by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Whenever a GOP candidate spouts off anti-Gay hate, I know I'm not the only one who wonders, 'Are they for real? Do they really believe what they say?' Their political party's collective ignorance about the lives of LGBT Americans is evident every time they give a speech and tie our community into issues that have nothing to do with us - for example, when they claim that we are ruining the sanctity of marriage (even though we cannot legally marry on a federal level), destroying the nation with our homosexual agenda (which consists only of securing equality), and more degenerate statements I can't bring myself to repeat. At times, the hateful and ridiculous words from these Republicans are downright sad. One would like to think that, as we say goodbye to 2011, we should see the exit of anti-Gay sentiment in the United States. It's a nice thought, anyway.
But the truth is, we find ourselves just weeks away from the Iowa primary, and the anti-Gay speech is in full swing - ratcheted up, even. Well, we - the LGBT community and our supporters - seem to be fed up. And if Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney aren't getting the message of 'Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Homophobia has got to go!' they should. One by one, in city after city, members of the LGBT community have stood up at town hall meetings - on their own, without the direction of national Gay advocacy groups - to ask the tough questions, confronted candidates on camera in diners about their anti-LGBT views, and sent a clear message that we, the Gay people of the United States of America, intend to hold the candidates accountable for their attempts to strip away the rights we have worked so hard to achieve.
'YOU CAN'T TRUST HIM'
Last week, Seattle Gay News ran a story about Bob Garon, the Gay 63-year-old Vietnam veteran who put Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the hot seat over same-sex marriage in a Manchester, New Hampshire, diner. You gotta love this fiery guy. He was relentless (yet respectful) in the face of a man who would not treat him with the same regard because Garon is Gay.
Garon's wish is simple, yet unobtainable thanks to the Republican Party's unhealthy obsession with halting Gay marriages around the nation. He would like to see New Hampshire's same-sex marriage law (passed in December 2009) remain untouched by Republican lawmakers, who are currently kicking around the idea of repealing it.
Romney doesn't want the law to remain. He told Garon he supports a repeal of the law because he believes that marriage is a relationship between a man and woman - nothing new there, except for the fact that, with cameras rolling, Garon pressed the issue until Romney was whisked away by an assistant. 'You can't trust him,' the Gay veteran later exclaimed to reporters.
What I love most about that interaction was that Romney saw an older white male with a Vietnam veteran ball cap on and instantly thought, 'Ally!' Boy, was he wrong. And the fact that Garon was brave enough to go on camera and confront the politician over something that is near and dear to his heart is nothing short of admirable.
Garon is not a director at HRC or the Task Force. He is not a young man running for a city seat as an openly Gay politician backed by campaign money. He is simply an out Gay senior citizen who wants a politician to tell it like it is and be honest. For Garon - and, I suspect, many other LGBT Americans - Romney is not that politician.
'HERE'S MY ISSUE. THIS IS ABOUT MY FAITH'
Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has not remained immune to questions from our community. Over the weekend, while on the campaign trail in Decorah, Iowa, a 14-year-old openly Bisexual girl collared Perry after his town hall and challenged him to explain the reasoning behind his belief that Gays should not serve openly in the military.
'I just want to know why you're so opposed to Gays serving openly in the military, why you want to deny them that freedom when they're fighting and dying for your right to run for president,' Rebecka Green, a high school student, asked the Texas governor.
'Here's my issue. This is about my faith, and I happen to think, you know, there are a whole host of sins. Homosexuality being one of them, and I'm a sinner and so I'm not going to be the first one to throw a stone,' Perry said.
'I don't agree that open Gays should be serving in the military. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was working, and my position is just like I told a guy yesterday, he said, 'How would you feel if one of your children was Gay?' I said I'd feel the same way. I hate the sin, but I love the sinner, but having them openly serve in the military, I happen to think as a commander in chief of some 20,000-plus people in the military, is not good public policy, and this president was forced by his base to change that policy, and I don't think it was good policy, and I don't think people in the military thought it was good policy.'
Once again, with cameras rolling, the press was more than happy to speak with Green about her views and why she confronted Perry about the issue.
'I'm openly Bisexual and I don't want to be told that if I wanted to serve in the military that I couldn't, and I just think that policy is completely ridiculous. & I just don't like it,' Green said. 'Him or nobody should be able to tell somebody who they can or can't love.'
