Donovan’s Quick Take: Han comes out in favor of marriage equality

From Focus Taiwan:

“At a campaign event in Taipei on Saturday, a young supporter noted the issue’s importance to the younger generation, and asked if Han would support efforts by some KMT lawmakers to repeal the legislation.

Han responded that in life — from our family relationships at home, to our friendships at school, to our romantic relationships as adults — attachment and love are inescapable.

“And so I hope and pray that people who love each other can become family in the end. I completely respect people’s relationships, because they can see their own situation most clearly,” Han said.

Some media outlets said Han’s response has changed from last year, when during his 2018 campaign for Kaohsiung mayor, Han offered support for the traditional “family values” espoused by many branches of Christianity.”

Donovan: There are two possibilities here, and they’re not mutually exclusive.  First, he genuinely means it.  That would be a surprise, as generally his comments suggest he has more conservative views on life in general, but he has never specially spoken on this subject.  His quote above, however, is quite interesting, especially “I completely respect people’s relationships, because they can see their own situation most clearly”, which is a thoughtful, empathic way of putting it.  That certainly goes against the impression he gives generally, with his frequent comments that are offensive to women and Southeast Asians working in the country, which suggest a more traditional worldview.  It is also at odds with his campaign partner and wife Lee Chia-fen, who has been clearly against it, again from the article: “The reports also stated that during a speech this month in Taichung, Han’s wife, Lee Chia-fen (李佳芬), said that marriage equality had been “overexploited,” and that Han would review the policy if elected president.”  She also is against gender education in schools and other socially conservative hot topics.  However, spouses frequently have different views on issues, so Han could be finally expressing his own personal view on the matter, there is no way to know for certain.

The other possibility is that he is desperate.  As the quote above states, “a young supporter noted the issue’s importance to the younger generation”.  Han has been doing miserably in the polls with people under the age of 40, and this may be his attempt to turn things around with that demographic. His support base has withered to a hard core of fervent supporters, almost all between the ages of 40 and 60, and skewed towards women.  However, without a comprehensive strategy to win over younger voters, this alone won’t do it–by itself it simply comes across as cheap pandering, which would be a shame if he genuinely meant it.  Worse for Han, this will hurt him with his hardest core supporters and probably his best activist and get-out-the-vote organizers: social conservatives and conservative Christian churchgoers.  In short, this puts him at risk of finally alienating a chunk of people who have stuck by him through thick and thin, refusing to turn away regardless of his blunders, gaffes, past scandals, allegations and strong hostility from a high percentage of the population.  In all of those cases, they still believed he had their values at heart. Will they still believe that now?

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