One of the more divisive issues in our communities today is the future of LGBT rights. Marriage is at the forefront of this issue. Whether you are for or against the rights of homosexuals to marry, the topic is hotly debated in just about every political arena.
Other issues the LGBT community are fighting for include inheritance rights and hospital visitation rights. Without the ability to marry, if one partner in a homosexual relationship dies, then the surviving partner doesn't have the tax benefits on the inheritance that a similar heterosexual couple would have. And if a LGBT partner is hospitalized, the other partner may not have visitation rights if the family disagrees...something that would obviously never be possible to happen against a spouse in a heterosexual marriage.
Over the last few years the fight for LGBT rights has become the civil rights issue of the generation. There have been great advances in the fight. A handful of states have started to allow gay marriage. Hate crimes laws now include acts against homosexuals. The public attitude has become welcoming enough that many that formerly would have stayed in the closet for their entire life are now comfortable coming out at an early age.
The obstacles yet to overcome far outweigh the advances, though. While many now feel comfortable coming out that may not have, by doing so they face the potential to face dangerous bullying issues...especially while still of school age. Entire segments of the population still fight against homosexuality; they fight over things like why people are gay and they fight over what rights the LGBT community may have. They do everything they can do to "keep the gay away."
In politics, the fight is just as grand. The Republicans, with little exception, fight with all their might to prevent LGBTs from having any kind of benefits at all. For the most part, the gay community responds by rarely voting Republican. And who can blame them?
Confusingly to me, though, the LGBTs turn their support to the Democrats. While the Democrats don't go out of their way to fight against gay rights, they sure don't go out of their way to support them, either. It feels like the LGBTs just choose to vote for the lesser of two evils.
Examples? Let's start with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Which Republican signed this bill that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and also keeps states from having to recognize a gay marriage performed in another state (despite the constitutional requirement to do so)? No Republican at all. The bill was signed by Democrat Bill Clinton in 1996.
And what Republican signed into law Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT)? Again, none. The bill was signed into law by...you guessed it...Democrat Bill Clinton in 1993.
But, wait! Democrat President Barack Obama got rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell, didn't he?!? Yes, he did. But let's look at how he did it. Throughout the 2008 Presidential campaign, he indicated that getting rid of DADT was a priority to him. But how much of a priority did he make it once he took office in January 2009? The answer is he didn't make it a priority at all. In fact, after he was elected we never heard him mention it again for about 18 months.
Why did he wait for 18 months to bring it back up? He had the majority in the House and the Senate. If it was REALLY a priority for Obama, all he had to do was tell his friends in Congress to get the bill on his desk, and it would have been law in very short order.
Instead, though, Obama used the LGBT community to his political advantage. He only made an issue out of it when he felt he could pick up a few votes with it. He campaigned on its importance in 2008 to get votes. Then he ignored them for nearly two years. Then it suddenly became important again in 2010 when he could again use it as leverage for votes. In the meantime, LGBTs spent two years either choosing to not serve in our military, or serving and hiding who they are. Obama made them suffer for all that time so he could pick up a few more votes for he and his party.
The same attitude is going on right now in Indiana and it's Gubernatorial race. Ask a member of the gay community what they think of Mike Pence and they are likely to despise him. After all, Pence openly fights against gay rights.
But then ask LGBTs who they're going to vote for this fall and they are likely to say John Gregg. Why? Not because he's on their side, but because he's the lesser of two evils.
As my friend an fellow blogger Mike Kole recently wrote on his blog The Kole Hard Facts of Life, John Gregg is no friend to the LGBT community. When it comes to LGBT issues, Gregg is suspiciously silent. If he does support LGBT rights, he sure isn't saying so. And he may very well be against those rights...we just don't know.
If Gregg does support LGBT rights, why would he keep quiet about it? There's only three possible reaons: A) He's embarrassed by his position; B) He feels his position could harm him politically; or C) He doesn't really support LGBT rights.
If you are LGBT, which of those makes you comfortable voting for Gregg? Do you want to vote for someone who's embarrassed to support you? Do you want to vote for someone whose principals are so low he'd hide his support for you to gain political advantage? Do you want to vote for someone who is against you? I bet the answer is "No!" to all three.
There is an Indiana Gubernatorial candidate that isn't John Gregg or Mike Pence, though. And guess what, LGBTs, he's made a public pledge to support marriage equality and LGBT rights.
That's right, Rupert Boneham is a friend to the LGBT community. He's not embarrassed by it. He stands by his principals and admits it. He will fight for you.
Circle City IN Pride this year, Rupert plans to be there all day at the Libertarian Party booth. Please stop by.