When Will They Be Over?

Maybe now, after Florida’s been counted, they’ll stop. I mean, of course, the Republican primary debates. They seem to take place nearly every night, with their dwindling cast of hopefuls, the often inane questions, the embarrassing school-boy spats among the candidates. Not to mention what sometimes comes out of their mouths.

In case you think I’ve lost my mind, let’s be clear. It’s not that. I’m making a point of watching them all. I’ve got a pretty good idea where they stand on enough issues. But the debates seem ever-present on the many TV screens that face the cardio exercise machines at the gym I go to. A line of them right in my line of sight. Multiple Gingriches, proliferating Romneys and Pauls, cascading images of Senator Sanctorumonious. And like witnessing a terrible wreck, it’s almost impossible to tear my eyes away. I try – really – but it just draws me back.

But here’s the thing. Depressing and angering as watching – and listening to – these contests can be, something is curiously missing; the rights of LGBT people. Not that the candidates’ positions on LGBT issues are anything short of awful, yet raising all the usual LGBT-inspired shibboleths doesn’t appear so central to their game-plans. Remember the rush to embrace the Federal Marriage Amendment not so long ago?

 We’re simply not seeing anything quite like that this time around. Sure, assorted candidate surrogates are beating up on us, and, when LGBT issues come up, the candidates are reliably bad. Obviously, they still think there’s mileage to be gotten out of raising the frightening specter of equality. (It’s also true that Rick Perry tried some unabashed bashing with an ad that bizarrely linked gays in the military with children not being allowed to celebrate Christmas. But that didn’t seem to take him anywhere except back to the long-suffering people of Texas.)

But it says something important that the candidates themselves aren’t the ones doing most of the gay-bashing, and they’re not seeking headlines with anti-LGBT rants. And there is something good about that, because you know they would be putting homophobia front and center if they thought it would sell.

But it’s harder to think that it will sell – or, at the least, sell as big as it did in elections past – when polls show majority support for same-sex marriage nationwide. When a giant state like New York embraces marriage equality. When the repeal of DADT is an unqualified success. When they can’t point to a single instance of harm done to anyone by the thousands of legal same-sex marriages that have taken place in six states and the District of Columbia. And it’s going to keep getting harder for them to make political hay out of our community – because all the facts are on our side.

And that would be good news indeed. In the meantime, maybe I’ll try riding my bike more until the primaries are over.