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(c) by Mary Griggs

The Democratic National Convention has started so, instead of just focusing on how bad the Republican platform is for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, I can offer the contrasts with the Democratic party platform.

The Democrats come right out on affirming the civil rights of the LGBT community: “At the core of the Democratic Party is the principle that no one should face discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability status…We are committed to equal opportunity for all Americans and to making sure that every American is treated equally under the law.”

The Republicans, not so much. While they give lip service to rights (“The Republican Party, born in opposition to the denial of liberty, stands for the rights of individuals, families, faith communities, institutions…”), the rest of their platform makes very clear that the LGBT community is not included among those to be protected. Heck, the “homosexual rights agenda” is actually indicted by them for reducing the effectiveness of foreign aid!

In the entire employment section, not a word about protecting against sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination from the Republicans. On the other hand, the Democrats state: “We know that putting America back to work is Job One, and we are committed to ensuring that Americans do not face employment discrimination. We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In the education sections, the Republicans’ don’t even acknowledge one of the major causes of stress and even suicide for our young people. On the other side, they address bullying and the disparate impact on LGBT youth:  ”President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to ensuring all Americans are treated fairly. This administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and we must continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth.”

In fact, the only mention in the Republican platform of bullying or hate crimes was some nonsense about LGBT activists: “We condemn the hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage and call for a federal investigation into attempts to deny religious believers their civil rights.”

The Democratic platform flat-out supports marriage equality:

We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

While the Republicans speak a number of time of marriage, it is mainly to protect it from the LGBT community. They are against judges who ‘redefine’ (“A serious threat to our country’s constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved to other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several States.”), they defend DOMA (“we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage.”) and decry the expansion of any of the rights, responsibilities and benefits of marriage (“That is why Congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions. The current Administration’s open defiance of this constitutional principle – in its handling of immigration cases, in federal personnel benefits, in allowing a same-sex marriage at a military base, and in refusing to defend DOMA in the courts – makes a mockery of the President’s inaugural oath…We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so.”).

On families, the Republicans are for reducing the numbers of children in foster care but only mention same-sex couples as part of an attack on the right of association: “We support the First Amendment right of freedom of association of the Boy Scouts of America and other service organizations whose values are under assault and condemn the State blacklisting of religious groups which decline to arrange adoptions by same-sex couples.”

The Democratic party platform supports all parents and caregivers: “We believe that all parents and caregivers – regardless of gender – need more flexibility and support in the workplace…We must protect our most vulnerable children by supporting our foster care system, adoption programs for all caring parents, grandparents, and caregivers, and protecting children from violence and neglect.”

On the issue of HIV/AIDS, the Democrats crow about their work: “We Democrats have increased overall funding to combat HIV/AIDS to record levels and will continue our nation’s fight against HIV/AIDS. President Obama established the first-ever comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for responding to the domestic epidemic, which calls for reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care, optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. This is an evidence-based plan that is guided by science and seeks to direct resources to the communities at greatest risk, including gay men, black and Latino Americans, substance users, and others at high risk of infection.”

In stark contrast, the only mention of HIV/AIDS I could find in the Republican platform was in regards to abstinence – “Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually.” 

The Republican party platform gives every appearance on being based on the core conservative ideals of less government, more individual freedom and personal responsibility, and family values. From the examples I’ve pulled out, however, it is clear that those values wouldn’t apply to LGBT citizens.

I guess we should be grateful that the LGBT community wasn’t in its usual position of being a pinata for the RNC speakers to beat for votes. Except for Mike Huckabee, there was a resounding silence on stage about the LGBT community, startling when you remember that there are four states voting on marriage equality this election (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington).

I can’t discuss the Republicans without a mention of GOProud and Log Cabin Republicans. At every turn, the Republican party goes out of its way to attack our very existence. There is no greater example of GOProud’s and Log Cabin’s failure to represent our community than the platform itself. There are other writers who have compared them to battered spouses, who just forgive the abuse and stay for more. In my mind, however, they are collaborators. Some might say it is hard for so few to have an impact. I would say see what we’ve done on the Democratic side. In any case, it is one thing to be powerless against oppression; it is entirely another to be complicit in the evil being done to your fellow countrymen.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”