By Walter Olson. Olson is senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a frequent commentator on U.S. politics and policy.
As a spate of news coverage reminds us, openly gay politicians are an emerging force in Republican politics across America, from U.S. Congressional hopefuls Carl DeMaio (profiled here by Jamie Kirchick) and Richard Tisei (Purple Elephant interview with Tisei), to the scattering of GOP state legislators beginning to emerge in heartland states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, many affiliated with the Log Cabin Republicans.
Things are much farther advanced in the United Kingdom, where the number of openly gay Tories in Parliamentary office has now passed 10, including MSP Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, and where the Conservative Party’s best-known figures (Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson) have taken extraordinarily supportive positions on same-sex marriage and other issues. Encouraging, if more scattered, reports also come in from such countries as Canada (“fabulous blue tent“), Australia, and Ireland.
Because of the lack of English-language commonality, we hear less about the emergence of similar groupings in some other advanced democracies, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. GayLib, an organization for gay persons in the French centrist party UDI (Union of Democrats and Independents) reports at its website (in French) about a recent gathering in Berlin sponsored by the CDU-LSU (gays in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat coalition) bringing together center-right LGBT advocates from five countries: Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, and Israel. Among the topics discussed were liberalization of adoption laws (still surprisingly bad across much of Europe), human rights setbacks in Russia, and the best ways to respond to efforts of religious conservatives to stage mass mobilizations against gay marriage in France and elsewhere. The meeting produced a Joint Declaration, reproduced in English here.
Social conservatives imagine that developments like these can all be stuffed back into a bottle, but I suspect they’re wrong on that.