Metro Weekly

GOP congressional candidate features gay son in ad

nan hayworth ad

Nan Hayworth, the Republican seeking to unseat out Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in New York’s 18th Congressional District, released a television ad Wednesday featuring her gay son, marking the latest in a string of LGBT-focused GOP campaign ads this election.

“As a gay man, coming to terms with who I am wasn’t easy, but my parents love me for who I am and for whom I love,” Will Hayworth says in the 30-second ad. “So when I hear vicious negative attacks against Nan Hayworth, I have to speak out. Nan Hayworth is no extremist. She’s my mom. She’s kind. She’s compassionate. She’s always been there for me. And she’ll always be there for you.”

The ad is the latest move by a Republican candidate for Congress this election cycle to specifically target LGBT voters or voters with pro-LGBT views. In a television ad released last month, Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby of Oregon appeared alongside one of the plaintiffs who sued Oregon over the state’s same-sex marriage ban. She is facing Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, the upper chamber’s champion of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Earlier this month, Richard Tisei, an openly gay Republican running in Massachusetts’s 6th Congressional District, released an ad in which he specifically mentions his husband. In California’s 52nd Congressional District, openly gay Republican Carl DeMaio has featured his partner in an ad, and described himself as “a proud gay American” in another.

But while those candidates posses pro-LGBT views, Hayworth has faced pushback for the ad. The Human Rights Campaign, which has endorsed Maloney, described Hayworth’s ad as an attempt to gloss over her own poor record on marriage equality.

“Actions, not words, should matter most to voters, and the choice in this district is clear,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “Sean Patrick Maloney has fought tirelessly for LGBT equality, and Nan Hayworth’s record doesn’t even come close. I have no doubt she loves her son, but her policy positions put her on the wrong side of history. We need a fighter like Sean Patrick Maloney back in Congress.”

Hayworth was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and defeated by Maloney in 2012. HRC argues her record while serving in Congress is reason for voters to cast their ballots for Maloney.

According to HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for the 112th Congress, Hayworth scored a 71 percent for her support of LGBT issues. She was also a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus. In a release today, however, the nation’s largest LGBT-rights organization called out Hayworth for failing to support domestic partnership benefits for federal employees, legislation that would have provided same-sex partners of U.S. citizens equal immigration benefits, the Respect for Marriage Act and Hayworth’s decision to decline HRC’s request to come out for marriage equality. 

“Of course Nan Hayworth loves her gay son. That’s not what’s at issue here,” added David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director, in a statement. “The problem is her lack of support for legal protections provided by marriage for everyone else who isn’t lucky enough to be related to an elected official. When Nan Hayworth had the chance to be a true fighter for LGBT issues in Congress, she was AWOL.”

During a meeting with the editorial board of the Poughkeepsie Journal earlier this month, Hayworth did not say she believes same-sex couples nationwide have a constitutional right to marry. “I think the federal government should not impose a definition of marriage on the states and I think every state is proceeding as it should,” Hayworth said. “I think if you get married in one state it should be honored in every other state.”

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.