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Views & Voices

Two major benchmarks in LGBT history will change the playing field forever

Saturday, January 14, 2012

If you sneezed last week, you might have missed them. Two major changes in the fight for LGBT equality took place — and they literally will change the playing field forever.

During the Republican presidential debate last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” before the New Hampshire primary, a new benchmark in LGBT equality — at least for Republicans — was christened. And the surprise was who set it and who shrugged it off. The frontrunner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, did the honors.

Here’s the thumbnail version.

Mitt Romney

One of the moderators quoted a pro-gay equality statement from Romney that was published in Boston’s LGBT newspaper Bay Windows, then asks Romney what he will do for nondiscrimination. (A well-phrased question, journalists should note.)

Romney, who, it seems during this nomination process has cast aside his previous limited LGBT equality record, states very clearly that he supports nondiscrimination and that, as governor, he appointed LGBT people to his administration and as judges. He then said clearly that he does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

So he answered the question and you’d think that was it, but the journalist — this guy was good — then asked: But what will you do to further the rights of LGBT people?” (Again, journalists please note the phrasing of the question.) Romney clearly says, “I just did that.” Applause. He adds that the only difference he has with the gay community is that he believes “marriage” is solely between a man and a woman. Applause from the audience again.

Here’s the surprise, and why this is a moment that will be marked as the beginning of the long road to reality for Republicans: They then went to Santorum with the question. He attempted to make a joke but it was obvious that the audience was not amused, so he sidestepped the question that has been a hallmark of his campaign. It was his chance to stand out and he knew that disparaging gays would no longer work. And so did every candidate standing up there, since no one took Romney on.

How serious of a change is this?

The Obama campaign was quick to send out a press release Monday morning suggesting that Romney was stepping away from comments made at the debate, but that was based on a 2002 flyer that Romney’s team had disavowed. Point is, the handwriting is on the wall and Republicans see the inevitable. Americans are tired of them trashing the gay community. So the frontrunner has drawn a new line in the sand: We believe in nondiscrimination up to the issue of marriage.

So enjoy the next few months and watch the dying gasps of the anti-equality Republican rhetoric, since this is the last presidential race you’ll hear it. They won’t go quietly, but Romney’s statements, if he’s nominated, make that change inevitable.

There was another change last week that needs noting, since my previous column really hit hard on that issue: Chicago’s Cardinal George comparing our community to the KKK. We congratulated the Chicago community on planning to demonstrate against the cardinal, and this column went further, suggesting that if no apology or meeting with the community happened, a look at the Church’s finances would be in order.

Guess what happened?

The church blinked, as it did in D.C. when challenged. George apologized. The community in Chicago is mixed on whether the apology was strong enough, but this is their turf, and it is imperative that the national community take note that the Church now twice has blinked when challenged.

This is a major change. While we should respect the Church and its religious views, it is also time for the Church to treat our community with that same respect. If not, we must use our tools to create a climate of respect.

Change is in the wind. It is imperative to recognize it and know how to move on to the next battle for equality. The two greatest foes of equality both shifted in one week —important benchmarks on our path to equality.

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17 more reader comments:

  1. The Republicans ONLY doing so for both publicity stunt and to get LGBT community to vote them in the office

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 3:12pm
  2. doesn’t …

    “he believes “marriage” is solely between a man and a woman.”

    directly contradict …

    ” he does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”

    refusing equal marital rights IS discrimination! time we strap this idiot to the roof of the car, and drive briskly to Canada and then show him how marriage equality and nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation is done.

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 3:19pm
  3. Too bad that journalist did not ask him if he intends to order all LGBT Americans arrested who criticize NOM http://www.nomblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Romney-Signed-Pledge.pdf

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 3:29pm
  4. Too bad that journalist did not ask Mitt Romney if he intends to order all LGBT Americans arrested who criticize NOM http://www.nomblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Romney-Signed-Pledge.pdf

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 3:31pm
  5. I have to disagree with one point here. The Church, flaunting its power and infringing on peoples personal affairs with its religious beliefs, is deserving of absolutely no respect at all. If it weren’t for the religious fangs that stretch across the face of the earth, I doubt that homophobia would still be as widespread as it is.

