David Koch Says He’s Pro-Gay Marriage But Also Pro-Republican; Let’s Dial Back the Attack

David Koch recently made headlines for a Barbara Walters interview in which he said that he supports same-sex marriage and considers himself socially liberal but fiscally conservative. Koch had previously voiced support for gay marriage in 2012 and stated point blank that he disagreed with Mitt Romney on the issue. Understandably, Barbara Walters asked him about his donations to homophobic politicians. Koch’s response, saying that it was “their [the homophobic politicians’] problem,” and implying that he donated to them based simply on their fiscal policies, was certainly problematic. One should not prioritize economic concerns over people’s civil rights, and the anti-gay bigotry of people like Ted Cruz is not just “their problem,” since they help set national policy. I personally vote for whichever candidate supports equal rights for gays and isn’t racist or homophobic, provided they haven’t done anything extremely heinous, such as abusing a dog. (If they are guilty of extremely heinous acts, I vote third party.) Earlier this year, I said I would support Hillary Clinton over Rand Paul in a presidential contest due to Paul’s racism and homophobia, despite preferring Paul’s policies in many areas. I stand by that and, indeed, I would be willing to vote for a non-bigoted Socialist over a bigot with a perfect plan to revitalize the economy. However, I would advise against pillorying Koch too much for his (misplaced) prioritizing. To illustrate this point, a scenario is in order. Imagine that David Koch had said just a few years ago that efforts to legalize gay marriage and adoption were plots by Satan. Then imagine that earlier this year, Koch had reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage. And finally, imagine that he had an official policy denying high-ranking positions in his company to women. Most liberals would justifiably be raking him across the coals as a homophobe and sexist. Yet all of the hypothetical words and actions that I just described are things that Pope Francis has actually said and done, and he is practically a liberal icon. David Koch says he supports gay marriage and is labelled insincere, while Pope Francis repeatedly says he opposes it and gets a free pass. This indicates that many liberals, like David Koch, prioritize fiscal issues over civil rights, praising Francis because they see him as an economic progressive and letting his sexism and homophobia slide. How is that different from David Koch being thick as thieves with homophobic Tea Party candidates, other than the fact that Koch and the liberal Left have different economic views? Gay rights activists were right to call for the resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich due to his donations to the Yes On 8 Campaign, but that analogy works poorly in the case of David Koch. Eich donated to a campaign that was operating for the sole reason of opposing gay equality. Koch is donating to people because they share his economic views. Unfortunately, a lot of these people are also homophobic. However, we have little reason to think that Koch donated to them because they oppose gay equality, since he has said multiple times that he does not share their views in this area. I am reminded of when, a while back, anti-Prop 8 lawyer Ted Olson had his credentials as an ally to gays called into question because of his ties with conservatives. As with Koch, I’d prefer if Olson cut ties with anti-gay marriage conservatives. But there’s a double standard here if those who criticize Olson’s ties with conservatives do not also demand that the left-wing Cornel West cut his ties with Tavis Smiley. After all, Smiley has gone on record opposing equal rights for gays and lesbians. A lot of pro-gay marriage conservatives and a lot of pro-gay marriage liberals need to give equal rights a higher priority than they currently do. However, singling out David Koch for doing something similar to what a lot of liberal Democrats do is unfair.

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