Andrew Harmon reports on his visit with New Hampshire’s bishop, Gene Robinson, in which Robinson reflected on the this week’s actions of Republican voters in that state.
If the barnstorming through New Hampshire over many months hasn’t passed down his secluded country road, Robinson, 64, has been actively following the campaign rhetoric, even as he tends to an unrelenting schedule of leading the state’s parishes, finishing a book on marriage, and helping to launch a nonviolence project in Washington, D.C., one he says will reach out to “the churched, the unchurched, and the de-churched.” The program may mean an upcoming move to the nation’s capital.
With Jon Huntsman a bright exception, Robinson says, the social conservative–pandering candidates have faced an inspiring “buzz saw” of opposition on their LGBT positions from young people and state voters, 64% of whom said that the marriage issue has been “settled,” according to an internal Republican poll last month. This despite a continued, confusing push in the state legislature to repeal marriage equality and revert marriages of same-sex couples such as Robinson and Andrew back to civil unions (the state had officially upgraded civil unions to marriages a year ago). “People like Rick Santorum and others underestimate the real cultural shift that has taken place here,” Robinson says.
But with that cultural shift, in New Hampshire and elsewhere, comes a backlash strategy by social conservative groups that Robinson finds both ridiculous and masterful: sounding the alarm that religious liberty is threatened by LGBT rights and playing the victim card to promote their own wounded agenda.