Wyoming Gay Rights: Conservative State Takes Small Steps Forward

“I think people are beginning to realize that this is just not a big deal. The sky doesn’t fall,” said Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, who signed on as a co-sponsor on the anti-discrimination bill. He said recent decisions on gay rights in the courts, the military and other states are bleeding into the state’s consciousness.

In this year’s session, for the first time in years, no one sponsored “defense of marriage” legislation seeking to prevent the state from recognizing same-sex unions performed elsewhere.

via Wyoming Gay Rights: Conservative State Takes Small Steps Forward. Huffington Post Gay Voices.

Barry_Goldwater_2

The late Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) famously supported gay rights.

This may surprise people who are only familiar with today’s conservative movement, but old line conservatives get it. The late Barry Goldwater, the Republicans’ 1964 presidential candidate, was known as “Mr. Conservative” but he had little to do with a conservative movement that he saw as co-opted by the religious right.

[In 1989, he] stated that the Republican party had been taken over by a “bunch of kooks.” In a 1994 interview with the Washington Post the retired senator said, “When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.” (Conservpedia)

He had no use for Jerry Falwell, either. He famously said, “Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”

As to gay issues, Goldwater claimed that gay rights just made good conservative common sense. When the military’s ban on gay and lesbian service members was under fire in the early ’90s, Goldwater said flatout, “Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar.”  He also said, “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”

My dad was what I liked to refer to as a “Goldwater wingnut.” When I was a little kid, I’m sure we had the only Volkswagen bus with Goldwater ’64 bumper stickers. Later in life, Dad got “religion” and became a Clinton Democrat and we stopped arguing about politics and started agreeing on issues. It was weird! HA!

Today, I wish Dad was still around to knock around these issues with me. I think we’d both agree that gay rights, women’s rights, all civil rights, in fact, are real conservative values. Like Goldwater — and perhaps, Wyoming’s own famously conservative thinker Alan Simpson — Dad and I would likely agree that today’s Republican party has no roots in the historic Republican party.

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