Metro Weekly

The Question: What Could Tuesday Mean for LGBT Americans?

boehner.jpgAt Metro Weekly‘s Poliglot, we asked folks at several of the LGBT organizations — on this Monday before Election Day — for their thoughts on the coming elections.

We asked:

Will life for LGBT Americans change if Republicans take back the House on Election Day, giving the speakership to Rep. John Boehner? Will it be better or worse? How so?

Here are their answers.

[Also: To follow the election on Twitter, check out my Election Day 2010 – LGBT Twitter list.]

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans:

Log Cabin Republicans are expecting sweeping wins for our party on Tuesday, especially in the House of Representatives. From coast-to-coast, our members are currently coordinating with the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (NRCC) on races of note for us, such as phone banking for Charles Djou in Hawaii or in person canvasing for Nan Hayworth in New York.

Like many voters, Log Cabin Republicans are primarily focused on the state of the economy, market growth for employment and reduction of government spending. As to Republican lead legislation in 112th Congress benefiting the gay community, we can expect the new majority leadership to include tax equity as their initial pro-equality measure. A better economy and job growth is beneficial to all Americans regardless of one’s sexual orientation.

Michael Cole, press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign:

When anti-equality forces controlled Congress for a decade (1994-2005), they stymied any progress on LGBT issues and made attacks on our community part of their governing agenda. Among their efforts were attempts to: pass a federal marriage amendment; strip courts of jurisdiction to hear LGBT rights claims; block DC’s domestic partner benefits and needle exchange programs; cut HIV/AIDS funding; increase failed abstinence-only programs; and block openly LGBT appointees. A Congress controlled by anti-equality Republican leaders could very well return to this playbook, and even go further by cutting Justice Department funds for enforcement of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act or trying to roll back Obama administration advances for LGBT people, like benefits for the partners of Foreign Service officers or hospital visitation protections. 

Under a Republican Congress, key positions that control the fate of pro-LGBT legislation would be held by notorious anti-equality legislators. Potential House leaders Reps. John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence have consistently scored a perfect zero since they came to Congress. Other leadership positions are critical as well.

Christopher Barron, chairman of the board of GOProud:

If Republicans govern as true conservatives and stay focused on the issues that got them elected then I believe life will be better for average LGBT Americans. A conservative majority in the House could and should push for social security reforms, healthcare reforms, tax reforms and other pieces of legislation that will improve the lives of LGBT people in this country.

If, however, Republicans do not govern as conservatives — if they forget why they are getting elected, then we will hold them as accountable as we have held Nancy Pelosi and the big government crowd of liberals running Congress now. Let’s be honest though, the bar for success for LGBT Americans has been set fairly low after four years of Democratic control that has produced lots of partisan rhetoric and very little in the way of tangible results.

Michael Mitchell, executive director of Stonewall Democrats:

It’s not just Rep. John Boehner I’m concerned about; it’s all the other Republicans that will be heading up committees. If our community thought it was hard to get LGBT legislation to a floor vote the last two years, I guarantee it will be much, much harder under the GOP, especially with extreme Tea Party members running some of the committees.

As one example, I’m very concerned what will happen in the committee that handles appropriations for the District of Columbia. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-3), the ranking Republican on that committee and likely committee chair if the GOP takes the House, is a vociferous opponent of marriage equality and is certain to do whatever he can to overturn marriage for same-sex couples in the nation’s capital.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

Life will change for all Americans, including LGBT Americans, under this scenario. You can expect even greater gridlock on the Hill, meaning tougher challenges moving legislation, including LGBT rights legislation. We’ve all been frustrated with Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats dragging their feet on advancing equality for LGBT people. But, John Boehner is no Nancy Pelosi.

So, yes, it will be worse. Many people already view government as dysfunction on steroids. More political tug-o-war is bound to feed that sentiment even further. Also, divisiveness can lead to inaction. Is this good for America? We don’t think so.

Robin McGehee, executive director, and Heather Cronk, managing director, of Get Equal:

Life for LGBT Americans should have changed the day that Barack Obama was sworn in. On the whole, it has not. With the Obama Administration continuing to defend “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts, we are still hunting for our fierce advocate and still living under the veil of discrimination. Obviously, if we lose the historic majority that we have enjoyed.

We will certainly not find fierce advocacy in a Speaker Boehner, so we will be forced to continue looking for a fierce advocate in President Obama. We hope that, should the White House lose its double-majority in the legislature, Election Day will be a wake-up call to act on behalf of LGBT Americans with the passion promised to us during the 2008 campaign. The targets will change, because power will shift, but our equality is a bi-partisan issue and all those who control our injustice should be held accountable, today and after this important election.


[Photo from the website of Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio).]

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