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July 06, 2007
V 35 Issue 27

 
 
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Screwing over Rudy with big red X's
Screwing over Rudy with big red X's
Shame on the Task Force for bemoaning the influence of the religious right on Republicans and then rigging its report card to perpetuate their hold on the GOP. by Chris Crain - SGN Contributing Writer A second national organization has released its survey of where the presidential candidates stand on Gay issues, and the answer is a familiar one: Democrats good, Republicans bad.

The scorecard issued by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force tells the story graphically. The Democratic side is a sea of green checkmarks, registering support for every item on the Gay agenda except marriage. The Republican side, on the other hand, is a river of big red Xs, signaling the party's traditional opposition to our equality right down the line.

Matt Foreman, the Task Force executive director, scolds the GOP for being so far behind the Democrats, and Americans generally. "The differences between the Democratic and Republican fields of candidates on LGBT issues are shockingly stark and profoundly depressing," Foreman said. "Over time, the majority of Americans have moved to support basic fairness for LGBT Americans, including nondiscrimination and hate crimes laws, repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell,' and protections for our families. Sadly, the Republican field has gone in the opposite direction, still clearly pandering to the venom of the so-called 'religious right.'"

What's "profoundly depressing" to me, although not too "shocking," is how the Task Force rigged the scorecard to make the Democrats look good, and one Republican in particular look bad. In so doing, Foreman and his cohorts missed a chance to strike a blow against the way Republicans "pander to the venom of the 'so-called religious right.'"

On the Democratic side, the Task Force didn't follow the lead of the Human Rights Campaign, which pressed candidates to commit to specifics on federal recognition for same-sex couples. Instead, the Task Force coughs up a pretty green checkmark for "supports civil unions/DP" so long as the candidate has said the magic words-and regardless of whether he (or she!) has signed on a co-sponsor-for immigration rights or equal treatment of Gay relationships.

By glossing over the details, the Democrats look better than they should on our issues, since only Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich have actually signed on to support the Uniting American Families Act, and only Kucinich and Barack Obama support full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Republican candidates, on the other hand, largely deserve the big red 'X's that pockmark their scorecard. This year's slate of GOP contenders is, for the most part, every bit as out of step on Gay issues as Foreman complains they are-including John McCain, who stood up to conservative Christians back in 2000 but is in their back pocket now.

All of the Republicans except, that is, the one who just so happens to be leading in the polls. In every area Foreman claims Republicans are lacking, Rudy Giuliani is not, but you wouldn't know it from the Task Force scorecard.

Of the eight Gay issues picked by the Task Force, Giuliani gets green checkmarks for two, question marks with asterisks for two, question marks for two, and red checks for two. Here's how it breaks down:

- The two green checkmarks are for opposing a federal marriage amendment (as do McCain and Ron Paul) and supporting civil unions. So far so good, and in the case of civil unions, downright historic for a Republican.

-The two question marks with asterisks (?*) are on employment discrimination and hate crime laws. Rudy is on record supporting both, but he doesn't get a green check because he hasn't said if he would protect gender identity along with sexual orientation.

- The two question marks are on Gays in the military and Gay adoption. Rudy supports lifting the ban, but does not support that action during a war (or, probably, a Republican primary). Not the best answer possible, but the Democrats must agree, since repeal legislation sits ignored in Congress. On Gay adoption, which isn't a federal issue, it's unimaginable the man sought the support of a Gay couple during his divorce would oppose equal rights.

-Rudy gets a red "X" for opposing same-sex marriage, just like every serious contender on the Democratic side, and (of all things) opposing HIV/AIDS funding. The only evidence for the latter is criticism from an AIDS activist about New York City's 2002 budget. Color me underwhelmed.

So strip away the questionable characterizations, and what do you get? Rudy really deserves a red "X" only on marriage, and should have gotten green checkmarks (though some with asterisks) on all the rest, including (it's a safe bet) on adoption. Does that make Giuliani as good on Gay issues as the leading Democrats? Hardly. His support is tepid in some areas and, as HRC showed, the Democrats have committed to specific progress central to our equality.

Still, we should call Foreman out for his doomsday rhetoric about the GOP. Shame on the Task Force for bemoaning the influence of the religious right on Republicans and then screwing over with big red X's the first leading Republican who has stood up for us.

Chris Crain is former editor of the Washington Blade, Southern Voice, and Gay publications in three other cities. He can be reached via his blog at www.citizencrain.com

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