Republicans, Marriage, Weed and the Breaking Loose of Hell

And don’t get us started on the headless chickens

Illustration by Cierra Pedro

Illustration by Cierra Pedro

Shortly after the Nevada Republican Party removed disapproval of gay marriage from its platform, 50-mph gusts of wind ripped across the Valley in the dark, causing trees to topple and lights to flicker. Headless chickens started turning up in an alley on East Charleston Boulevard. More than 100 entities asked the Clark County Commission for permission to sell weed. Britney Spears reportedly received an offer to extend her stay until 2016.

None of this was related, of course. But Republican National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty, who is from Oklahoma, might not see it that way. She fired off an email warning other Republicans: Nevada’s move was a “direct attack on God and the family,” rolling back “5,000-plus years of natural human sexuality.”

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald, a former Metro police officer and Las Vegas City Councilman known for fielding multiple ethics charges related to strip clubs, bankruptcy and cronyism, provided the Las Vegas Review-Journal with this inspiring defense of the state party’s political decision: “Somebody had to be the first one to step out into the abyss.”

So it’s important to note that this was, in the end, a political—not a principled—decision. In fact, Nevada Republicans felt the need to clarify that point in a letter, boldly recognizing that “Nevada is home to many diverse people, including a very large LGBT population.” Ergo, the party further deduced, “an insistence on emphasizing divisiveness will do nothing more than guarantee that we’ll continue to lose elections.”

See, what Oklahomans like McLarty never seem to appreciate is that it’s difficult to take these giant opportunistic strides in a place as socially conservative as Nevada. You really have to know the lay of the land here, and calculate the precise moment for fine-tuning a platform. For more than a century, Las Vegas has been about gambling, drinking, illegal-but-not-illegal prostitution, quickie (natural human sexuality) marriages and divorces, and rampant backroom deals. But nothing weird. Making a statement that doesn’t oppose gay marriage but also doesn’t support it takes cojones.

Sometimes, an organization gets the timing of courageous stances a bit wrong. For example, a few days ago, in 2014, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department co-sponsored an event aimed at teaching sexual abstinence to teenage girls. Things became confusing only when event organizers, including well-meaning church- and community-outreach groups, conflated the adorable abstinence message with human trafficking and meth death. And diet pills. The presentation pointedly associated this grab-bag of evils with the failure to abstain, and illustrated its point, according to the Las Vegas Sun, by carrying “dead” girls—volunteer actors—off stage in body bags.

So after a shitstorm from everywhere post-1952 except, possibly, Oklahoma, a clarification from the publicly funded agency charged with enforcing our laws was in order: “Some of the opinions at the meeting did not represent those of the department.”

Arguably, this is a stronger statement than “Somebody had to be the first one to step out into the abyss,” but maybe not as strong as we’re capable of—say, something on the level of “What Happens Here, Stays Here.” Nevertheless, consider it clarified. Let the storm pass. Let the chickens stop turning up with their heads cut off. Let Britney sing.

Now that Nevada Republicans want to win elections, and Metro is, or is not, in the wait-till-marriage business, it should be perfectly clear to the rest of the nation where Las Vegas stands: on the precipice of opening a slew of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Among the first in line for County approval? Republican political adviser Sig Rogich, who in addition to being a former adviser to “Just Say No” stalwarts Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, is also a founder of R&R Partners, the creators of “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” the best worldwide marketing slogan ever.