When people tried to list the names of the increasingly small number of reasonable and consistent Republicans, William Weld was close to the top of the list. He rode to success in 1990 because he was more liberal than his Democratic opponent for governor. He got a hostile reception at his party's own convention in 1996. He nearly beat Senator John Kerry that same year, in a state that had not elected a Republican senator since 1972. He was nominated for ambassadorship by President Clinton, and was blocked by his own party. Weld was almost a folk hero to many Democrats, particularly gays and lesbians, since Weld had unflinchingly supported us at a time when few governors would make even a token effort to do so, and after leaving office, had supported our right to marriage. He even presided over the marriage of his college roommate.
Apparently his message to us now is , to use a bad pun, "folk you":
But Mr. Weld said yesterday that he supported gay marriage only in Massachusetts, because the legal decision correctly interpreted the state's Constitution. He said he supported civil unions - and not gay marriage - for New York and elsewhere, which he also indicated to The New York Post on Wednesday.
It's funny. When he supported equal marriage rights in 2003 and 2004, I don't remember him saying only in Massachusetts. Now he says he supports them only there because of that state's Constitution. I realize Massachusetts is one of our founding states and has a very prized Constitution, but am I supposed to believe that NO other state constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage?
I wish Weld had just said what is likely the truth - "when I thought I was washed up, I supported gays. Now Karl Rove needs me and he told me it's cool to hate gays."
t The rebuttal to that could be, "Weld doesn't have to support gay marriage to support gay rights." I might agree with that, if he hadn't just dropped out of a gay charity event he had agreed to a year ago. An event held by his next-door neighbor and good friend. Clearly Weld now has other priorities, and silly things like gay rights are unimportant. Most likely, Weld decided that he could still claim moderacy on abortion and guns, yet run to the right of Democratic nominee Eliot Spitzer, who supports gay marriage. Expect to hear lots of attacks from the NYGOP that Spitzer is "out of touch" with the "mainstream" on equal marriage rights, even though some polls show a majority of New Yorkers support marriage for gays. The cynical and sleazy idea is probably that New Yorkers may not be right-wingers, but if you gay-bait them, they will vote for you in droves. One wonders what this type of campaign could do to increase the already surging rates of gay-bashing in New York City.
If Weld cannot even be bothered to show up at a fundraiser held by one of his good friends, how can he be counted on to support any of the basic rights of gays and lesbians when he is put into office? He has already flip-flopped on one major issue. Weld may think this will help decrease the odds of a strong social conservative running against him on the Conservative Party line, but most likely, he will still not garner that support due to his position on abortion rights. This could have been the first race where gay marriage was not an issue. Both leading candidates could have supported this semblance of dignity for gay and lesbian New Yorkers. This could have been the kind of civil debate that Weld supposedly had with Kerry in their '96 campaign. Instead, Weld has sent a message to moderate and liberal supporters of gay rights that he will sell them out on a dime as long as he thinks it is politically advantageous. He has shown just how much sway the anti-gay lobby has in the Republican Party. He has sold out, once and for all. And this betrayal may push many other so-called moderates into becoming anti-gay. Clearly the GOP thinks that gays are still the biggest scapegoat for the 2006 elections.
There are a lot of Democrats who are probably laughing and going "I told you so!" They have said over and over that you cannot trust or work with a Republican, no matter how much he claims to be on your side. That's why I feel so betrayed. I don't want to depend on one party for my livelihood. I don't want to put all my time and my money, my faith, in a position where it can be taken for granted. And that is what Democrats often do with gays. They take our money and our vote and they tell us how ashamed they are of us. How we make them losers, and if we would shut up, a rainbow will fly out of their backsides. In reality, due to how much control the GOP now has over our government and our media, gays have to work with BOTH parties if we can in order to keep the rights we currently have. There are many gays and many Democrats who harshly reject that concept, and Bill Weld just gave them a big reason why.
How does Weld explain this new position, or the hurt many of his former colleagues and friends seem to feel? He doesn't seem to want to give an answer. To them or to the media. Maybe he is ashamed of himself. Ashamed that he is now groveling for scraps from those who booed him and backstabbed him all through the 90's.
This is one of the saddest and most pathetic displays I have ever seen in politics. I hope New York Democrats take all those John Kerry flip-flopper ads, paste Weld's face over them, and help him lose in a landslide. And from now on I am going to just ignore anything I see regarding Weld. He can go ask Christie Todd Whitman how much good all her pandering did her.
I guess Jesse Helms was right about a few things, and one of them was you, William Weld. Gays are used to having knives put in their hearts time and time again by your party. Thank you for showing just how much more excruciating the blade feels when its plunged into our back.
Please donate to Eliot Spitzer, if you can.