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.