| While we're on the issue of Tim Ravndal and his comments, what about that remarkable statement Jim released the other day?
We continually make it known that we will not tolerate bigoted dialogue, behavior or messages at our functions, our meetings or within our ranks. If a person demonstrates bigotry relative to sex, ethnicity, etc., they are not welcome in our organization. The Tea Party movement is about standing up for individual freedom for everyone.
I return to it because D Gregory Smith asks the provocative question, "is the Tea Party officially more gay-inclusive than the Republican Party?" After all, in the GOP plank, there's this language: "We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal."
The short (and simplistic?) answer is, yes it is. As this March 2010 NYTimes notes, the Tea Party movement has studiously avoided "divisive social issues," including gay marriage. The Tea Party manifesto, the "The Contract From the People," advocates only budgetary, economic, and taxation issues. The mission of Ravndal's group - The Big Sky Tea Party Association - doesn't mention any social issues:
The Big Sky TEA Party Association is dedicated to Honoring, Defending, andEducating the public on the Constitutional Principles of our Founding Fathers, which are Limited Government, Personal Responsibility, Free Markets, andFiscal Accountability in our Government.
The more complicated answer is, well, not so much. A poll of Washington Tea partiers found that the members were divided on gay rights - but that Tea Partiers were twice as likely as the general public to say that "gays and lesbians have too much political power." An Ohio Tea Party group sent out a survey that made obvious its opposition to gay rights - as well as abortion, climate change legislation, the income tax, and the existence of the Federal Reserve. Some of the Tea Party's well-known advocates oppose civil rights for gays, and some of its funding allies are anti-gay organizations.
In short, while the Tea Party limits its activities to fiscal issues, it is a-swarm with folks holding anti-gay views. And no doubt many of its members assume the mission of the Tea Party perfectly aligns with their own opinions.
Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail in Montana's Tea Party movement, and they will uphold Jim Walker's statement supporting individual liberty for all. That would be something...