For the first time ever, a majority of Americans supports marriage equality for same-sex couples. New York State recently welcomed marriage equality, the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) law became a thing of the past following a bipartisan push, and nearly 90 percent of people of faith say their beliefs lead them to the conclusion that equality is a natural extension of their faith.
Despite this progress, the crop of GOP presidential hopefuls and their supporters in Congress present a very real threat to equality's march forward.
Rick Perry, who several years ago asked a crowd if they would "rather live in a state like this [Texas], or in a state where a man can marry a man," has tried to tamp down his anti-gay past in a bid to look slightly more mainstream. But days before jumping into the presidential contest, Perry hosted a Christian-only day of prayer, sponsored by the rabidly anti-gay American Family Association (AFA) and supported by representatives from the International House of Prayer -- which was a driving force behind Uganda's "kill the gays" legislation.
Then there is Michele Bachmann -- her husband has been accused of practicing dangerous "reparative therapy" at his clinic in Minnesota, and Bachmann herself has equated being gay to being "part of Satan." She also has compared hate crime protections for LGBT Americans to protections for pedophiles and said marriage equality would force "little children ... to learn that homosexuality is normal, natural and perhaps they should try it."
Their right-wing allies in Congress have been just as bad. Consider the desperate, last-minute efforts by Republican House members Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) to stall implementation of DADT. Their reasoning? They claimed that they hadn't received paperwork detailing updates to regulations, particularly as they pertained to benefits. Ironically -- and unfortunately -- because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), gay and lesbian service members still will lack access to a wide array of benefits available to straight service members and their loved ones.
Also consider the House's entirely unnecessary vote last July to reaffirm DOMA. Or the refusal on behalf of some GOP lawmakers, like Michele Bachmann, to acknowledge the harmful effects of bullying on youth who are either LGBT or perceived to be LGBT. Or Indiana House Republicans who sent staff to trainings run by an organization with direct ties to the Family Research Council (FRC) -- classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. Perhaps the most jarring example of the far right's extremism was the audience at a recent GOP debate booing a gay soldier.
Whether it's Republicans in Congress, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, or organizations like the FRC and AFA, people are advancing dangerous and outdated ideas that don't reflect the values of mainstream Americans. We face very real challenges in the near future -- the need to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and finally end DOMA and tackling dangerous anti-gay rhetoric chief among them. But to continue achieving milestone victories like DADT repeal, we must collectively stand up and speak out against politicians like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and their anti-gay cohorts.
Learn more about how you can get involved at www.hrc.org/callitout.