This week Rick Perry told a 14-year-old openly bisexual girl who questioned him after a town hall in Decorah, Iowa, that he doesn't believe gays should serve openly in the military because "homosexuality is a sin." I sure hope young Rebecca Green saw the iconic image days later of two female Navy petty officers, Marissa Gaeta and Citlalic Snell, sharing the first same-sex kiss at ship's return. Because that sweet and wonderful photo is the future. And Rick Perry is the ugly and wretched past that we can hopefully move on from after this hideous GOP primary campaign.
A presidential candidate telling a teen she is damned to hell because of her sexual orientation is heartless enough. But in an atmosphere of reports almost every week of gay teens committing suicide because of the condemnation and rejection they experience it is downright diabolical. How cold-blooded and ruthless is this guy?
In the same week, Michele Bachmann and husband Marcus rejected the Kinsey Reports when a woman asked them if they realized that "2.8" of their 28 children and foster children are likely gay. I generally don't think it's fair to drag political candidates' kids into any discussion of their views ( though Bachmann drags her children into the spotlight at just about every debate).
But I do think it's not only fair but completely appropriate to remind all parents -- including presidential candidates -- that their kids might be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. In fact, I think we have a responsibility to do so. Again, in a climate in which teens are committing suicide because of attacks on their sexual orientation or gender identity, they are all our kids.
Without getting into a debate about Kinsey and the 10% figure, whatever the percentage of gay and bisexual people in the population, it's safe to assume the Bachmanns could have at least one gay or bisexual kid -- and all of us who are gay know there are many families where several siblings are gay, lesbian and bisexual. The Bachmanns could have a transgender child as well, as could any parents.
A few weeks ago, when Michele Bachmann was asked by Jane Schmidt, a student at Waverly High School in Waverly, Iowa, why gay and lesbian couples can't marry, Bachmann replied that gays "can get married" -- to someone of the opposite sex. That tells us exactly how the Bachmanns would respond to a gay child of their own, forcing him or her to "pray the gay away" in a repressive, emotionally-damaging program like the kind Marcus Bachmann runs, and pushing him or her to marry someone of the opposite gender. And to tell a young person at a campaign event -- and all young people -- to just forget about equality and deny who you are is pretty callous.
At least Newt Gingrich didn't advocate praying the gay away or marrying someone of the opposite gender when a man this week asked how he would "engage" gay voters. No, he instead just bluntly told the man if your civil rights are more important to you than issues Republicans care about, you're out of luck with the GOP: "If [marriage] is the most important issue for you then you should be for Obama."
And Rick Santorum, basking in his endorsement from the Iowa evangelical kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats, told Greta Van Sustern on Fox News after she asked how he'll get the the gay vote that he " has nothing against gay people" and would try to reach out to them on "national security" and "lower taxes." His agenda, which includes stripping gays of their rights and pushing for an amendment that would make them second-class citizens in the Constitution, is "not a personal attack," he assured. It's just "a public policy difference."
How cold-blooded and ruthless are these people?