This past weekend, PRIDE celebrations took place in cities across the country, including Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. Yesterday, The New York Times had a great piece on Obama staff and volunteers marching in PRIDE parades and recruiting volunteers. The occasion prompts reminder of another stark difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
While Barack Obama has come out in support of marriage equality and worked to give LGBT Americans the same rights as the hetero folks, Mitt Romney said kids are better off with same-sex parents.
Let's unpack this a bit. Obama, who for a long time had publicly supported civil unions but not full marriage equality, came out as a supporter of same-sex marriage rights in a televised interview earlier this year. Before his landmark statement on marriage equality -- he's the first sitting President to affirm such support, and to borrow a phrase from Joe Biden, it's a BFD -- Obama had already signed the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and ordered the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA, the "Defense of Marriage Act," the federal law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. It prevented individual states from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states, and also required the federal government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, from insurance benefits to joint tax returns.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney made a speech to the "Faith and Freedom Coalition" earlier this month in which he repeated his views that same-sex parents are inferior to heterosexual parents.
Read his spokesperson's statement affirming what Romney said below the jump.
His spokesperson reaffirmed Romney's prejudice against the parenting skills of LGBT Americans:
Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Mr. Romney, said it is the candidate's long held belief children are better off with straight parents. "This is what he's been saying forever," Mr. Williams said. "He's always said that the ideal setting to raise a child is with the mom and the dad."
Yuck. What a shallow, ignorant statement. There are amazing single parents and same-sex parents that do an amazing job -- one could even argue that they might indeed do "better" than some of their hetero counterparts -- but that's not the point here. Romney's simply using this issue as an opportunity to score cheap points with homophobic Republican voters while beating up on LGBT Americans, who are at the forefront of our country's current battle for expanded civil rights.
Speaking of bullying LGBT Americans, when Mitt Romney was attending his elite, private high school as a teen, he led a group of friends in a "prank" where they tackled a student who was perpetually teased for his presumed LGBT status and cut off all of his hair. Read the full story in the Washington Post. It's a harrowing read, compounded by the fact that when Romney was confronted about the event he claimed not to remember it. His friends who joined him in restraining a young LGBT teen and attacking him with scissors do recall it, however, and many say it haunts them to this day.
I wouldn't expect to see the Romney campaign marching in a lot of PRIDE parades any time soon, would you? After all, here in Texas, Dallas mayor Tom Leppert, an also-ran in our recent Republican US Senate primary, did march in his city's PRIDE parade and was roundly attacked during debates for participating in two parades.
[O]pponents called Leppert's participation an endorsement of a lifestyle they reject, saying leaders who don't stand up against such groups are to blame for the collapse of America's "moral fiber."
"When the mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride, that's a statement," former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz said during a crowded debate at the Dallas Country Club. "It's not a statement I believe in." Former ESPN commentator Craig James said Leppert was a poor example for children looking for guidance on Christian values.
So for everyone who says there's no difference between the two candidates, that there's no difference between the two political parties, here's one glaring, big example -- on a fundamental issue of civil rights, no less -- that proves how far apart the two really are.
President Barack Obama is expanding rights for LGBT Americans, and standing up for basic equality for same-sex couples, the kind of rights and equality that hetero Americans enjoy every day without even thinking about it. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is using our LGBT friends to score cheap political points by calling them inferior, and has an alarming past of beating up on the "different" kid. Here in Texas, Republican statewide candidates are just as extreme, attacking a big-city mayor for participating in a PRIDE event, suggesting that such inclusion decays our very moral fiber.
The choice seems pretty clear to me. Like equality for everyone? Vote Obama.