This is it. The Nov. 6 presidential election will determine the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court and whether progress on LGBT rights continues or moves backwards. The choice for voters who care about equality couldn’t be more clear. Not only has President Obama joined the majority of Americans in fully embracing marriage equality, but on Oct. 25, Obama announced his support of three affirmative marriage initiatives in Maine, Washington and Maryland.
In stark, dark contrast, Gov. Romney’s campaign freaked out over even the possibility that the Republican presidential contender might be moderating his stance on the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. On Oct. 20, Romney surrogate Bay Buchanan issued a convoluted statement to BuzzFeed: "Governor Romney supports a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. Governor Romney also believes, consistent with the 10th Amendment, that it should be left to states to decide whether to grant same-sex couples certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights and the ability to adopt children. I referred to the 10th Amendment only when speaking about these kinds of benefits—not marriage."
Huh? States rights except when it comes to gays getting married—and then the federal government should dictate who loves whom and how?
Since the Tea Party elections of 2010, the conservative version of states’ rights means discriminatory Voter ID laws targeting minorities and the curtailing of reproductive rights for women. Romney said he’d be happy to sign a constitutional amendment banning abortion—with no exceptions. So remember: the FMA would place a federal ban on gay marriage rights and strip the six states and D.C. of their existing marriage rights, as well as nullify the election results of Maine, Washington and Maryland if voters there reaffirmed marriage.
Regarding gay adoption: Romney has not repudiated his 2005 comments to conservative voters in South Carolina: “Some gays are actually having children born to them,” the Boston Globe reported Romney as saying. "It's not right on paper. It's not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and father.''
Nonetheless, the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Romney—despite the principled precedent set in 2004 when LCR voted to withhold their endorsement of President George W. Bush’s re-election because Bush pushed the FMA. “Certain moments in history require that a belief in fairness and equality not be sacrificed in the name of partisan politics; this is one of those moments,” said then-Executive Director Patrick Guerriero.
The LCR endorsement came shortly after a reported 15-minute meeting on Oct. 17 between Romney and LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper in a farmhouse in Virginia. The meeting apparently focused on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act—currently only 16 states and D.C. ban job discrimination against LGBT people.
“I can say with confidence that the Romney administration would work on desirable outcomes for workplace nondiscrimination,” Cooper told the Washington Blade. “I’m going to leave it broad like that, because I think there’s room for administrative action as well as legislative. I also think it’s probably fair to say that legislation in a form of an ENDA or an ENDA-like legislation is certainly realistic.”
But the California LGBT community has been down this road before. In 1991, Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Wilson met behind closed doors with LCR members who reported back saying Wilson had given assurances that he would sign the gay civil rights bill, AB 101, something his opponent Dianne Feinstein had not pledged to do. (Feinstein now is leading the way to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.) So many gays voted for Wilson. His veto was such a betrayal that staunch gay Republicans, including Frontiers publisher Bob Craig, left the Republican Party. Similarly, after the LCR endorsement of Romney, longtime active LCR members and marriage activists Kevin and Don Norte resigned from LCR and quit the GOP.
“There’s not going to be a retreat by President Romney on repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Cooper told the Blade. “There’s not going to be a retreat on hospital visitation.”
But even former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell doesn’t trust Romney. When announcing his endorsement for Obama to CBS, Powell said: "The governor who was saying things at the debate on Monday night ... was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. I'm not quite sure which Gov. Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy."
In their endorsement, LCR said: “We are Americans first, and as such, must stand for what we believe is right for our country.”
Exactly. And the country’s founders placed equality above all else. So why should LGBT voters forsake progress that has already been achieved in favor of promises even straight Republicans such as Colin Powell suspect might be broken?
But the most significant question is: do you want Obama or Romney determining the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court? And remember, Romney favors ultra-conservative Justice Scalia, who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and probably, if given a chance, Lawrence v. Texas. It is not too far-fetched to say the future of the LGBT community is at stake this Nov. 6.
For LGBT voters, going forward or backward isn’t merely a campaign slogan.