The Republican candidate vying for the open U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts has come out in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
In a statement provided to the Washington Blade from his campaign via email, Gabriel Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, announced his support for ENDA in response to an inquiry on the legislation.
“I support ENDA, because I do not believe in discrimination of any kind, including discrimination by sexuality,” Gomez said.
Gomez, who after leaving the military became a private equity investor, hasn’t before explicitly addressed ENDA, although he said in March during a Republican primary debate that he opposes discrimination. In the same debate, Gomez said he backs DOMA repeal and marriage equality.
But on California’s Proposition 8, Gomez said in that debate marriage is a state issue and, while he doesn’t agree with the measure, added “you need to respect what the states decide on a state-by-state issue.”
Gregory Angelo, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, said Gomez’ support for ENDA means he’s next-generation Republican.
“Clearly, hearing that Gomez supports ENDA is encouraging news, and only goes to raise his profile as a next generation Republican who should have broad appeal to the voters of Massachusetts,” Angelo said.
Only two sitting Republicans U.S. senators are co-sponsors for ENDA: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
Gomez isn’t the first Republican U.S. Senate candidate to campaign in favor of ENDA. In 1994, then-U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney told Log Cabin Republicans he would co-sponsor ENDA and seek to broaden it to include housing and credit.
The gay conservative group GOProud has already endorsed Gomez. Log Cabin hasn’t yet made an endorsement, but Angelo said the group has spoken with the campaign and has a Board of Directors meeting in Boston next week — including a reception at the Algonquin Club on Friday — that will be attended by Gomez campaign representatives.
The candidate is running against Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) for U.S. Senate seat in a special election set for June 25 to succeed John Kerry, who left the Senate to become Secretary of State. Both Markey and Gomez made appearances at Boston Pride last week.
Markey, who’s served as a U.S. House member since 1976, has a long history of backing LGBT rights and is a co-sponsor of ENDA. He was among 67 U.S. House members in 1996 to vote against DOMA. More recently, he voted for hate crimes protections and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
Andrew Zucker, a Markey spokesperson, drew attention to Gomez’ belief that marriage is a state issue in response to the Republican candidate’s support for ENDA.
“Gabriel Gomez says that he supports same-sex equality, but he also supports the rights of 29 states like Texas, North Carolina and California to ban same sex marriages and enact discriminatory policies that bar gay and lesbian couples from receiving equal visitation rights and spousal benefits,” Zucker said. “The bottom line is Gabriel Gomez can’t be trusted to support same sex equality in the Senate. There’s only one candidate in this race whom the LGBT community can count on to fight for them in the Senate, and that’s Ed Markey.”
Markey enjoys a considerable lead over Gomez in the polls in the closely watched race. A poll conducted last week week from The Mass INC Polling Group gives the Democratic candidate a 7-point lead over the Republican.
CLARIFICATION: This article has been amended to clarify that the email from Gomez was given to the Blade by his campaign in response to an inquiry on the legislation.