Why I’m quitting the Republican party
[First his home state passed one of the nation’s most restrictive laws outlawing same-sex marriage and many domestic-partner benefits. Then the president announced his support for writing discrimination into the U.S. Constitution. This Ohio gay activist has had enough and this week relinquished his duties as a longtime member of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County.]
By John Farina
An Advocate.com exclusive posted February 27, 2004
It’s finally come to this: I can’t be a Republican anymore.
This was an extremely difficult decision for me to reach. I’ve been a Republican all my life. But February 24 at 10:45 a.m. Eastern time, the president changed things for me.
For the past 20 years, even before I was registered to vote, I have worked within the Republican Party. I’ve been a candidate, held leadership positions in the party, and given generously of my time and money. I have had many arguments with my gay friends defending the GOP and certain elected Republicans. I have had many friends and mentors who have all been valuable parts of my life. It’s tough to walk away from something that I have been so much a part of. But knowing my president wants to officially sanction discrimination against me, I cannot in good conscience remain a Republican.
It was bad enough that my Republican friends in the Ohio legislature, people who know me (and know better) and whom I’ve vigorously supported, voted for a divisive, unnecessary, and discriminatory so-called defense of marriage bill—despite my best lobbying efforts. I now have the president, the leader of the party and the free world, telling me we must sanction this type of discrimination in the Constitution of the United States of America. Quite frankly, I’m sick over it. It is an insult to me as a lifelong Republican and it does nothing to strengthen marriage. It is an obviously political move that will do nothing but divide the nation even further. So much for Mr. Bush being a uniter. I can think of no other time in our country’s history when the president has sought to so directly limit the rights of a group of Americans. This is not a true conservative value; it is that of the radical right.
I realize that many Americans may not support or even understand same-sex marriage, and that’s fine with me. But amending the Constitution for this purpose is morally wrong. I think most Americans will find this disturbing as well, and it will ultimately cost Bush votes. I know I’ll do my part to work against the president and any elected official who ultimately supports this attack on civil rights.
The party has been overtaken, both nationally and in Ohio, by hard-right social conservatives that seem hell-bent on moving the country in reverse on civil rights, seemingly at the expense of more important issues such as fiscal responsibility. At one time in history, the Republican Party was a leader in civil rights—that Republican Party no longer exists. I always felt it was important to remain active and fight such blatant attempts at discrimination, but that effort is obviously futile.
I will still count many Republican as friends, and the response I have received from many of them shows they understand this very difficult, personal decision. In fact, one elected Republican official told me the GOP has left me. On Tuesday, March 2, I will pick up a Democratic ballot in the Ohio primary (and vote for John Edwards) and begin a new chapter of political activism in my life.
As a gay youth in Ohio, the fact that even THE DIEHARD REBUBLICANS in my state are irked by the direction the radical right has taken the country confirms my belief that we all HAVE TO DO WHATEVER WE CAN to get the Johns into the White House.