In Nebraska, where same-sex marriage has been illegal since 2000, legislators did something surprisingly pro-gay Tuesday.

Lawmakers were voting on a bill that would make it easier for military spouses to get concealed-carry permits. But the language, as introduced, was vague. After all, who counts as a spouse under Nebraska law? The federal government recognizes gay marriages, but Nebraska doesn't.

This seemed to rankle state Sen. Paul Schumacher (R), who argued that we should not allow gay love to get in the way of one's gun rights.

Joe Duggan, a reporter with the Omaha World-Herald, has the killer quote from the hearing: "Is not the Second Amendment sex blind? Color blind?" Schumacher said. "What great evil would come from saying a partner of somebody in the entitled to exercise their Second Amendment rights to carry a concealed weapon in this state?"

Schumacher proposed an amendment that would extend the bill's privileges to gay spouses, speeding up the process of obtaining a concealed carry permit....The amendment passed 38 to 0, and the bill passed the first round of voting 37 to 4.
After the amendment passed, a legislator who abstained from the vote said, "I think we just recognized gay marriage."

Sam Smith, Coastal Packet, ME, 2012 - Now that the gay marriage issue is back on the ballot in my state of Maine, it is perhaps time to revive my suggestion I made the last time: form a group called Gays for Guns, dedicated to breaking down the barriers between homosexuals and hunters - both groups well represented Down East.

The mere suggestion is alien to those liberals who have come to think of their cause as a gated community rather than as something to spread among those who don't look and act like themselves. But the history of successful American politics is filled with examples of just such cross cultural efforts. It's why, for example, the right is still afraid of Saul Alinsky, who believed in building alliances issue by issue. Louisiana's Earl Long built his political base in the deeply segregated south in part by registering large numbers of blacks and removing voting restrictions while pursuing a populist approach that also appealed to lower income whites.

Perhaps the most amazing example were the socialists in early 20th century America. This from the party's own history:
"From the beginning the Socialist Party was the ecumenical organization for American radicals. Its membership included Marxists of various kinds, Christian socialists, Zionist and anti-Zionist Jewish socialists, foreign-language speaking sections, single-taxers and virtually every variety of American radical. On the divisive issue of "reform vs. revolution," the Socialist Party from the beginning adopted a compromise formula, producing platforms calling for revolutionary change but also making "immediate demands" of a reformist nature. A perennially unresolved issue was whether revolutionary change could come about without violence; there were always pacifists and evolutionists in the Party as well as those opposed to both those views. The Socialist Party historically stressed cooperatives as much as labor unions, and included the concepts of revolution by education and of 'building the new society within the shell of the old.'"
By World War I it had elected 70 mayors, two members of Congress, and numerous state and local officials. Milwaukee alone had three Socialist mayors in the last century, including Frank Zeidler who held office for 12 years ending in 1960. And the  Karen Kubby, Socialist councilwoman, won her re-election bid in 1992 with the highest vote total in Iowa City history.

So Gays for Guns is not as strange as it sounds. My working principle on this issue is that if you run across an abortion-hating, gun toting nun who wants to save your forest, put her on the committee. 


Author and Journalist Dan Baum writes to point out that our proposal for a Maine group, Gays for Guns, to help win the state's gay marriage referendum is a little behind the times: "Gays for Guns exists. It's called Pink Pistols ('armed gays don't get bashed'). Run by a grand niece of Gen. Patton." Nevertheless, we think Gays for Guns would be a more successful moniker in the forthcoming Maine election.

There also used to be anti-gay-bashing patrols that called themselves the Pink Panthers. But I'm not sure whether they were armed.