Not The Stupid Party: The Vicious One

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As I noted yesterday, these are wonderful days for gay people around the world. The view that gays deserve dignity and civil equality in their relationships, that they are not somehow subhuman or incapable of love and family and responsibility has gained ground everywhere. And after the last two Supreme Court cases, the far right’s reaction has been somewhat muted. They’re aware that although their arguments might still hold for them, and that they have every right to keep making them, there is not much point in reviling the self-evident joy of newly married gay couples. Who at this juncture would want to target gay couples again, to push arguments that imply their marriages are all frauds, or that they remain a predatory danger to children?

Alberto Gonzales and Ken Cuccinelli, that’s who. In a truly jaw-dropping piece today in the New York Times, the attorney-general who acquiesced in the suspension of basic rights such as habeas corpus and authorization of war crimes is nit-picking the history of court rulings on marriage to argue that bi-national gay couples have, unlike all straight couples, no inherent immigration rights.

The case he cites? One from 1982, a time when marriage equality was barely heard of, involving obvious fraud. Here’s Gonzales’ summary:

In a 1982 case, Adams v. Howerton, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that Congress intended to define a citizen’s “spouse,” in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, only as a person of the opposite sex.
The case involved a couple — Richard Adams, an American, and Anthony Sullivan, an Australian — who in 1975 obtained a marriage certificate from the clerk of Boulder County, Colo. The couple then attempted to have Mr. Sullivan classified as an immediate relative, as a route toward lawful immigration status. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (since reorganized) denied the petition. The Ninth Circuit held that even if the marriage was valid under Colorado law, the marriage nonetheless did not provide for immigration benefits.

The piece is so passive-aggressive and tediously written you might easily miss what it is doing. He’s using a case that was self-evidently fraudulent – because it was at a time when marriage equality was on the fringe of the fringe – and inferring from it that legally married couples  today – with no fraud involved at all – could be denied rights because of that ancient precedent.

Story about gay bi-national couples who are in a bind because their spouses cannot get visas under current immigration lawSCOTUS’s abolition of DOMA’s Section 3 makes this moot. So the point is obviously rhetorical, a way to raise the canard that gay bi-national gay couples are invitations to fraud in ways that straight couples aren’t. The truth is: all spousal green card applications have to go through serious USCIS investigation to prove they are genuine. And a fraudulent application for spousal green card status in 1982 has no ramifications whatever for gay bi-national couples today.

But you can see where the right is going. If they are going to have to acquiesce in living among gay people as equals, there are still a few classic tropes they can use to leverage fear against yet another minority. The image of gay spousal immigrants treated equally under the law is so repellent to them, they need to try and find some kind of legal loophole to keep bi-national gay couples in a separate and unequal place. And by fusing the immigration issue with the gay one, they get a Roger Ailes two-fer: fear of Homos as well as Hispanics, flooding into “their” nation.

One wonders: Do these people not see how vicious and callous they seem beneath the legalistic tedium? Maybe we could dismiss it as one bad lawyer and party hack waging cultural warfare if there were not also signs that the base’s hatred of the thought of gay people as their full equals is pushing the GOP further to the right.

In Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli is running for governor in part on a platform to reinstate the sodomy laws. Yes, you read that right.

Again, this seems completely insane, and then you realize that’s because the GOP base is in favor of it:

When Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II challenged a federal appeals court ruling that deemed the state’s anti-sodomy law unconstitutional, Democrats pounced, accusing the Republican of pursuing an anti-gay agenda. Now Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor is looking to turn the tables on opponent Terry McAuliffe, casting it as an issue of protecting children from predators and pushing the Democratic gubernatorial nominee to take a side.

So the marriages of gay couples are inherently more fraudulent than those of straight couples, and the law is the only thing stopping them from molesting your kids. Yep: that’s the new mainstreaming message from the GOP. And Cuccinelli is making this a centerpiece of an aggressive campaign, demanding why McAuliffe wants to allow gay people to continue recruiting and raping children. It’s a position you’d expect from Vladimir Putin, not a would-be governor in the US. His argument is that sex offenders of various sorts, including child abuse, had been prosecuted under the sodomy laws until they were struck down. But the obvious remedy to that is to introduce new laws protecting children from predators, gay or straight, and not resurrect a broad anti-sodomy statute which would in any case be unconstitutional.

But that wouldn’t ratchet up the hatred and fear of homosexuals that can help Cuccinelli reach his Christianist base and motivate them to the polls. Cuccinelli has a long brutal record of persecution of gay people. He once tried to ban gay-straight organizations from state college campuses and urged removal of employment non-discrimination laws in state government for gays. More:

In 2004, when Cuccinelli served in the state Senate, he voted against a measure that would have altered the sodomy law to no longer cover private consensual acts among adults. In 2009, he said he believed “homosexual acts are wrong and should not be accommodated in government policy.”

I kept saying that things would get worse in the GOP before things got better. I didn’t fully realize how much worse it could get – and how unlikely it now seems that it will ever get better. They are in full-on rage in their cultural retreat. Their fear deepens and deepens into terror, terror of the other, even if that “other” is a member of their own family.

(Photos: GOP candidate for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli campaigning on election day in Northern, Virginia. By Marvin Joseph/TWP/Getty. Tim Coco (left) and his husband Genesio Oliveira pose for a photo at their home in Haverhill, Mass., Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013.  Oliveira is from Brazil. By Gretchen Ertl for The Washington Post via Getty Images.)