January 10, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Santorum denounced as ‘bigot’ at N.H. rally

Occupy New Hampshire protesters outside a Santorum campaign event (Blade photo by Michael Key)

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Rick Santorum faced a noisy reception from protesters over his anti-gay views at a Monday campaign stop in New Hampshire.

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania was jeered Monday night just before a campaign rally at Jillian’s Billiards Club in Manchester, N.H., where he was about to begin his final campaign event in New Hampshire before the primary vote Tuesday.

As Santorum made his way from his campaign van to the club entrance, a group of about a dozen demonstrators associated with the Occupy movement began chanting “Bigot! Bigot! Bigot!”

Brett Chamberlin, a straight 20-year-old college student, led others in a chant, assailing Santorum for his opposition to gay rights and marriage equality. Chamberlin shouted, “He says gay marriage … is a slippery slope … but we say that regulation … is a slippery slope, too!”

The protesters held signs expressing discontent with the current state of campaign finance laws. The bottom of the sign showed a Democratic donkey with three dollar signs and text reading, “MONEY OUT OF POLITICS #OCCUPY.”

Chamberlin, who is from Durham, N.H., concluded his chant by crying, “Rick Santorum! We don’t like bigots in New Hampshire!”

The protesters continued their chant of “Bigot! Bigot! Bigot!” after Santorum entered the building and pounded the signs on the ground.

Speaking to reporters, Chamberlin, who has participated in both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy New Hampshire protests, said problems with the election system prompted him to demonstrate.

“I’m here tonight because we believe that our system really is run by who can raise and spend the most money, which means that they pander to corporate contributions and anonymous PACs instead of responding to the constituents that they allege to represent,” Chamberlin said.

Chamberlin continued that voters  ”shouldn’t have to settle for the lesser of two evils” when selecting presidential candidates and “the bane of democracy is settling for the person whom you find the least deplorable.”

Brett Chamberlin (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Asked by the Washington Blade whether Santorum’s opposition to same-sex marriage was also a source of discontent, Chamberlin replied, “I think that I was picking on that because it’s simply the issue about which Rick Santorum is the most deplorable.”

Chamberlin said Santorum “uses that slippery slope argument” in arguments against same-sex marriage by suggesting it will lead to the legalization of bestiality and polygamy. Last week, Santorum said during a town hall if marriage was an inalienable right, one “could imagine all the different types of marriages that would happen.”

But Chamberlin identified several reasons why the senator was mistaken in predicting marriage equality would lead to adverse consequences.

“First of all, that slippery slope argument doesn’t hold,” Chamberlin said. “We’ve legalize gay marriage here in New Hampshire and nothing really happened. Everything is the exact same, except more people have the civil right of marriage. No. 2, that slippery slope argument was used by people who were against interracial marriage. There’s a long history of it being used by people that want to fight against progressive change.”

Chamberlin, a student of politics and journalism at New York University, said the slippery slope argument cuts both ways.

“When he says that you can use the government to justify the overwhelming morality of America — which is not true because an overwhelming majority of people do support gay marriage — well then where does the government interruption stop?” Chamberlin said. “Can they come into your house or tell you you can’t cut your sideburns or wear mixed-fabric clothing, which are also commandants that appear side-by-side with the anti-gay comments in Leviticus. So, it’s not founded in logic; it’s not founded in a knowledge of history or a knowledge of American civics.”

Asked how well he thinks Santorum will fare in the New Hampshire primary in the wake of his anti-gay comments, Chamberlin declined to handicap the candidate’s chances, but speculated the senator may do better in later contests.

“I learned after years of following politics not to make predictions,” Chamberlin said. “I think that as long he does better than expected, that’s a win for him. … He’ll certainly do well in South Carolina, though. It’s a far more conservative state and he can really push anti-gay [views] that he’s had to keep a little bit suppressed here in New Hampshire, where we’ve legalized gay marriage.”

Santorum has a notoriously anti-LGBT record, which he’s made known over the course of his candidacy for president by expressing opposition to same-sex marriage and, most recently, saying a child would be better off having parents in prison as opposed to parents of the same gender.

The hostile reception he received before his evening rally comes on the heels of a response regarding his opposition to same-sex marriage during a morning event at Derry-Salem Elks Lodge in Salem, N.H.

Asked whether his opposition to gay rights makes him an electable candidate, Santorum invoked an unlikely person whom he says shares his views as a reason why he could be a viable contender.

“Everyone on the stage yesterday and the day before has pretty much has the same exact position I have on those issues,” Santorum said. “President Obama says he has the same position I have on gay marriage.”

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum eludes protesters (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Santorum has been enduring questions for days on his opposition to marriage equality in town halls and has been criticized in the libertarian-leaning state for expressing those views. He enjoyed third place status in New Hampshire polls coming off his virtual tie with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses, but despite his strong showing there, hasn’t seen much traction in the state.

Santorum suggested that criticism over his position on marriage is unfair because he’s the only candidate that’s facing heat over the issue.

“The only difference is between myself and any of them is that when somebody asks me a question I answer it,” Santorum said.

It’s true that Obama doesn’t support same-sex marriage — much to the consternation of many LGBT advocates. But Obama and Santorum diverge tremendously on LGBT rights and government-recognition of same-sex couples.

Obama opposes a Federal Marriage Amendment and voted against it as a U.S. senator, while Santorum has pledged to back it as president and credits himself with being an architect of the measure while in the Senate. Obama has declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and refused to defend it in court, but Santorum has criticized the president and has pledged to defend the anti-gay law. Santorum has compared relationships of people of the same sex to bestiality.

Clo Ewing, an Obama campaign spokesperson, articulated the differences between Obama and Santorum on LGBT issues in a statement to the Blade.

“President Obama has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same legal protections as straight couples,” Ewing said. “That’s why he has called for repeal of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ and has taken steps to weaken this discriminatory law until the time it can be repealed legislatively.”

Ewing also noted that Santorum — as well as Romney — has signed a pledge from an anti-gay organization promising to oppose same-sex marriage if elected president.

“Meanwhile, both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum signed the National Organization for Marriage’s pledge, which defends DOMA and pushes for a federal marriage amendment,” Ewing said.

Michael Cole-Schwartz, a Human Rights Campaign spokesperson, also rebuked Santorum for suggesting his positions on LGBT issues are anything like Obama’s.

“Rick Santorum has made a career out of opposing LGBT equality so it’s laughable that he would even attempt a comparison to President Obama’s record of progress,” Cole-Schwartz said. “Rick Santorum wants to do anything he can to stop marriage equality — including supporting DOMA, promising to appoint anti-gay judges and even advocating for a constitutional amendment to ban rights for gay couples, all diametrically opposed to President Obama’s positions.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

4 Comments
  • The hypocrisy of those in the pro-homosexual movement is incredible. They scream for tolerance but are intolerant of anyone who disagrees with them. Such anti-Christian bigotry!

  • Punk cowards, it’s a shame. They always have to gang up on people and try to shut their mouths. They are the real intolerant BIGOTS!

  • Small Correction: The image on the signs is actually a democratic donkey and republican elephant mixed together, showing how money permeates the system on all levels and how this is a bi-partisan issue.

  • Congrats to NH for turning aside one bigot……now if you can be successful in rejecting your Repunlican legislature’s bigotry, it will be a bright day for NH ! Best of Luck!

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.
Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin