloganeering they employ to attack equality and enforce unthinking conformity among their faithful followers.
Senator Paul's remarks are juvenile and beneath the dignity of his office, but they reveal a sinister undertone among the anti-equality forces marshaling their forces around the country to ban marriage equality and so-called "gay adoption" in states around the United States, most recently in North Carolina. This "quip" is just the tip of the iceberg, when considering the culture of hate and inequality as a whole.
Having grown up in an anti-gay fundamentalist family myself, I heard this sort of line all the time. The sad part is that this insulting language is part of a non-rational culture which believes that any tactic is justified in defense of the ideals of the social conservative ideal. It has a devastating impact on children raised in the movement, on the targets of the speech, and on the ability of the social conservative movement to process any issue rationally. I know this because it did the same thing to me as a teen and young adult, until I was confronted on it by LGBTI friends, who forced me to examine my own anti-equality sentiments.
Senator Paul is an embarrassment to Kentucky and his allies, but he has exposed a major problem with the social conservative extremists: This is the way they think and communicate on equality issues that we hold dear. This is the way they speak when they think no one else is listening. This is the sort of thing they say in churches and organizations to convince their followers to bully opponents. While it is easy to lose focus on this comment, it is a symptom of a "conservative" subculture which fosters and indoctrinates the next generation in xenophobia and homophobia behind the closed walls of its own cloistered gatherings.
In Kentucky, we need to learn from this, rather than just be ashamed of it. When people we know use this sort of slogan-spewing against equality around us, we need to confront it for the unthinking nonsense that it is. This sort of thing seems silly and banal, until one realizes that this is the sort of thing that replaces rational thought for a great many adherents to the social conservative "traditional" dogma because this is all they are exposed to from a young age. This is a form of intellectual abuse, now spouted blithely by a sitting US Senator.
When such empty jokes replace critical thought for such a large portion of our population, is it any wonder that they refuse to see the wisdom of equality and justice?
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