Wisconsin Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus recently threw his hat in the ring to replace Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele. It’s an interesting development, because Priebus was Steele’s right-hand man.
In his letter to RNC members announcing his candidacy, Priebus describes himself as both a fiscal and social conservative. He vows to promote the party’s formal platform if elected.
It’s important to note that the platform includes a section on “ensuring equal treatment of all.” Unfortunately, the section omits any commitment to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Republican platform that Priebus promises to promote also contains a section on “preserving traditional marriage.” It goes on to tout the fact that it was a Republican Congress that enacted the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
It should be no surprise that Priebus promises to fight equality, because in Wisconsin he helped orchestrate one of the most extremist slates of candidates in recent memory. In his pitch to RNC members, Priebus points to how he “recruited good conservative candidates” in Wisconsin this year. It seems that part of being a “good conservative candidate” means fighting any form of equality for LGBT families.
We now have a governor-elect (Scott Walker) who has pledged to take away the few basic rights that LGBT families currently enjoy through the state’s domestic partner registry. He also plans on revoking benefits for the domestic partners of state employees.
We have an incoming lieutenant governor (Rebecca Kleefisch) who made national news comparing same-sex relationships to relationships between humans and animals or inanimate objects. And then there’s senator-elect Leah Vukmir, whose ideology is so extreme that she couldn’t even bring herself to vote for legislation to protect students from bullying in our schools.
Chippewa County Clerk Kathy Bernier, who won a close race for the 68th Assembly District seat, told Wisconsin Eye that the very first thing she wants to do after taking office is repeal the state’s domestic partner registry. This is more important to her than jobs or the economy.
Open hostility toward LGBT families seems to be a common thread among the “good conservative candidates” that Priebus talks about having recruited in Wisconsin this year.
In many ways it seems that the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Republican National Committee have been on the same extreme right-wing trajectory for some time. The leadership of both bodies lacks even a single voice for moderation.
It doesn’t matter whether Priebus stays in Wisconsin or moves to the Washington, D.C., office that he covets. He will still be more accurately described as the Chairman of the Increasingly Intolerant, because that is what the Republican Party on both levels has essentially become.