The RPV doesn’t dare speak badly of gay rights.

The Republican Party of Virginia sent out an e-mail to supporters today, complaining about President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

Kagan, famously, joined in an amicus brief in a lawsuit fighting the Solomon Amendment, the law that prohibits federal funding to universities that bar military recruiters from their campus. Kagan did so on behalf of Harvard Law School, where she was dean, because the school prohibits any organization from recruiting on campus that discriminates. The military, of course, prohibits gays from serving, ergo they weren’t allowed on campus. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the military, and that was that.

Here’s the odd thing: the RPV doesn’t mention the nut of this, the fact that it’s about “don’t ask, don’t tell.” They claim that Kagan prohibited recruiters to send the message that “somehow the armed forces are not a valid career, and that military service is something to be shunned.” The dispute wasn’t about the military, it was about discrimination against gays. The same RPV that spearheaded the marriage amendment just four years ago now can’t even bring itself to mention to its own supporters that Kagan was standing up for gay rights. In 2006, that would have been worse than barring recruiters. In 2010—when both Laura Bush and Dick Cheney have come out in favor of gay marriage—the RPV won’t even acknowledge the reason behind the dispute in question, because they know that their membership is increasingly A-OK with homosexuality.

The times, they are a-changin’.

The original text of the letter follows.


Yesterday 10 members of the General Assembly, who also proudly served in our nation’s armed forces, sent a letter to Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb asking them if they share Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s belief that military recruiters should be kicked off the campuses of our Colleges and Universities.

You see, President Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court signed onto an amicus brief when she served a [sic] Dean of Harvard Law School that said the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces were not permitted on campus to try and recruit our nation’s best and brightest.

I want to ask you to join these General Assembly veterans and sign the letter to Senators Warner and Webb by clicking here or going to

Virginia is home to some of the nation’s best colleges and universities and it also home to hundreds of thousands of active duty and retired military personnel, as well as their families. We should all be deeply concerned about the judicial philosophy of a candidate for the highest court in our land who appears to hold the men and women of our military in such low regard.

Blocking recruiters from campus suggests that somehow the armed forces are not a valid career, and that military service is something to be shunned. The men and women of our armed forces put their lives on the line every day to protect our freedom. Sacrifice for country is not something to be hidden away or blocked. Indeed, it should be celebrated. Additionally, shouldn’t our armed forces always try to recruit our best and brightest to ensure that the freedoms that so many have fought and died to defend, remain intact?

After you sign the letter to our U.S. Senators please forward this email to your friends and family and ask them to sign as well. The people of Virginia deserve to know if Senators Warner and Webb share Elena Kagan’s beliefs about the military or if they disagree with President Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thank you in advance for signing the letter to Senators Warner and Webb at



P.S. Once you have signed the letter at please forward it to all of your friends and ask them to sign as well. The people of Virginia deserve to know if Senators Warner and Webb share President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee’s believe that our military should be kicked off the campuses of our colleges and universities.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

22 replies on “The RPV doesn’t dare speak badly of gay rights.”

  1. Are you sure they’re being crafty? Maybe “Pat” is simply unaware of the issue. Maybe somebody told Pat about the exclusion of the recruiters, and Pat went mental and penned the Letter.

    Yes, it would require a very high level of cluelessness and knee-jerkyness. But never ascribe to malice, my father used to say, that which can be explained by mere idiocy.

  2. But never ascribe to malice, my father used to say, that which can be explained by mere idiocy.

    FWIW, I don’t think it’s malice, per se. I think it’s just realistic on the part of the RPV. Their membership has changed—or, at least, they believe that their membership has changed—and they’re just trying to shift the narrative to suit them.

    “they know that their membership is increasingly A-OK with homosexuality.”

    Not that there’s any evidence of that.