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 3:31pm
  6. He then said clearly that he does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

    He adds that the only difference he has with the gay community is that he believes “marriage” is solely between a man and a woman.

    I’m sorry Romney, but you just contradicted yourself. So which is it?

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 4:03pm
  7. Way to generalize people, Emanuel.

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 4:10pm
  8. how does either of those things change anything?

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 5:19pm
  9. Back in 2004 in MA Romney was negotiating and supporting Civil Unions. We had marriage under Goodridge but they were a few months from being actuated. Romney was negotiating with the LCR leader and with grasstops to take CU’s due to the risk of marriage happening. This was in my opinion a strategic move though it was pushed by Romney nonetheless.

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 5:34pm
  10. I think the church’s have given up their tax exempt privilages by stepping into the political arena, maybe they’ll help pay down the debt we are all in if their made to start paying their share !

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 6:39pm
  11. Billy, the Catholic Church and Christian Evangelical Fundamentalists are by far the largest monetary and legislative supporters of anti-GLBT equality/marriage/civil rights legislation in the United States. In certain African countries, these same churches are active in the “kill the gays” campaigns. In Islamic countries, being GLBT is punishable by death or life in prison. Do you know how many teens and young adults are homeless because of being kick out by “religiously-zealous” parents? How many people, teens and adults, commit suicide because they can’t reconcile their “faith” and their sexuality? Organized religion has become a very, very powerful political organization, with very genuine consequences. It’s INDIVIDUAL members may be more open-minded, but the clergy/pastoral classes are hateful and homophobic to the core, and they have the pulpit/altar/stage to spew that hatred every week. Do a little more investigation into this. You might be shocked at what you find.

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 8:29pm
  12. Caden Logan-I don’t know you, but I fucking love ya! I could not agree more and I have been writing and speaking about the specific points you have brought up, since my early teens! I’m glad other people know what I know and see what I see; The TRUTH. Thank you for your post-love it!

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 9:15pm
  13. Couldn’t agree more Emanuel.

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 10:01pm
  14. “While we should respect the Church and its religious views …”

    Seriously? Why?

    I may respect individual Catholics, but the institution of the Catholic Church, a mega-powerful, super-rich corporation that spends millions upon millions of dollars to protect child molesters?

    I think not.

    Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 11:28am
  15. Segal says, “While we should respect the Church and its religious views…”

    I disagree. The Catholic Church does not deserve our respect, nor does any other religion for that matter. It deserves only scorn and contempt. Religion has spawned mass genocide. It denigrates women. It denies science and enlightenment. It is based on the fanatical rants of illiterate goat herders (sorry goat herders) from thousands of years ago. Religion belongs in the infancy of mankind. It does not deserve respect. It deserves to be placed on the trash heap with all the other gods that man has ever invented.

    Christianity is a sick and twisted cult of human sacrifice. It proposes the revolting doctrine that you are born sinful, but may be redeemed only by believing that a human sacrifice wiped away this sin. The idea that there’s another world after our own and that you must obey the church or face eternal damnation is utterly morally and intellectually false.

    Do not respect the views of these so-called churches. They are wicked and they are false. And if you don’t think that religion is your enemy, then you do not know an enemy when you see one.

    Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 3:02pm
  16. I might respect people’s right to free speech, but these religious “views” are an abomination and are denigrating and harmful to humanity. The “individuals” need to stand up and be counted, but unfortunately they are fear freaked, most likely afraid to “go to hell”. What a sad web humanity has woven by investing in such tripe.

    Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 10:58pm
  17. Exactly my point for years, that the RELIGIOUS right wing, fundamental fanatics (note the word mental is in fundamental)… are TOTALLY responsible for a lot of wars, a lot of hate, a lot of hurt, a lot of discrimination. and yes….they DO NOT DESERVE REESPECT…..AT ALL>>>>>> EVER

    Posted on Monday, January 16, 2012 at 4:53am