Olympia Snowe’s Retirement: Chalk Another One Up for the Sexual Counterrevolution

By Nancy L. Cohen, March 1, 2012

It doesn’t seem coincidental that Senator Olympia Snowe gave up at the moment the right-wing is gunning for your birth control. Snowe, a rare moderate pro-choice Republican, is the most recent in a long line of Republican women casualties of the right-wing sexual fundamentalists.

Another story in the news today illustrates how a tiny minority is able to enforce its out-of-the mainstream dogma on the Republican Party. NY State Senator Roy J. McDonald was one of four Republicans who voted to legalize gay marriage.

The Republican committee in Mr. McDonald’s hometown, Wilton, where he was town supervisor, this week shunned him by endorsing one of his potential opponents in his re-election campaign. Mr. McDonald has also been spurned by Republican committees in Malta and Halfmoon, though they have not endorsed an alternative candidate, The Troy Record reported. . . .

Mr. McDonald is the second of the four Republican senators who supported same-sex marriage to face direct political trouble as all state lawmakers prepare to face voters this year.

Last week, Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican who also supported same-sex marriage, lost the support of the Erie County Conservative Party, which played a crucial role in his election to his first term two years ago.

As I’ve been talking about my book Delirium, I’m often asked, ‘if these people don’t represent majority opinion, how have they gained such power.’ Through determined and persistent activism at the local level of the GOP. Just look what happened to Snowe, McDonald, and the other NY Republicans who dared to show independent and principled opposition to the far-right social agenda of the sexual fundamentalists.


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Nancy L. Cohen