Monday, April 19, 2010

It's Not Just About Gay Marriage

Charlie Baker  swamped opponent Christy Mihos at the Republican Convention in Massachusetts Saturday.  Mihos won't even be on the ballot in the fall. 

On the surface, this looks like good news for LGBT people.  Baker supports same-sex marriage.  His running mate, Richard Tisei, is openly gay. We should be excited, shouldn't we?

Not so fast.  Full disclosure here: a relative who is very close to me is transgendered.  I have seen first hand the agony of someone living in a world that is hostile toward a trangendered identity.  So I was completely turned off by Baker's answer to a question about transgendered rights.

According to a number of news sources, Baker faced a revolt among the right wing of the party because of his running mate's support of a transgender rights bill.  These social conservatives passed out a flyer that contended that the bill would allow men to enter women’s bathrooms.  They demanded to know whether Baker supported the bill. The Baker campaign immediately circulated a leaflet saying he would veto the “bathroom bill’’ if he were elected.  The "bathroom bill." Could the Baker team have been any more dismissive or even mean spirited? 

The issue could have hurt Baker since right before the vote, political opportunist Christy Mihos told the crowd (to great applause) that he would veto "the bathroom bill."

At a press conference after Baker won the convention’s endorsement, he told the press (with his running mate by his side) that he opposed the legislation and was not concerned about labeling it “the bathroom bill’’ — a term used by opponents of gay rights.
WHen asked if he was trying to court conservatives, Baker said, “I think a guy who supports gay marriage and is prochoice and has been pretty clear on those and picked a gay fella as his running mate is pretty much not pandering to much of anybody,’’ Baker said, putting a hand on Tisei’s shoulder.

Sorry Charlie.  I don't agree.  Supporting same-sex marriage in Massachusetts is about as courageous as supporting speed limits.  Even Scott Brown, one of the loudest anti-marriage equality voices in the Massachusetts senate, abandoned his opposition in order to win his senate seat.

We can't be content with progress for gays and lesbians if our transgendered brothers and sisters are being left behind.

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