SpeakOut - We Must Prevent a G.O.P. Takeover
Many TV and radio pundits are predicting that the Republicans will take over the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate in November. The LGBTQ communities need to do as much as we can to prevent this from happening.
I know that many people are disappointed that the LGBTQ communities have not made more gains during the first half of Barack Obama’s term. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) is still in effect, as is the Defense of Marriage Act. Openly lesbian and gay members of the military have been kicked out while Obama has been president. We wonder: Why can’t Obama issue a stop-loss order so that LGBTQ members of the military can continue to serve while Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is being reviewed?
But consider this: During Obama’s presidency, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed, expanding to include actual and perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability, as well as race, color, religion and national origin. This requires the FBI to track statistics of crimes against transgender people (statistics for other groups had already been tracked), and it was the first federal law to extend legal protections for transgender individuals. Can anyone imagine this happening under George W. Bush?
Bush is no longer president, of course, but many Republicans have promised a return to those policies. Remember the G.O.P. during the Bush years and how supportive they were of LGBTQ rights?
During those years, the G.O.P. used homophobia and transphobia to retain power. One of the major methods of getting Bush elected in 2004 was getting states to vote on marriage equality. Many states passed constitutional bans or statutes against same-sex marriage during the Bush administration. Is this the leadership we want for the next two years?
In Kansas, the gubernatorial race also looks grim. The front-runner for the governor’s seat is anti-choice, anti-gay adoption and anti-evolution. The candidate, Sam Brownback, voted with the American Civil Liberties Union in 2008 only 8 percent of the time, and the Human Rights Campaign in 2008 gave him a rating of 20 (because of a vote for the Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act). The American Conservative Union gave him a lifetime rating of 92.76. Possibly the only benefit to a Brownback victory would be that it might inspire Thomas Frank to write a sequel to What’s the Matter With Kansas?
In Missouri, retiring U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond will be replaced by either U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, former Republican Whip, or Democrat Robin Carnahan, Missouri’s secretary of state. In 2005 and 2006, CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) named Blunt to their list of the most corrupt members of Congress. This was because Blunt’s actions benefited firms that employed his then-girlfriend (and now wife) Abigail Perlman and his son Andrew Blunt. Blunt attempted to become the House majority leader and issued a statement that he had the votes, only to lose to the current House Minority Leader John Boehner in February 2006. Blunt was named as one of the “Dirty Dozen” candidates for 2010 by the League of Conservation Voters for voting against clean energy and conservation. For 2008, HRC gave Blunt a “0” rating. The National Education Association gave Blunt an F rating for 2009.
NARAL Pro-Choice America gave Blunt a 0 rating. In 2007-08, Blunt had a 23 percent rating by the NAACP because of his stance against affirmative action. In 1999, he voted against gays adopting children. In 2004, Blunt voted for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and in 2006, he voted to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. This is not someone who would be LGBTQ-friendly.
The Tea Party, to some degree, wants to return to the social conservatism of the 1980s — anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ. There has been some talk that members of the GOP also want to turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights. All the progress that has been made for our rights in the past couple of years or so could be wiped away.
In 2009, Uganda proposed the death penalty for gays. Although the United States won’t go to that extreme, the people behind those death penalty plans in Uganda were involved with the C Street Family — a secretive fundamentalist organization of conservative politicians — according to Jeff Sharlet, who has written two books on the group. He has appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, among other media outlets, to discuss his reporting. Although they may have gone too far in Uganda, many will think it would be reasonable to have lesser penalties.
Even with the Senate’s current Democratic majority, they can’t get a DADT repeal to the Senate floor. On Sept. 21, Republican senators prevented the Defense Authorization Bill from being discussed on the Senate floor, largely because of the inclusion of a repeal of DADT. Imagine if more Republicans won seats in the Senate.
At an earlier Conservative Political Action Committee meeting conference, one man got up to denounce the presence of conservative gays. That’s the kind of thinking we are facing.
Yes, we might be disappointed with President Obama’s version of being a “fierce advocate” for our rights, but think of the alternative. That is what we can expect if the G.O.P. takes control of Congress.