There was a time, once upon a time, when politicians could get away with bashing gay people because they were like unicorns: abstract beings that everyone whispered about, but had never seen (or knew they had anyway). My, how times have changed. Many Republican presidential hopefuls, like Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, have each taken their swipe at the mythical “gay” in this race, each appeasing the religious right anti-gay base with their declarations against this community. Each has been, in turn, confronted by actual gay and lesbian people—much to the candidates’ consternation.
First, it was Mitt Romney who chose a stereotypical-looking Vietnam veteran to cozy up to at a diner in New Hampshire. Surprise! The vet was a gay man who quizzed Romney on why his spouse should be different from any other when it comes to collecting his military pension.
Romney’s collegial tone changed the moment he realized he had encountered “teh gay” and suddenly realized he was late for some other appointment.
Rick Perry was next, confronted by a 14-year-old bisexual girl at an appearance in Iowa.
“I just want to know why you’re so opposed to gays serving openly in the military, why you want to deny them that freedom when they’re fighting and dying for your right to run for president,” Rebecka Green, a high school student from Decorah, asked Perry.
“Here’s my issue. This is about my faith, and I happen to think, you know, there are a whole host of sins,” Perry responded. “Homosexuality being one of them, and I’m a sinner and so I’m not going to be the first one to throw a stone.”
But, he would be the first to throw out “teh gay” from the military, even though “thou shalt not kill” is a pretty big sin according to that book called “The Bible.” The military seems to be in the business of breaking that one on a fairly regular basis. I imagine if being “sinless” were a requirement for military service, then we wouldn’t have to worry about a defense budget since the military wouldn’t exist.
Then, it’s Michele Bachmann’s turn. After being confronted by an 8-year-old boy (in South Carolina, no less) who told her his lesbian mommy didn’t need changing, she and her husband met up with a “gay-friendly Iowan” who confronted them on the percentage of gay people in the population.
After quoting from the famed “Kinsey Report” that 10% of the population is gay, Bachmann and her husband Marcus informed her that “Your facts are wrong,” and that the Kinsey report had been proved to be a “myth.”
Whether that’s true or not, what Romney, Perry, and Bachmann are discovering is that gay and lesbian people are not mythical creatures they can bash with impunity to win religious right votes. Instead, they are real, living, breathing, taxpaying, churchgoing, and yes, voting, people who refuse to be silent when their lives are used as political fodder.