January 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm EST | by Peter Rosenstein
LGBT voters should put principle over party

Saturday is the South Carolina primary and choosing one of the Republican candidates left in the race must be agonizing. Members of the LGBT community might differ on a lot of issues but opposing candidates who want to enshrine discrimination shouldn’t be one of them.

Republican, libertarian, Democratic or Green, candidates should believe that our basic rights are inviolable. It was laughable when Rick Santorum tried to favorably compare his position on LGBT issues with those of President Obama. The president supports repealing DOMA, passing an inclusive ENDA and same-sex parent adoptions; he pushed for and signed the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Santorum doesn’t support any of that and has said some of the most outrageously homophobic things — like children being brought up by a mother and a father, even if the father is in prison, are better off than children being brought up by two loving same-sex parents.

But then Santorum is only the worst of the current crop of Republican presidential choices. Their stands on LGBT rights do share one thing in common with President Obama: they all oppose same-sex marriage. But that is where the comparison ends. Mitt Romney once said he favored LGBT rights but he just disavowed a flier from a previous campaign in which he said he believed that all people regardless of sexual orientation should have equal rights. Whether he no longer believes that or is just pandering to the bigoted voters who make up a big part of the Republican primary vote is irrelevant. He is asking people to vote for him based on what he says today. The best of the lot was Jon Huntsman, Jr. who dropped out of the race this week. But it was apparent since he is a fairly reasonable guy he would have zero chance of winning the Republican nomination.

Voters decide whom to support on more than just LGBT issues and that is the way it should be. We can and do have many differing views in the community on tax policy, immigration, the federal government’s role in stimulating the economy, healthcare and issues impacting the environment among others. But I find it hard to fathom any member of the LGBT community would vote for a candidate who believes in and backs policies that ensure members of our community will remain second-class citizens during their presidency.

In all likelihood there will be divided government for the next four years. The Founding Fathers understood that would happen and they provided for three distinct roles — the executive, legislative and the judiciary. We have also seen the method devised for the checks and balances between the two houses of Congress. What I don’t think these men foresaw was the unwillingness of elected leaders to communicate and compromise. The result of that unwillingness to compromise has brought us the current do-nothing Congress.

It is my hope that the American people will see fit to change that by electing individuals who may agree with their disparate positions but are also adult, educated and knowledgeable enough to understand the need for real compromise. Clearly, as we heard on a recent edition of “60 Minutes,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) doesn’t know the difference between the words cooperate and compromise. He either thinks they mean the same thing or is merely trying to obfuscate and that is just as bad for the nation.

In the next 20 years — despite the Rick Santorums of the world — the LGBT community will achieve full civil and human rights. People will see through the lies of the Newt Gingriches who blame marriage equality for the Catholic Church’s withdrawal from adoption and other programs in places that have passed it, rather than admitting they were only willing to provide such services if they got government money to pay for them.

In our community, let’s have the same debate as the rest of the nation on the myriad issues that the government faces. But let’s also agree we will not support candidates who support laws that will ensure that we remain second-class citizens.

  • Given that about one-third of gay and lesbian voters currently cast our ballots for non-Democratic candidates, there must be something going on that this writer wants to mask by his imploring us to do otherwise. Younger LGBT voters in particular don’t “buy into” the premise that we need to decide our support predicated on gay issues. These numbers have been growing in every election in the last few years and will undoubtedly continue to increase. For many, these larger issues do indeed trump the specific positions of candidates on gay issues, especially as our culture becomes more fully assimilated and our lives and sexual orientation are largely not of interest to a majority of people.

  • Tom, you’re beyond absolutely correct. The writer is an apologist for and unabashed supporter of progressive liberal democrat principles/policies who feels that only the most ardent supporters of LGBT rights deserve our votes. In that regard, he’s very narrow-minded. The economy, foreign policy, and national defense trump any issue related to sexual orientation.

  • It shouldn’t be an either or situation but as usual we’re being used as a wedge issue. It won’t be as big a vote getter as in the past but it might give a few points here or there. The Supreme Court is a huge concern for me & not only vis a vis gay rights, but a whole host of issues. The next president will in all likelihood be making a number of appointments. Do we really want the court to go any further right? That is both frightening & sobering. There’s no reason we can’t have healthy economic growth,a proactive foreign policy, a strong military and equal rights. As much as Obama has disappointed me in some regards,he’s still vastly preferable to any of the GOP.

  • Sounding like a true politician, Peter. Are you sure you’re not running for office?? Maybe it’s the editor’s interference, but you’re speaking out of both sides of your mouth.

    “…let’s also agree we will not support candidates who support laws that will ensure that we remain second-class citizens.” Translation: It’s ok to vote for Obama (he does not support DOMA)

    The print version of this article has the subhead “Oppose candidates who would keep us second-class citizens”. Translation: do NOT vote for Obama, he firmly believes that same-sex couples should stay out of the institution of marriage, and be kept far far away from the 1,100 federal benefits that my spouse and I are both denied, keeping us second-class citizens.

    So, which is it? Yes, I agree, let’s always “put principle over party”. How exactly do we all do that, in the same way? ;)

  • President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. If someone accuses you of being a homosexual terrorist, you can be arrested by military police or quasi-military agents who can then imprison you for the rest of your life, denying you a fair trial, and brutally torture you for the rest of your life. Now we all have no rights whatsoever, thanks to Obama and the machine. What is really dangerous is the campaign of Ron Paul. Imagine if we had a little freedom and liberty. What would we do with it?

  • I see the self loathing gays have already begun posting their line of drivel. It sickens me to see that you are so busy trying to beat the drum for the right wing, you ignore the fact, they hate you and would just as soon see you locked up or expelled from the country before they gave you equal rights. I will be voting for President Obama and will be voting for Democratic candidates in every possible race. I will NOT support any candidates with a GOP affiliation, now or ever, for that matter.
    Our rights as citizens which have grown, can just as easily be set back, by a GOP majority in both houses and sitting President. While you may enjoy many freedoms now, don’t rest on your laurels or you may find them ripped from under you.

  • @Gene Brake: You, too, epitomize exactly what I referenced above – a narrow-minded voter.

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