Industry Republicans shy away from issue

Republicans in Hollywood feel energized by John McCain’s candidacy, but there’s one issue on which they’re likely to disagree with the candidate: Proposition 8.

That’s the initiative to impose a constitutional ban on gay marriage in California where the state Supreme Court recently legalized the same-sex nuptials. McCain has expressed support for the ban.

While industry Republicans have been more visible this cycle in their backing of McCain — the Weekly Standard said they were “out of the closet and into the spotlight” — it’s considerably more of a hot potato to be seen as opposing gay marriage, or to take a right-leaning stance on some other social issues, for that matter.

Patricia Heaton is one of the few high-profile names in the industry championing pro-life causes — and she’s taken plenty of heat for it. Ben Stein endured criticism for narrating a documentary advocating intelligent design. And Mel Gibson faced attacks for his “The Passion of the Christ,” including a parade of articles that delved into his own conservative religious beliefs. None has donated to Proposition 8.

As gay marriage proponents trumpet financial backing from the likes of Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg, the Yes on 8 folks have seen showbiz donations limited to show biz donors such as Pat Boone’s foundation and a member of the Osmond family. And those contributions were minimal compared to other Yes on 8 benefactors such as Focus on the Family and the Knights of Columbus.

It’s doubtful there will be names to match the stature of Pitt and Spielberg.

“I cannot imagine it,” says writer-director Lionel Chetwynd, long active in GOP politics. “On social issues, the right of center in Hollywood tends toward libertarianism.”

Chetwynd and such stars as Robert Duvall, Sylvester Stallone and Jon Voight all back McCain — but their reasons tend toward national security and foreign policy, not social issues. And in an election with the economic crisis and other dire concerns front and center, it’s hard to see many jumping on the Yes on 8 bandwagon.

“If you’re in the entertainment business, there are just some things that are beyond the pale, and Proposition 8 is one of them,” says writer-producer Rob Long, a McCain supporter.

“How could you work in the arts and in show business and not have a tolerant attitude about other people’s lives? Especially since here we have such a complicated relationship to straight marriage,” he says.

That’s not to say that gay marriage opponents are not out there in other sectors of Hollywood — donors to Yes on 8 include a handful of production technicians and effects artists — but it’s a different story among the creative community. One prominent Republican laughs at the prospect of industry support for Yes on 8: “They are not going to do that. You would call that the ‘silent minority.’ “

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