The wonderful twist in this story is that Perry was unaware that Green was Bisexual when she approached him with the question. Green did not approach Perry with an army of rainbow-flag-waving activists chanting, 'Gay is good!' and throwing glitter on him. Instead, one-on-one, she looked him in the eye and asked him to explain himself. Although the teen did not get the answer she would've liked to hear, she forced the Republican to publicly state that he bases his political decisions on his faith. I guess Perry wants us to hate the Party and not the politician?
GINGRICH TO GAY IOWAN: VOTE FOR OBAMA
Newt Gingrich's star is falling as quickly as it rose in the Republican race for a nominee. Over the course of the past few days, he's managed to open his mouth, effectively letting all of the ignorance spew out.
Case in point: Gingrich told a Gay man and longtime Oskaloosa, Iowa, resident that he should vote for President Obama. The man, Scott Arnold, an adjunct professor of writing at William Penn University, asked Gingrich about how he plans to engage Gay Americans, given his stance on same-sex marriage.
In other words, Gingrich said that if you disagree with him, then you'd better just vote for someone else. He wasn't even willing to speak with Arnold in hopes of explaining himself.
'When you ask somebody a question and you expect them to support all Americans and have everyone's general interest, it's a little bit frustrating and disheartening when you're told to support the other side - that he doesn't need your support,' Arnold said.
The kicker in all of this is that Newt Gingrich, who doesn't think that LGBT Americans should be able to legally wed, has been married three times, two marriages ending after Gingrich's adulterous behavior.
KINSEY REPORT A 'MYTH'
There's no love lost between Michele Bachmann and Gay-rights activists. It is no secret that Gays do not get along with Bachmann and her husband, Marcus.
The Bachmanns are our worst nightmare. They do not like LGBT people, do not believe we should have equal rights, oppose same-sex marriage, and own a clinic that has come under scrutiny for reportedly telling homosexual patients to 'pray away the Gay' in order to become straight again.
The Republican presidential candidate was confronted at a pizza restaurant in Clarion, Iowa, when Kathy Schnell, an LGBT advocate, told Bachmann it was likely that several of her foster children were Gay.
Schnell approached the Bachmann's at the campaign event with a sign that said 'Gay-friendly Iowan.'
'I was wondering if you would sign my sign?' she asked Bachmann on Sunday.
'Gay-friendly Iowan?' a smiling Bachmann asked before signing it.
Schnell continued, 'I wonder if you're aware that 10% of the population is Gay. And if you have 28 children, then 2.8 of those kids are very likely Gay.'
The Minnesota congresswoman and her husband have five biological children, and have fostered 23 kids.
Bachmann tried to ignore Schnell at first, but eventually replied.
'Well that's according to the Kinsey Report,' she said, referring to Dr. Alfred Kinsey, who came up with a study that concluded approximately 10% of people in the general population are Gay.
Her husband chimed in, 'Your facts are wrong. It's been a myth for many years.'
The encounter comes just weeks after an 8-year-old boy approached Bachmann and said, 'My mommy, Miss Bachmann, my mommy's Gay, but she doesn't need fixing.'
SANTORUM: GAY PEOPLE HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS
Rick Santorum, by many accounts the craziest of all the GOP candidates (which is really saying something), has said that LGBT Americans have equal rights.
On December 20, Santorum received the personal endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader, a religious conservative watchdog organization that strongly opposes same-sex marriage.
Santorum (as did Bachmann and Perry) signed the group's controversial 14-point anti-Gay marriage pledge which asked each candidate to 'vigorously' oppose marriage equality, be faithful to his or her own spouse, and vow to protect women and children from pornography.
He then appeared on Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.
When the host asked Santorum how he planned to get the Gay vote given his views on same-sex marriage, he responded, 'Well, look, I have nothing against Gay people. They have rights of every other citizen. But what they did in Iowa and what some are trying to do - not all Gays, but some, are trying to do - is change the laws of this country with respect to what the definition of marriage is.'
'If there are differences, I'm certainly going to speak out on those differences when I think it's in the best interest of our country to have laws that reflect having men and women raise children and form solid marriage bonds,' he added.
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