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Republican party has disdain for Gay America
Republican party has disdain for Gay America
by Marc Paige - Special to the SGN

From the issue of marriage, to partnership rights, adoption rights, and the military, this year's Republican Party platform coming out of St. Paul is a clear message of disdain directed at Gay Americans. The party document unequivocally states that no respect or acknowledgement be given to Gay relationships or Gay soldiers.

It is particularly shameful that the Republican 2008 platform continues to affirm "the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service." The first U.S. soldier seriously wounded in Iraq is a Gay man. After coming out, Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva said, "I realized that I had fought and nearly died to secure rights for others that I myself was not free to enjoy." This Gay man lost his right leg serving our nation in Iraq in 2003, but the Republican Party refuses to lose its bigotry in St. Paul in 2008.

Although the discriminatory policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was signed into law 15 years ago under the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton, there is now a growing effort to do away with it and allow Gays to serve openly in the military. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act has 144 Democratic, and three Republican co-sponsors in Congress. John McCain is unmoved by this, and remains firmly against repealing DADT.

Along with Gay and Lesbian soldiers, the Republican 2008 platform also takes aim at Gay families. Negating any possibility of federal recognition and legal rights for Gay couples, it calls for a constitutional amendment "that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it." The platform tackles Gay adoptions as well, urging Massachusetts to reverse its policy of requiring religious organizations to provide adoption services to Gay and Lesbian couples.

The message from the Democratic convention is quite different. Michelle Obama told Gay delegates gathered in Denver, "we can work together to repeal laws like the 'Defense of Marriage Act' and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and we can oppose divisive constitutional amendments that would strip civil rights and benefits away from LGBT Americans because discrimination has no place in a nation founded on the promise of equality."

With the vastly different tenor towards Gay people emanating from the Democratic and Republican party platforms and conventions, it is not surprising that the running mates the two presidential candidates have chosen reflect starkly differing views regarding Gay Americans. Barack Obama has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be on his ticket. Biden has voted for Gay-supportive legislation and against anti-Gay measures nearly every time such legislation has come before the Senate during his 35-year tenure as a senator. John McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, has a limited but hostile record towards Alaska's Gay community.

At a gubernatorial debate in 2006, Palin said she supported Alaska's 1998 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but that "she's not out to judge anyone and has good friends who are Gay." Scott Tucker, director of communications for the Log Cabin Republicans, has tried to spin this as proof that "her record is not anti-Gay, and she's an inclusive leader who isn't a bigot." Joe Solomnese, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, has set the bar a little higher, saying of Palin, "when you can't even support giving our community the rights to health insurance and pension benefits, it's a frightening window into where Palin stands on equality."

As governor, Palin did veto legislation that would have kept state workers from receiving domestic partner benefits, but did so only after her attorney general advised her it would be unconstitutional to defy the Alaska Supreme Court ruling that provided those benefits. At the same time, Palin signed a bill calling for a "statewide advisory vote" on whether Alaska should deny DP benefits to Gay couples, with this special election costing the state an estimated $1.2 million. Palin supported stripping away all benefits from Gay couples because, as the Anchorage Daily News reports her saying, "I believe that honoring the family structure is that important."

Hundreds of miles separate Denver and St. Paul, but the gaps between the Democratic and Republican Party platforms, conventions, and candidates on LGBT issues are even wider. Given the huge challenges our nation faces, for politicians and a political party to waste time, energy, and resources attacking Gay Americans to try and keep us marginalized and closeted, is not only disgraceful, it is irresponsible public policy.

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