Equal rights are allegedly a hallmark of American exceptionalism and according to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, they are guaranteed to all citizens. It is unfortunate that many Republicans disagree that all Americans should be afforded their Constitutional equal rights, but then again, during the past three years the GOP has hardly supported much of the Constitution they claim to love. Republicans are typically opposed to minority groups as a part of their ideology, and at times it appears they cannot resist an opportunity to assail Americans that are not white, Christian, rich, and heterosexual. The American people have, for the most part, transcended the homophobia that was rampant just a decade ago and view the gay community with respect as Americans and human beings, but nearly all the Republican presidential hopefuls have staked out a position contrary to the majority of Americans and plan to ignore the 14th Amendment to pursue the bible’s opposition to homosexuality.
It is true that none of the Republican presidential hopefuls have come out publicly to endorse the bible’s punitive remedy for homosexuality, but they have, on some level, promised to restrict gay rights by denying gays the right to marry the person they love and most would re-instate DADT. Perhaps the Republicans do not comprehend what equal rights mean, but regardless of their dysfunction, granting one set of rights to heterosexuals and another for gays is discrimination based on religious grounds. Although some of the Republicans openly profess their anti-gay rights positions, all of them signed a National Organization Marriage pledge to use the courts and executive office to deny equal rights to gays.
Rick Santorum is the most vocal opponent of gay rights and his opposition to same-sex marriage and support for reinstating DADT is well-documented. Santorum believes being gay is a choice. His twisted sensibilities led him to tell a group of high-school students they would be better off if their fathers were in prison and had abandoned them than if they had two mothers. Santorum cited an unnamed “anti-poverty expert” to support his remarks, but he most likely got his information from Focus on the Family rhetoric; there are studies that consistently show same-sex couples are as capable of raising children as traditional, opposite-sex couples. Mr. Santorum went so far as to compare same-sex marriage to bigamy at a campaign stop in New Hampshire where same-sex marriage is legal. Santorum also pledged to annul all same-sex marriages if elected president showing his disregard for state laws and equal rights.
Newt Gingrich distinguished himself as a vile opponent of same-sex marriage at a Republican presidential debate by claiming same-sex married couples attending the debate were just friends. Gingrich also complained that questions about gay rights are really “anti-Christian bigotry” and blasted the media and moderators at the debate. Willard Romney said that “speaker Gingrich is absolutely right” and continued that calling same-sex marriage “marriage creates a whole host of problems for families, for the law, for the practice of religion ,and for education.” Both men are wrong. The only problems are borne out of intolerance and anti-gay rhetoric that many evangelical Christians pursue and their arguments that giving same-sex couples equal rights to marry destroys traditional marriage, children, education, and religious freedom are unfounded and absolutely fallacious. But then again, Republicans have never been known for their veracity and depend on fear-mongering and misinformation to pander to the religious right.
The NOM pledge the Republican hopefuls signed is a study in religious persecution with the full weight and power of the office of the president. The signatories of the pledge, if elected president, will support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman, nominate Supreme Court justices, federal judges, and an attorney general who oppose gay marriage, vigorously defend Defense of Marriage (DOMA) in court, and establish a presidential commission to investigate and document reports of Americans who have been harassed for voting, donating, or supporting traditional marriage. The translation of the last part is a commission to punish proponents of same-sex marriage. Every Republican hopeful signed the pledge except Ron Paul, but in December, he touted an endorsement of an Omaha preacher who advocated the death penalty for homosexuals.
It is unclear why any American opposes equal rights for gays except on religious grounds. There are no plans by same-sex couples or single gays to destroy traditional marriage or deny religious freedom to Christians. What is apparent is that anti-gay groups and opponents of same-sex marriage are intent on destroying gays and their freedoms because of their biblical beliefs, and perhaps they believe gays are as vile as they are. The truth is that like most fundamentalist fanatics, they believe their religion gives them the right to impose their biblical edicts on the entire population and it is why they oppose equal rights for all Americans regardless if it is gay rights or a woman’s right to choose.
In a Gallup poll in May, a majority of Americans (53%) believed same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. It was the first time Americans supported gay marriage and only Republicans and older Americans still oppose equal rights for gays. Democrats, Independents, Liberals, and Moderates all overwhelmingly supported gay marriage, but Republicans and conservatives were less likely to support equality. It is possible that with a majority of the country supporting gay rights, Republicans and their evangelical supporters are getting desperate and see their grip on the social conscience of the country slipping away.
The Republican presidential hopefuls may get support from their bigoted fundamentalist supporters, but the mood of the nation informs that their hate-inspired position opposing equal rights for gays will haunt them if they continue promising to deny gay Americans equal rights. As the population moves forward and comprehends that the worth of a human cannot be measured by the person they love, men like Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, and Paul are going to be shunned as inhumane supporters of discrimination and opponents of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights for all Americans whether they are gay or straight. The fact that a majority of Americans support equal rights for gays is a reason to believe there is still hope for this country. In this day and age, any hope is promising and a great place to start is giving gays the same equal rights fundamentalist bigots take for granted.