    Sure there is. The whole of society has become steadily OK with homosexuality. Year after year, poll after poll, the acceptance rate goes up: Gallup (“Conservatives Shift in Favor of Openly Gay Service Members: Weekly churchgoers also show double-digit increase in support from 2004”), Pew Research (“A clear majority of Americans (57%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them many of the same rights as married couples…[which] continue[s] a significant long-term trend since the question was first asked in Pew Research Center surveys in 2003, when support for civil unions stood at 45%”), and another Gallup poll (check out the trend lines in that last graph).

    And, of course, there are more and more examples of prominent Republicans saying that they’ve got no problem with homosexuality or same-sex marriage. (Exhibit A: Dick Cheney. Exhibit B: Laura Bush.)

    So I figure that either the Republican Party is getting smaller—and, true, it is—or more Republicans are seeing that somebody else’s marriage has absolutely no effect on their own, and that what two consenting adults care to do in the privacy of their own bedroom is nobody’s business but their own. Since some of these polls show pretty clearly that Republicans viewpoints are changing—especially that first Gallup poll—that would seem to settle that.

  3. Yes… it was an excellent idea to make it harder for our Armed Forces to recruit our best and brighest during a time of conflict…. brillant!!!!!

  4. Does James Young ever tire of of getting completely shamed by evidence, links, data, poll numbers, etc, here? The James Young Method is to drop a turd in the discussion, which usually gets completely dismantled, and never show up again. Mmmm, I wonder why he would make himself scarce when opportunity for a meaty debate arises?

  5. James Young, as it’s very apparent, lives a life that is mostly shaped by his imagination. Sure, he can be a nice guy from time to time, but mostly he’s just acting like a crazy old dude you’re better off humoring than confronting, lest you have to make clear that he’s completely off his rocker.

  6. It’s interesting that whenever I read or hear people lamenting the “military’s” policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the complainer curiously omits the fact that DADT is the creation of Congress, signed into law by a Democrat. An inconvenient truth, no doubt.

  7. I’m sure, Publius, it’s for the same reason that we all slam Clinton for DOMA. But for him, we’d all be treating human beings decently, right?


    Also, when are you going to show us your papers?

  8. MB, when you get a chance, see if you can find someone to explain Terry v. Ohio to you.

  9. Please enlighten me, then, about the application of Terry to random contractor laborers working on Waldo’s house.

    And then please show us your papers. You don’t sound very American to me.

  10. So just to make sure I’m scoring the game right out here in the bleachers: the RPV is no longer in the business of trumpeting the limitation of gay rights at every turn. Totally misrepresenting historical and current events while ascribing erroneous motivations to the actors in said events remains the first three chapters in their playbook.


  11. Holy cow I just read the rest of the comments — Pubes, are you seriously suggesting that Waldo has the right to perform Terry stops?

    As a follow-up: how do your neighbors react when you try to issue them traffic citations?

  12. Ummmm, no, Sam. That’s not what I said, or even suggested.

    MB brought up the tired and incredibly weak “show me your papers” claim, presumably referring to the Arizona law. Anyone who makes such an argument needs to brush up on their Fourth Amendment law (as well as take a few minutes to actually read the Arizona law, instead of blindly accepting what they read at Huffington Post or TPM). I never said that any random bloke can make a Terry stop.

  13. Publius, you’re the one who was inquiring of Waldo whether he had checked the immigration status of the laborers working on his house. And Terry stops.

    Which, of course, makes absolutely no sense if you’ve got even the thinnest understanding of the law. So the fair presumption is that you’re just asking for papers because it suits you. Which is funny, coming from someone who hides behind a pseudonym (which I understand – I’d be rather embarrassed to have my name attached to some of the things you’ve said.). But since you’ve surely got enough integrity to submit to your own standard (that is, it suits the asker), I’d like to see your papers. Hurry up now.

  14. Did it ever occur to you, Waldo, that this might have a lot more to do with our dear Senators rather than the beliefs of the RPV constituency? I think all of us are well aware that an appeal to our two Democratic Senators on the basis of gay rights would be utterly ineffectual, while an appeal on the basis of support of the military has a great deal of bite, given both political parties are falling over themselves ( to support the military.

