By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Opponents of gay rights legislation — same-sex marriage bills in the states and hate crimes legislation on Capitol Hill — have shifted strategies, a sure sign that things aren’t going well for them. Gay marriage is now law in five states, at least two more states are seriously considering it, and opinion polls show rising support for gay marriage nationally. As for the hate crimes legislation, it has passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate soon.
In response, the Republican party, which has long opposed gay marriage on moral grounds, may be swinging to a more pragmatic reason for opposing it. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele suggested over the weekend that Republicans could reach a broader base of support by retooling gay marriage as an economic issue that could hurt small businesses.
“Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for,” Steele told at a Georgia state convention. “So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.”
As for hate crimes, foes had been labeling it the “thought crimes” bill that could be used to prosecute clergy if they preached against homosexuality and then a crime was committed by someone who heard the admonition. But more recently, they have been calling it the “Pedophile Protection Act,” contending that it offers special protections for pedophiles and other sexual offenders.
Faith2Action is coordinating a campaign that allows opponents, for $10.95, to send overnight letters to each senator. Bill opponents’ contention: “majority Democrats in the House refused to approve an amendment specifying that pedophiles would not be protected under the proposal that provides special protections for homosexuals,” according to the conservative news site, WorldNetDaily.