From complete opposition to LGBT rights advances to the frightening prospect of a slew of Supreme Court appointments to a litany of pro-gay advances that could be wiped away with the stroke of a pen, the prospect of a President Mitt Romney should be enough to motivate LGBT voters across the country to turn out in support of President Barack Obama’s critical second term.
In many ways, Romney has represented a disappointing step backward for the GOP from Sen. John McCain’s unsuccessful run for president four years ago. McCain, while certainly no LGBT advocate, tamped down the anti-gay rhetoric at the 2008 GOP convention, rebuffed the National Organization for Marriage and refused to endorse a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and even granted the Blade an interview in which he discussed his gay heroes and friends who have shaped his views on our issues.
Four years later, instead of moving forward, Romney has taken the Republican Party back to the dark days of the George W. Bush era. He signed a pledge from NOM to support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and promised to defend DOMA in court and to set up a commission to investigate supposed attacks on those who oppose marriage equality. He has spoken out against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, despite suggestions from the Log Cabin Republicans that Romney would be open to supporting the long-suffering bill. Romney also opposed repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
When you ask the Log Cabin folks to justify gay support for Romney, they invariably pivot and talk about jobs: LGBT people need jobs and Romney’s the guy to fix the economy. What malarkey. Romney has been repeatedly pressed to explain his so-called economic plan but he and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan refuse to elaborate much beyond calling for a 20 percent tax cut across the board. They have refused to say which deductions they would eliminate to pay for this exorbitant and reckless cut. So, if President Romney cuts taxes by 20 percent but eliminates the deductions (i.e. mortgage interest) that middle class taxpayers rely on, many of us could end up paying more in taxes. Of course, there’s no way to know for sure because Romney won’t answer questions about it.
On health care, Romney says his first act as president would be to repeal Obamacare. But wait, he also says he supports popular provisions of the law like not disqualifying those with preexisting conditions from coverage and the ability of dependents up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plan. Yet he offers no details on how he would pay for retaining those provisions. You can’t keep the most popular provisions of the law and strip away all the other pieces that help pay for it. The math simply doesn’t work.
And on LGBT issues, there is no comparison. President Obama has lived up to his commitment to be our fierce advocate. He signed an expansion of the federal hate crimes law; repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; endorsed marriage equality; ended Justice Department support for DOMA; and instructed myriad departments to find ways to boost LGBT visibility and inclusion in the nation’s laws, including mandating hospital visitation rights for same-sex partners. Just last week, Obama came out in support of gay couples whose rights hang in the balance in Maryland, Maine, Washington and Minnesota referenda battles.
It would be difficult to undo some of the legislative advances of the past four years, but regulatory issues are another matter. The Blade earlier this year identified 16 sub-regulatory policy advances that a President Romney could undo with ease. They include: improving treatment of LGBT and HIV-positive people in detention with Immigration and Customs Enforcement; funding for anti-bullying initiatives; including LGBT youth in abstinence-until-marriage sex education programs; changing customs declaration forms to recognize same-sex households; extending State Department benefits to partners of foreign service officers and many other key benefits.
Obama has surpassed most expectations — including my own — for his first term. On LGBT issues, his decision to stop defending DOMA represents a tremendous victory; on marriage, his brave stand means that support for marriage equality becomes the default position for all future Democratic presidential nominees. On the economy, he inherited a disaster of epic proportions from the last Republican president who promised to cut taxes and reign in spending but who instead presided over an unprecedented expansion of government and launched two unfunded wars, crippling the nation’s economy. Romney’s economic plans are too vague to be trusted. For true fiscal conservatives, the only responsible choice in this race is President Obama.
And for LGBT voters the choice is even clearer. A second term for President Obama means another shot at ENDA, the Uniting American Families Act, DOMA repeal and much more. President Obama has more than earned LGBT support for four more years.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.