    Looking at this letter, it seems to be designed to have a chance of actually, you know, making a difference in how our Senators think about Kagan rather than simply firing up the base with gay stuff. Haven’t you been decrying that kind of thing anyway?

  15. I forgot to mention, though it goes without saying, that this line of argument will have a great deal more sway with Webb, given his background and politics.

  16. The contents of the letter to RPV supporters need not be the same as the letter to the senators. It is the normal way of things for a letter to the faithful to be a great deal more strident than the form letter that the faithful are encouraged to send to senators.

  17. I proposed that maybe the RPV was just being straightforward and aiming for the most efficacious issue in order to halt Kagan. Your best response is, “Usually politicians practice bait and switch.”? C’mon. Occam’s Razor has sliced this post to bits on multiple points. You’re out on a limb.

    Yes, you’ve demonstrated via your statistics (I trust; I haven’t perused your links) that attitudes are changing about homosexual legal rights/privileges. However, to make the assumption that the RPV is now scared to make gay rights an issue is to make a number of unsupportable leaps. When you’ve analyzed several years worth of RPV emails by issues invoked and noted clear statistical changes, then you’d have a case. (You do a great job at that kind of thing.)

    However, in the following hypothetical, just because:
    1. I talk about gun rights today
    2. Support for the rights of the unborn is declining
    –doesn’t mean that I am scared to talk pro-life.

    It just doesn’t logically follow.

    #1 must be replaced by proving a negative: that I don’t talk about pro-life stuff anymore. That can’t be done from a single email. You must analyze all emails produced by the RPV.

  18. That would make sense, if the RPV’s story didn’t omit a detail that every other story about this includes. A story about the oil gushing into the Gulf is routine. A story about it that doesn’t mention that it’s BP’s well has an absence that is noteworthy. A story about Ken Cuccinelli’s subpoena (for lack of a better word) of UVA is common. A story about it that fails to mention that he is a Republican who believes that global climate change is an enormous hoax has an absence that is noteworthy.

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously addressed this in The Silver Blaze in Sherlock Holmes, when the detective finds a clue in the form of a dog that didn’t bark:

    “Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

    “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

    “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

    “That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

  19. Oh, I agree with your last post 100%. It *is* indeed noteworthy that they omitted the part about gays. But you find it noteworthy for the wrong reasons. I find it noteworthy because the RPV is being clever and focusing on issues that will resonate with our Senators. (If I approached you to win your support on an issue, I would not mention things that would go contrary to your belief on issues! “Waldo, let’s support a tax break for kids! It disproportionally helps the poorest!” not “Waldo, let’s support a tax break for kids! It supports traditional, big homeschooling families!”)

    Please note that I would be unhappy if the RPV was trying to paper over traditional marriage and as a conservative who has much to be unhappy with the Republican party of late, I would be happy to point out yet another instance in which they are abandoning their base and running to the center. So if they were doing that on traditional marriage, I would be the first to squawk. However, I just don’t see that flowing from the evidence.

    I think your post could have legitimately asked the question, “Does this letter not mentioning gay marriage presage a pattern of the RPV avoiding the issue because of the changing attitudes and beliefs of the constituency?” However, unless you have other evidence that you haven’t discussed, I don’t think you can legitimately answer that question with a statement of: “The RPV doesn’t dare speak badly of gay rights.”

  20. I see the problem—I have drawn a conclusion based on the facts at hands and my own opinion, and my conclusion is different than the one that you have drawn. That is, this is an opinion piece, and you disagree with my opinion. I believe that the RPV is deliberately avoiding the topic of gay rights, and I believe that they are doing so because they think (rightly or wrongly) that their base is no longer unanimous in their opposition to gay rights. You believe that they’re doing so for another reason, or at least that they could be. And, sure, they could be. But I think that, given the evidence at hand, it’s because they know it’s an issue that is eroding, that their “gay == evil” stance isn’t working out for them. You think one thing, I think another, and that’s fine, because in time we’ll know who’s right. :)

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