Norm Kent

Republican Presidential Candidates Run Away from LGBT Rights

Filed By Norm Kent | January 19, 2012 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: GOP presidential campaigns, LGBT right, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican presidential candidates, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul

There he was, Mitt Romney, minutes after winning the New Hampshire primary, dressed perfectly in a dark blue suit, addressing a national audience in prime time with his heralded campaign stomping speech.

Flanking him, all five of his sons, clean-cut, shorthaired, crisply dressed in button down white shirts, smiling by their running-shoes.jpgdad's side. And all I could think about, for this carefully orchestrated TV opportunity, was, "Okay, which one of these kids is gay?"

Come on, let's be real. Five cute Mormon boys, all coming out of New England prep schools. One's gotta be! Actually, this is not far fetched if you buy into a 2007 blog posting by Perez Hilton. But the truth is all of Mitt's five boys are married, and four have sons of their own. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

And if there is anything all of these would be Republican presidential nominees are not, it is in favor of gay sons, gay rights, or gay marriage. In fact, in one of the early debates, Diane Sawyer asked all the candidates to make believe they were in a room talking to a same-sex couple. From the looks on their faces, you get the feeling they all wish they would rather have gotten an emergency phone call saying their house was on fire.

In fact, the entire Republican campaign for president has been marked by comments from each candidates about how gay friendly they are not. We are just not likely to find Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, or Mitt Romney, for that matter, on Duval Street in New Year's Eve for the shoe drop with Sushi. Leave that for Anderson Cooper.

In the debates, from New Hampshire to Florida, not a single candidate supported same-sex marriages, and some even spoke against gays adopting children.

None had ever called for the abolition of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy.

None has ever supported the definition of marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman. Some have supported a federal constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

None has ever embraced or endorsed the congressional bill calling for an end to discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace.

None has ever come out and said they have had an LGBT person as part of their immediate family.

Starting with the flap over dissing a gay veteran who challenged the candidates on their views of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' each candidate for oval office has faced personal and professional questions about LGBT issues, but all refuse to be advocates.

Many LGBT leaders are still reeling from Rick Perry's comments denouncing President Obama for refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, and for tolerating gays in the military. Let's not lose sight that while Perry may not become president and leader of the free world, he is still governor of one of the largest states in America, a home to popular gay destinations in Austin, Dallas, and at least one quiet piano bar in Houston.

Rick Santorum, when he was asked how he would feel if one of his children were gay, said he would still love him, but you get the feeling only if the kid went for reparative shock therapy. After all, this is the same Santorum, who back in 2003, likened gays to bestiality, causing one hundred students from a college graduating class to walk out on his commencement speech.

Newt Gingrich has been campaigning that "the sacrament of marriage was based on a man and a woman; has been for 3,000 years, is at the core of our civilization, and must be protected." He believes in marriage so much that he has tried it three times. I doubt Gingrich will be in any gay pride parades anytime soon.

Ron Paul? Well, this is a man so wrapped up in his libertarian policies that he thinks gay people and tacos are aliens from another planet who deserve no federal constitutional protections.

Of course, Gingrich bills Romney as a 'Massachusetts Moderate,' but Romney has been parading himself to groups like the Conservative Political Action Caucus as a lifelong conservative who insists marriage must remain a contract between '"one man and one woman;" that courts should not be tinkering with history. Still, that line has not won him the support of the right wing of his party, leaders like the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, who brought 150 evangelical bigwigs to Houston last month to endorse Santorum.

Thus, the most positive things LGBT advocates can say for Romney is that the worst and loudest anti-gay conservatives in the Republican party don't like him, because regardless of what he says, he is perceived as too friendly on gay rights issues. It is the price he pays for having once been the governor of Massachusetts, where the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Romney though has been denouncing that decision since the day of the ruling years ago.

Romney has, however, stated that he would not allow his faith as a Mormon interfere with his duties as a president, noting that in Massachusetts, as its governor, he appointed gays and lesbians to office. He boasted that while he would protect the kinds of benefits "we might associate with people who form civil unions," it would be "a mistake" for society to expand the definition of marriage to same sex couples.

The bottom line for all the candidates is that it would be a mistake for advocates to believe for a moment they will actively advocate, articulate, or espouse causes supportive of LGBT rights, in the workplace or at home. In fact, with some of them, flaunting might become a felony.

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