The 1956 Broadway classic My Fair Lady tells the story of lowly Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle who embarks on a mission to pass as a proper English lady with the help of professor Henry Higgins, a speech therapist.
Higgins does help Doolittle transform. But in the end, we realize that she had it in her all along. She was the ugly duckling, so to speak.
Deep down inside, I wish there was a modern professor Higgins who could work his courtly English magic on the Republican Party. Only he wouldn't be focusing on their diction, posture, wardrobe and manners... well, maybe their manners. But if I had my druthers, he'd zero in on their homophobia.
As it stands, I can't imagine today's GOP singing My Fair Lady's award-winning lyrics about "the rain in Spain [staying] mainly in the plain." They'd likely feel more at home with their own uniquely bigoted twist on the classic, instead singing, "The rain in Spain falls mainly because of gays," or perhaps, "In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, homosexuals hardly muster merit."
The need for a homophobia-fighting Higgins was on full display at the recent so-called "Values Voter" Summit that featured a cavalcade of Republican presidential hopefuls and the right-wing Christian extremists who love them.
Take Robert Jeffress -- Rick Perry's Summit cheerleader -- for example. In addition to being senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, he was chosen to introduce Perry to Summit attendees.
Speaking to reporters after Governor Perry's remarks, Jeffress left facts and reality at the door when explaining his opposition to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," saying that AIDS was a "gay disease" that "70 percent of the gay population" has, "so there's a reasonable reason to exclude gays from the military."
That Perry surrounds himself with such people should come as no surprise.
The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" had been certified just two days before the last Fox News debate, and as luck would have it, a gay soldier submitted a video question asking the Republican candidates if they would work to "circumvent" repeal of the decidedly homophobic policy.
The soldier's question was met by a swift chorus of boos from the audience, which was in turn met by silence from the Republican candidates, as not a single one acknowledged the obvious insult or the soldier's service.
Enter New Hampshire State Representative Al Baldasaro, one of Governor Perry's latest supporters. Asked about the debate audience's response to the soldier's question, Baldasaro said he "was so disgusted over that gay marine [sic] coming out" ... "I thought the audience, when they booed the marine [sic], I thought it was great."
For the record, Perry, like his pro-hate posse, is opposed to gay men and lesbians being able to serve their country openly. Then again, he'd rather see all gays and lesbians back hiding in the closet, uniform or not.
Meanwhile, over in the United Kingdom, gay men and lesbians have been serving openly in the military without issue for more than a decade. What's more, Conservatives -- the party of Margaret Thatcher -- now praise the heroism of their gay and lesbian service members.
American Republicans could learn a lot from U.K. Conservatives. Sure, Conservatives in the U.K. haven't always been kind to the plight of the LGBT community, but they have evolved, even slowly, with the times toward equality for all of their citizens.
David Cameron -- Britain's Prime Minister and leader of its Conservative Party -- has set his nation on the course for full marriage equality for gays and lesbians by 2015 -- his second term, should he win.
Imagine for a moment what would happen within the Republican Party if Mitt Romney -- current GOP front-runner -- were elected, sworn into office, and within a matter of months had announced that the United States would recognize same-sex marriage by his second term in office?
Two things would happen. First, right-wing heads would explode the nation over, and second, Romney wouldn't be nominated for a second term.
In addition to pushing his country toward marriage equality, Cameron's government announced just this week that it would cut foreign aid to nation's that persecute gays. If America received such aid, I imagine 10 Downing Street's call to the Oval Office would be quite awkward indeed.
Until the stateside Republican Party can learn from the U.K.'s Conservative Party, there is little hope that it will ever be able to pass itself off as a proper English lady.
And we shouldn't treat it like one, either.
Karl Frisch is a syndicated columnist and Democratic strategist at Bullfight Strategies in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at KarlFrisch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube, or sign up to receive his columns and updates by email.
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