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Peter D. Rosenstein Headshot

Reject Any Candidate Who Campaigns to Keep Us Second-Class

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Mitt Romney got trounced in South Carolina by Newt Gingrich, so as of today there were three races and three winners, one worse than the next. With Perry and Huntsman out and everyone conceding that Ron Paul has no chance of becoming the Republican nominee, the slugfest continues between Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum. It is hard to fathom that LGBT Republicans, if they took a long look in the mirror, could support any of these men.

Men and women of goodwill will differ on a host of issues, but within the LGBT community opposing candidates who pledge to enshrine discrimination shouldn't be one of them. If you overlook the sleaziness of Gingrich's personal life, the campaign-to-campaign changes in positions that are the hallmark of Romney's political career, and the hypocrisy of Santorum regarding earmarks and lobbying, and you claim Democratic candidates have some similar foibles, members of the LGBT community should still find it impossible to support a candidate who doesn't minimally believe that our basic rights are inviolable.

Listening to the Republicans has been difficult for many reasons, and as the fight narrows down, they are becoming downright nasty. An especially sad but laughable moment in the campaign occurred when Santorum tried to favorably compare his positions on LGBT issues with those of President Obama. The president supports repealing DOMA and passing an inclusive ENDA, approves of same-sex adoptions, and pushed for and signed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell; Santorum supports none of those efforts. Santorum did say that if his son told him he was gay, he would still love him, but where is the love if you go on to tell your son that you won't support his civil and human rights? He went on to say children being brought up by a mother and a father -- even if the father is in prison -- are better off than children being brought up by two loving, same-sex parents.

But Santorum is only the worst of the choices. While they all have one thing in common with President Obama in that they don't support same-sex marriage, that is where the comparison begins and ends. Mitt Romney once said he favored LGBT rights and made the claim that he was more in favor of them than Senator Edward Kennedy when he ran against him. Today he disavows stands he took in previous campaigns and as governor of Massachusetts, when he said he believed that all people regardless of sexual orientation should have equal rights. Whether he no longer believes that or is just pandering to a group of homophobic voters who make up a big part of the Republican primary vote is irrelevant.

Romney, along with his fellow Republicans Gingrich and Santorum, has signed the following pledge composed by the virulently anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM):

I, [candidate's name], pledge to the American people that if elected President, I will: One, support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification. Two, nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and to applying the original meaning of the Constitution, appoint an attorney general similarly committed, and thus reject the idea our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution. Three, defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act vigorously in court. Four, establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate and document reports of American who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if need. Five, advance legislation to return to the people of the District of Columbia their right to vote on marriage.

If a candidate believes that the majority should have the right to vote on the civil and human rights of the LGBT community, a minority, then you must question their commitment to every person's civil and human rights.

Voters decide who they support on more than just their own personal issues, and that is the way it should be. Members of the LGBT community have differing views on tax policy, immigration, the federal government's role in stimulating the economy, the war in Afghanistan, health care, and issues affecting the environment, among others. But supporting and voting for a candidate who advocates policies that will ensure that you remain a second-class citizen forever is difficult to understand.

The next four years will in all likelihood continue to see divided government. The founding fathers understood that that could happen and provided for three distinct branches of government: the executive, legislative, and judiciary. I don't think these men (and unfortunately there were no women involved at that time) foresaw the unwillingness of the men of good faith they assumed would be elected or appointed to communicate and compromise. The result of that unwillingness to compromise has brought us the current do-nothing Congress.

Hopefully the American people will see fit to change this and elect individuals who may have differing positions, but who are also adult, educated, and knowledgeable enough to understand the need for real compromise. As we heard on a recent edition of 60 Minutes House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) doesn't know the difference between the words cooperate and compromise. He either thinks they mean the same thing or is merely trying to obfuscate their meaning, and that is proving just as harmful for the nation.

Over the next 20 years, as the next generations take over the reins of government and society, the LGBT community will achieve full civil and human rights. People will see through and move beyond the lies and bigotry of the likes of Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich, who blame marriage equality for the Catholic Church's withdrawal from adoption and other social service programs in states and the District of Columbia where it is legal. They do this for cynical reasons rather than admit that the Church wants to confuse religious doctrine with civil law and was only willing to provide these services if they received government money to pay for them. Mr. Gingrich and his ilk, such as Christine O'Donnell, the former U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware, either have no understanding of the clear separation of church and state in our constitution, pretend not to understand it, or dismiss it. This separation that our founding fathers understood would protect future generations from religious fanatics and those who would try to impose their beliefs on others.

Within the LGBT community we will continue to have the same political debates that others have on the issues that the government deals with, such as war and peace, military readiness, education, and monetary policy. But surely for today and for future generations let us agree that we will not support candidates whose stated goal is to ensure that we will forever remain second-class citizens.