The choice becomes even clearer

Posted on 17 Aug 2012 at 9:45am

After Romney picks Ryan, Dems add marriage equality to platform, it’s hard to imagine how any LGBT person could vote GOP this year

Romney.Ryan

TROUBLING TICKET  | Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, and his vice presidential running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., arrive at a campaign rally Sunday, Aug. 12, in Mooresville, N.C., at the NASCAR Technical Institute. (Associated Press)

Republican Mitt Romey’s selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as a running mate has stolen the media spotlight for the past few days and will continue to be a distraction until the Republican National Convention.

In case you’re wondering, Ryan comes down against us on almost every LGBT issue you can imagine.

He opposes same-sex marriage, he defends discrimination against same-sex couples as a freedom-of-religion issue. He refused to include sexual orientation and gender identity in his congressional office’s nondiscrimination policy.  He voted against federal hate crimes legislation that includes LGBT protections.

Meanwhile, there is another story that should have our full attention, and that is the activities of the Democratic Party’s Platform Committee.

The committee met in Detroit last week, drafting the new Democratic Party platform, and it is something every LGBT American should take note of.

The blog Buzzfeed first broke the news of the language that got my attention. The following paragraphs almost made me cry.  I hope they will make it into the final language of the platform.

“We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

“We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.”

This would be momentous, since it is the first time such language endorsing same-sex marriage has ever made it into a party platform on the national level. Additionally, another couple of paragraphs were leaked that directly address the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“We know that putting America back to work is job one, and we are committed to ensuring Americans do not face employment discrimination. We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to ensuring all Americans are treated fairly. This administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and we must continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth. The President’s record, from ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in full cooperation with our military leadership, to passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to ensuring same-sex couples can visit each other in the hospital, reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to pursue happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love.”

For those of you who might not know, the Republican platform, at least in Texas, takes the polar opposite view: No marriage, no protections, no acknowledgement of LGBT people except to condemn us, saying homosexuality “tears at the fabric of society.”

 And yes, I know the Democratic platform has not yet received final approval, and the exact wording could theoretically still change, but these four proposed paragraphs make one thing clear: The Democratic Party takes the LGBT community seriously.
More importantly, they are with us in our fight for equal rights and protections under the law.

So let me just make this short and sweet. Take stock of what the Republican Party has done for LGBT Americans in the past — oh, let’s say, century! Then compare that to the past four years of the Obama administration and ask yourself, why would any LGBT person vote Republican? That‘s a question you will have to ask the Log Cabin folks.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Platform contains four paragraphs that could change our world forever.  It’s a welcome change in my book.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 17, 2012.

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