I know the overwhelming majority of us wouldn’t be caught dead voting for a Republican for president. But just in case you’re having a moment of weakness, let me tell you about four of the hopefuls who can never get our support.
They are Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Chuck Hagel, and Mitt Romney.
Brownback is a U.S. senator from Kansas who makes his platform out of what he is against – reproductive rights, stem cell research, and marriage equality, as well as any type of legal protections for LGBT people. You’d think he was one of those radical Christian right-wing nuts.
Well, he was…and then in 2003 he converted to Catholicism, after being mentored by his former Senate colleague and homophobe extraordinaire, Rick Santorum (Pa.). I guess the pope needs someone to carry his legislative agenda in Congress.
You may remember Brownback for holding up the nomination of Michigan judge Janet Neff to the federal bench because she attended the same-sex union ceremony of a longtime neighbor. This tactic was just part of his larger strategy to ban marriage equality, no matter what it takes. In addition to being a poster boy for the federal amendment against marriage rights, Brownback is trying to make support for same-sex marriage a litmus test for judgeship.
Mike Huckabee is a Baptist minister from Arkansas – do I have to say anything else? Oh, right, he was also Arkansas governor from 1996 to 2007. A self-described “son of the South,” Huckabee’s record on our rights is dismal. He pushed for and then signed into law Arkansas’ 2004 constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, saying the move was needed to stifle those who wanted to rewrite what he considered to be the nation’s social code. In 2006, when the Arkansas Supreme Court rejected a ban on gay foster parents – which had been established by the state board that regulates who can and can’t be foster and/or adoptive parents – Huckabee said, “I’m very disappointed that the court seems more interested in what’s good for gay couples than what’s good for children needing foster care.” Case closed on him.
We may like what U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) is saying about Iraq – he’s the maverick Republican bashing Bush and his mismanagement of the war. But that’s as far as our ardor can go.
Hagel has had a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign for the last three Congressional sessions. He managed to be traveling with George Bush when the Senate voted on the federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage, but he voted for it previously. He voted for Sam Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court and refused to sponsor the Uniting American Families Act. This legislation, formerly called the Permanent Partners Immigration Act, would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the same immigration benefits legal spouses of U.S. residents enjoy.
Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.) is destined for a case of political whiplash – racing away from past pro-LGBT stands only to crash into the brick wall of his actual words. He takes Hillary Clinton’s notion of “evolving” on our issues to a whole new level. When Romney ran against Ted Kennedy in 1994 for U.S. Senate, he pledged “to establish full equality for American gay and lesbian citizens” by providing “more effective leadership than my opponent.” When he ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he was endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans for supporting domestic-partner benefits for public employees. He promised to defend civil rights “regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race” during his inaugural speech.
Fast forward to the 2008 race, and Romney’s attempt to re-invent himself as the savior of the radical Christian right isn’t working. He is “devolving” on gay rights – according to him, we shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and our relationships are second-class. But his past support for civil unions and repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” reveal what we’ve all suspected for quite some time – Mitt is about power, not politics. He’ll do and say whatever it takes to get what he wants; we saw it when he ran for senator and governor.
So, it’s a definite no to Sam, Mike, Chuck, and Mitt. For some of us, it may be a definite maybe for John McCain and Rudy Giuliani – both of whom have been somewhat supportive of our rights. Want to know more? Check back when my next column appears.
Libby Post is the founding chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda and a political commentator on public radio, on the Web, and in print media. She can be reached at LesbianNotions@qsyndicate.com.