Imagine you were living in a state like Arkansas, where the supreme court recently overturned an onerous and sweeping policy which banned gay foster parents. Calls were quickly made to write this ban into formal law, via the state legislature. You wonder what your elected officials might say in response to this law. This is what one of their campaigns said:.
"He was raised by a single parent and remembers the way he was treated by other children because he wasn't raised in a traditional two-parent home," Wright said. "Considering the controversy this issue has given way to, it is hard to believe a child going to foster care from the home of a meth addict is equipped or in a place to understand and cope with the ensuing controversy about his or her foster situation."
Can you guess who that's from? The Republican?
Nope. It's the campaign of Mike Beebe, the Democratic nominee for governor.
It's not much of a surprise to see a Democrat in a socially conservative state pander for votes (and one could argue when a large majority of the public support a law, then going along with them isn't pandering - I would disagree, but I realize other people would agree with that viewpoint). I AM surprised by such a hamfisted response when a simple "_____ will support this legislation" would have sufficed. Is his spokesperson saying no children should be in a one-parent home, since Beebe had such a hard time in one? Would Beebe support laws to ban single parent homes? Does Beebe agree with his spokesperson's implication that the biggest worry the child of meth-ravaged parents will have is that his new foster parent is gay? Does Beebe agree with his spokesperson's implication that major decisions should be made based on avoiding controversy? For many years there were many people who said children should never be raised in the home of someone who does not share their race or their religious background. I'm sure this caused pain to some children who were taunted on the playground. Would they have been better off in foster care, waiting for the ideal matchup?
If we lived in a world where perfect, Adam and Eve-occupied homes were ready and waiting for all the children no one else seems to want, then I might understand this quaking fear of a one-parent or homo-tainted home. Since we don't live anywhere near that world, this is just another example of people who do variations on "think of the children" not bothering to actualy think of the children.
Beebe has awkwardly flipped and flopped on gay issues before, accepting and then returning a donation from the Stonewall Democrats. He's also contorted himself on exactly what he would do regarding this legislation.
He got asked in this meeting about gay foster parents, and, depending on the version, either he said he would resist a ban or he Clintonized that he would resist a ban so long as the resistance was constitutional.
Then the state Supreme Court took any abstraction away by overturning a state administrative ban on gay foster parents. Beebe first responded with a moderate course, saying we must honor the court. The next day, after Hutchinson and Mike Huckabee gay-bashed, he thought better of his moderation and added that he, too, would support legislation enacting such a ban.
This type of verbal gymnastics from some Democrats only gives the impression that they think voters are stupid. In Georgia, Cathy Cox lost her primary for governor in part because of her twisting herself into a pretzel over the state's ban on benefits for gay couples.
I'm sure that some people will say it would be "selfish" of gay or progressive voters to not vote for Beebe based on this one issue, and instead vote for a third party candidate or not vote at all. I may have said so myself at one point. That's up to the voters in Arkansas. But when someone handles such a "controversial" issue so awkwardly, I have to wonder what other issues they may not be up to handling.
Thankfully Arkansas will soon have their first openly gay elected official, state senator-elect Kathy Webb. Maybe she can sit down and have a friendly conversation with some in her party - that is if they can handle the controversy.