Editors' Note: Michael Mitchell is the Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats.
"There's really no difference between the Democrat and the Republican candidates."
It's an all too familiar comment I hear around election time.
While it would be a gross generalization to suggest that all Republicans are horrible or that all Democrats are good, my experience has been that once a bunch of Republicans get together in a room, bad things happen - especially to the LGBT community.
The 2011 edition of Republicans Acting Badly has been particularly noteworthy in the vicious and ruthless way they are attacking pillars of Democratic and progressive support, whether it be women (pro-choice women, specifically), unions, or the poor. Given a few more million dollars from the Koch brothers and who's to say what (or who) they will turn into this week's bugaboo, all while each new GOP Presidential candidate espouses another round of BS about small government while thinking of yet another way to insert government into the most intimate parts of American's lives.
Republicans take control of the Wisconsin statehouse and governor's mansion and suddenly public sector unions are the enemy, to not only be vilified, but disappeared, a move that is replicated in several other states - unsurprisingly, states that are also swing states in the 2012 elections. In Michigan, the Republican governor is able to pass a measure that gives him the ability to take over local governments and replace them with his own cronies. In South Dakota, they have passed a law that makes it virtually impossible for women to obtain an abortion, even though they are technically still legal.
The Republicans campaigned on an economy and jobs platform in 2010, but have spent most of the last several months enacting a radically conservative agenda built on lies and superstition. And I'm not even talking about the religiously-based motives for opposing a woman's autonomy over her own body or even homosexuality. I'm talking about the lies about how cutting taxes will somehow spur spending or how cutting programs for the poor will put them on a road to prosperity.
I'm also talking about the unfounded and hysterical lies about what will supposedly happen if states pass marriage equality.
I've been watching with a sickening familiarity the crazy that froths from the mouths of so-called men and women of God who use religion-based bigotry to oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples in front of legislative panels from state houses to Congress, even as support for marriage equality steadily climbs among all demographics and has reached a plurality in most polls. A Republican-controlled legislature in Minnesota - the first in years - is on track to put an anti-marriage amendment on the ballot unless some moderate Republicans can put on their big boy pants, find just one 'small government' bone in their bodies and buck their caucus. North Carolina, the only southern state to keep an anti-marriage amendment off their ballot (thanks, in large part, to the able and strategic leadership of Equality North Carolina's Ian Palmquist), is likely to lose that crown now that Republicans control the state senate for the first time in more than a century.
Again, I'm not saying that all Democrats have acted admirably when they've controlled state houses and Governor's mansions. I think it's pretty safe to say, however, that when Republicans are in charge, good things rarely - if ever - happen for LGBT people, something that is being proved to us yet again by this inglorious class of rabid conservatives who care not a whit about anything save their wallets and those of their big business friends.
Say what you want about the unfulfilled expectations of President Obama's promises to the LGBT community, but it's undeniable that he and his administration have done more for us than any other president - combined. We expected nothing from the previous occupant of the White House and got pretty much that: nothing. We were made promises by President Obama and he has systematically been checking them off his list. Has he completed all of them yet? Of course not. Am I certain that he cares about our equality and is doing everything he can, given the political climate and realities, to affect positive change for us and our families? Absolutely. He himself has said that he cannot do it alone; and he certainly can't do it if he's spending all his time fighting off ridiculous GOP attempts to kill Medicare, kill unions, kill a woman's right to choose and kill whatever hope we have as a community for full equality in employment, marriage, and military service.
Let's get real. If Republicans take control of the US Senate and the White House in 2012, progress for the LGBT community will not only make a screeching halt, but will move backward. One doesn't need to look further than Republican-controlled governments across the country to see the game they'll run on the American people, and on LGBT Americans in particular should they be given that kind of control.
America should not reward GOP's bad behavior by returning them to power. They've proven yet again that their destructive, selfish actions are not worthy of the word leadership.