James Richardson, who served as the Republican National Committee’s online communication manager during the 2008 election cycle, has a new job to add to his growing resume. Mississippi Governor and likely-presidential candidate Haley Barbour has recruited Richardson to serve as a communications advisor for his Political Action Committee.
Richardson, who has blogged for the right-leaning Red State blog and whose influence inside GOP has been well-regarded, is also a new-breed a political activists who tout the much-talked about generational divide in regards to gay rights.
Richardson once wrote an article on his blog titled ‘Two Daddies?”, a post in defense of gay adoption and marriage that has since been removed by Richards following his recent employment with Barbour but can still be found using Google’s Cache Pages. In it, Richardson asks, “Is the fight to preserve the traditional American family one to, as its proponents maintain, protect children, or is it means by which to silence the “radical gay agenda” in the United States through institutionalized shame?” He goes on to write,
“My support for gay adoption will surely be met with hostility and, no doubt, charges of party defection by many of my colleagues, but the Republican Party is at a defining crossroads. Now is not the time for an echo chamber. And homosexual demagoguery is not the answer to the Party’s woes, particularly when gay men and women represent the only demographic in which John McCain bested President Bush (27% to 19% based on exit polling).
…gay-hostile rhetoric no longer resonates in suburban areas with soccer moms, many of whom have gay friends or family members, and plays even worse with young voters, 61% of whom voted against stripping gay couples of the right to marry.
To my dissenters, let me be clear: I am not advocating a liberal brand of judicial activism. I maintain that judicial resolution to these matters, adoption and marriage in particularly, typically leads to protracted and bitter legal battles, but, what is perhaps equally as distressing is our collective failure as a Party and movement to hold a candid discussion on the emerging role of gays in society at large – not as outcastes, but as equals.”
This kind of conversation isn’t particularly new or alarming. Even younger conservatives are more open to expanding gay rights than their older counterparts, yet it’s this very growing demographic that continues to work for a close-minded generation staunchly opposed to gay rights. Top campaign advisors for John McCain and George W. Bush have gone on the record to support equality only after leaving their posts, encouraging their party to become more open and accepting. But for an older generation that continues to be stuck in the past, their primary concern appears to be related more towards leaving behind a legacy of bigotry rather than becoming part of a growing, inevitable trend.
A similar paradigm shift exists on the left, as President Obama continues to feel growing pressure from within his own party and staff to endorse marriage equality, an issue that Obama has flirted with but has yet to throw his support behind.
“I’d like to see the president and Attorney General Holder announce that they will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act and to agree with the judge’s findings in the Massachusetts court case,” said Steve Hildebrand, who served openly as Obama’s deputy campaign chairmen during the election. He made these remarks in July 2010 during an interview with The Advocate following an LGBT event where he publicly urged attendees, “Don’t hate Obama.”
“This is a guy who isn’t going to do things exactly the way you want him to do, but know that his heart is in the right place. He has his priorities, they’re in line with our priorities and he’s going to do them at his pace.
That at the end of this four-year period, and ideally an additional four years, I don’t think the gay community will be disappointed with the progress that we made under this president.
I think it’s very important that we keep pressure on the president, the White House, and the Administration, and on elected officials across the spectrum but to understand that President Obama is an incredibly important and good friend to the gay community in this country. He’s not our enemy, we shouldn’t treat him as if he were; we should keep our on eyes on who our real enemies are.”
As for the GOP, James Richardson sums up his message with this cautious warning: “Times are changing, and if the GOP isn’t willing to change with them, they can at least have a discussion on the matter. Silence is not golden.”