U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) has come under fire over his refusal to participate in a video for the “It Gets Better Project” that featured all other members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation.
Brown’s critics have accused him of taking part in a concerted pattern of failure to support LGBT rights, while “It Gets Better” founder Dan Savage noted that “not a single GOP elected official can bring himself or herself to make a video, or participate in the creation of one.”
All 10 U.S.House representatives from Massachusetts participated in the video released Wednesday, as did U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Brown’s office said he declined an invitation to take part.
“Sen. Brown’s absence in our congressional delegation’s video sends a message that he supports kids being bullied or harassed,” said state Rep. Carl Sciortino (D-Medford), in a press call on Thursday.
“Now, I don’t think that’s the message that Sen. Brown wants to send. I’m asking him, as a Senator for the Commonwealth, to stand up and show some leadership on behalf of his LGBT constituents, our young people that are facing violence in our schools, our young people that are being bullied in our schools.”
Sciortino noted that in 2006, when Brown was still a Massachusetts state senator, he was the only member of that body voting to uphold then-Governor Mitt Romney’s veto of a Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth.
Brown’s office on Wednesday argued that the Senator has a “strong record” on bullying and said his “main focus right now is on creating jobs and getting our economy back on track.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Thursday fired back at Brown’s critics. In an e-mail to Politico’s senior political analyst and columnist Ben Smith, NRSC communications director Brian Walsh wrote:
If, as the old saying goes, you’re known by the company you keep, than the voters of Massachusetts deserve to know who Democrat Party operatives are teaming up with to spread outrageous attacks on Scott Brown’s character.
It’s truly reached a new level of desperation in their efforts to tear down Scott Brown, but we look forward to hearing whether state and national Democrat leaders agree with Dan Savage’s long history of lewd, violent and anti-Christian rhetoric. Given their press conference call today, one has to presume at this point that they do.
Walsh wasn’t the only person to defend Brown — Eric Fehrnstrom, a political adviser to Brown offered a sharper response, telling reporters:
“Senator Brown believes all people regardless of sexual orientation should be treated with dignity and respect. He has been a leader in fighting for anti-bullying legislation at the state and federal level.
His main focus is creating jobs and getting the economy moving again. In this case, the individual behind the video has made vile and sexually crude comments about Senator Brown. It’s reprehensible for Senator Brown’s opponents to associate with this person in order to score cheap political points.”
Late Thursday afternoon, Savage released the following response:
“I am not the IGB project. The project has had the reach and impact that it’s had thanks to tens of thousands of people from all over the world who’ve participated. [A]nd no one who participates is required to crawl into bed with me.
“It is interesting, though, that not a single GOP elected official can bring himself or herself to make a video, or participate in the creation of one. No GOP elected official can risk being seen letting bullied LGBT kids know that life isn’t high school and that it will get better for them.”
Savage, who edits the Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger, is best known as an often-raunchy syndicated sex columnist and vocal LGBTQ activist who has taken aim at Republican politicians that he sees as anti-gay hate mongers — most notably former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, whose last name as been redefined throughn Google searches as the by-product of anal sex.