COMMENTARY | Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan will officially be seeking the office of vice president on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential ticket. What does this mean for gay rights activists and allies?
Unfortunately, more of Romney’s discriminatory ideals.
When Romney announced this weekend that Ryan would serve as his running mate for the 2012 presidential ticket, he drew mixed reactions from those who’d been waiting months for the decision. A USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday showed Ryan garnered the lowest reviews of any vice presidential candidate since Dan Quayle in 1988 — though, as Business Insider points out, the Bush/Quayle ticket won that year. The poll says more Americans considered Ryan either a “poor” or “fair” choice for the VP slot largely because he’s relatively unknown.
Some Democrats rejoiced at the announcement of Ryan for VP. Rachel Maddow is on the record with “Meet the Press” joking that some Democrats say they will spend their leftover fundraising money on a margarita machine to celebrate. And the LGBT Republican organization Log Cabin Republicans called Ryan a “bold and inspired pick” for the race, particularly for his commitment to addressing America’s budget crisis.
But while the economy will undoubtedly be a crucial issue in the election, gay rights are more prominent than ever — and in that arena, Ryan has little to be proud of. Openly gay members of Congress Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank criticized Ryan’s “terrible record” and claimed Romney’s move reinforced his right-wing stance.
According to a breakdown of Ryan’s voting record from OnTheIssues.org , Ryan has voted against marriage equality time and time again, both by voting “yes” on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and by constitutionally defining marriage as between a man and a woman in his state of Wisconsin and in the United States. He’s also dismissed the issue of marriage equality to media with statements like, “I don’t know why we are spending all this time talking about this.”
Ryan also voted against the repeal of the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy last year. He does not support the rights of same-sex couples to adopt kids — somewhere he and Romney disagree . He voted against the Matthew Shepard Act, legislation that now protects LGBT people from hate crimes. Ryan’s one saving grace among LGBT rights issues is his vote in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act , which would protect people from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation, but even here he and Romney disagree.
During his speech Saturday, Ryan announced proudly that, “Our rights come from nature and God, not from government.” Considering these very arguments are so often used to withhold rights from LGBT people, it’s safe to say we can’t expect anything better from a Romney/Ryan ticket.
Camille Beredjick is a journalism student at Northwestern University and the founder and sole contributor of GayWrites.org, a daily LGBT news blog.