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Adam Kirk Edgerton Headshot

Our Rights on the Line

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On Tuesday Americans will cast a vote on whether to give full rights under the Constitution of the United States to gay and lesbian people, or whether to treat them as second-class citizens for a generation. When I wonder why I find myself so emotionally invested in this election, I realize that it is because my everyday life, and my future, is on the line.

People use this sort of dire language in every single election ever. You could argue that it's reasonable to use this doom-and-gloom rhetoric when discussing Democratic vs. Republican economic policy. You can use it to discuss the right of women to choose. And you can even use it to highlight cuts to education that would occur under a President Romney, and the fact that millions more would slip into poverty under his proposed policies.

But for LGBT Americans, the choice is clear and inarguable. The Obama administration has chosen not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, and the plaintiffs in the legal challenges are benefiting from this correct, moral and just decision. Romney would reverse this practice. Romney would also have the power to appoint at least a couple of Supreme Court justices, an act that, in all likelihood, would deny marriage rights to me and my partner for a generation.

The outcome of this election will determine where I can have my wedding, and where I can be married. It will determine whether I can return to my home state of North Carolina and adopt children. It will determine whether I have legal protections as a gay employee in every state in the union. Unlike any other presidential election in my lifetime, Tuesday's election determines specifics in my day-to-day life.

So yes, I care about a broad variety of issues, and I don't consider myself a strict partisan. If I were in a different Massachusetts district, I would vote for a Republican representative, Richard Tisei, based on the illegal gambling scandal surrounding Democrat John Tierney.

But let me be clear: When I read about the Log Cabin Republican endorsement of Mitt Romney, I was reminded of those female jihadists who blow themselves up to protect theocratic male privilege. Especially considering how they have previously denounced his record, I find the Log Cabin endorsement as cynical as the Romney campaign. And to those who defend themselves as "more than one issue" voters, I question why Republican economics take precedence over basic civil rights for millions of Americans.

To those who think that certainly Bush was a worse opponent of LGBT rights, it's critical to remember the context. Yes, Bush is the polar opposite of Romney when it comes to conviction. Instead of fulfilling a political stereotype as the Machiavellian Romney does, Bush was dogged in his moral certainty. And in 2000 public opinion was still firmly against gay marriage, but it was possible for Republican moderates to support civil unions legislation. I was in the ninth grade, not knowing who I was, and having never met an openly gay person.

Now those Republican moderates are gone from office, and civil unions have become a separate-but-equal farce. We should not hesitate to use the language of morality, so often wielded by our opponents, in denouncing the Romney campaign, and the Republican platform's position on LGBT rights as baseless, cynical and immoral. It may not be the most persuasive rhetoric to those still on the fence, but it will help get out the Democratic vote on Tuesday, which is what we need the most in these last crucial days.

The only comfort in a Romney victory is that he will do whatever is popular if public opinion tips wildly in our favor. But it's better to rally our troops now than spend a generation wandering in the wilderness.

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
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