22 January 2012

South Carolina Yesterday; Ecuador Tomorrow?

Media pundits have parsed Newt Gingrich's primary victory in South Carolina last night in a number of ways.  Some think it's an indication that the battle for the Republican nomination will be very close; after all, there has been one other primary and one caucus, each of which produced a different winner.  Others say South Carolina is a bellwether:  Every candidate who's won its primary since 1980 has gone on to win the nomination.  Then there are those pundits who think South Carolina is too different from other states that have had, and will have, primaries, to serve as a harbinger of what's to come.

But nearly all of the commentators seem to agree that Evangelical Christians played a large part in Gingrich's victory.  While a larger percentage of the population identifies itself as Evangelical in South Carolina than in any other state, it's hard to deny the influence they will have in upcoming primaries, and the general election.

That can have dire consequences for LGBT people.  Sure, Michele Bachmann may be out of the race, but her husband's "therapeutic" practice--which, among other things, purports to "cure" homosexuality--is still thriving.  He was her main campaign adviser; now that she's out of the race, I wouldn't be surprised if he were giving support to Gingrich or Rick Santorum, who has also denounced homosexuality in religious terms.

Some of my friends and colleagues--who work some of the "bluest" occupations  in one of the "bluest" states-- don't understand just how many people in other places hold similar beliefs and were sorry to see Bachmann leave the race but are willing to vote for people like Gingrich and Santorum.  Of course, I don't think they can elect a President all by themselves.  But they are vocal about what they believe, and they vote.

So what would happen if this country were run by people who operate or support "ex-gay" clinics or camps?  Well, this might seem extreme to some of you, but we could end up like Ecuador, where hundreds of such clinics exist. According to the testimony of people who've experienced them, the physical and psychological torture of women is endemic to those places.  According to Karen Barba, the Director of Fundation Causana, those who operating the centers are "not only getting away with obscene human rights abuses, they are profiting off them."

So those clinics come from an unholy alliance of bigotry married to greed, which is then covered with a veneer of religiosity.  Hmm...that sounds familiar.  I think we've seen it at work in this country's election cycle, and there's more to come.