Gay Democrats, Activists Decry Senator Brown’s Anti-Gay Track Record

By: Chuck Colbert/TRT Reporter–

When Scott Brown first ran for election to the US Senate in 2010 he promised not to be “another loud and angry voice.” Rather, Brown vowed to be “an independent voice, a problem solver.”

Now in a close re-election race with presumptive Democratic Party nominee Elizabeth Warren, Brown is trumpeting in radio and TV ads not only that independent voice, but also an independent voting record.

As proof positive, Brown’s campaign points to voting only 54 percent of the time along party lines.

But gay Democrats are calling out Brown for not supporting Massachusetts LGBT residents and issues of concern to them. During a recent telephone conference call, three gay community leaders said Brown is missing in action on gay rights, if not outright anti-gay.

He “claims to be an independent voice, but his anti-equality positions are  much more in line with Mitt Romney,  Rick Santorum, and the Massachusetts Family Institute,” said Democratic state Representative Liz Malia, of the 11th Suffolk district, which includes a gay enclave of Jamaica Plain.

“Massachusetts would not have led the way on marriage equality if Scott Brown had his way,” she explained. “He voted against marriage at every turn and still supports DOMA” [the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act].

In fact, as a state lawmaker Brown voted repeatedly in the Legislature to place before voters a referendum that would have banned same-sex marriage by amending the state Constitution.

Joining Malia on the call (Thurs., May 10) was Kevin Franck, Massachusetts Democratic Party communications director, and Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council (FEC), an advocacy organization for LGBT parents and families.

The Bay State U.S. Senate race is one of the closest this year and one of the most widely watched. Recent polling data from Real Clear Politics shows Brown slightly ahead of Warren 42.6 to 42.0 percent

It was President Barack Obama’s historic full embrace of same-sex marriage rights earlier this month that prompted the press availability, said Franck.

Besides gay marriage, LGBT community leaders criticized Brown for his silence on bullying.

“Scott Brown calls himself an independent voice,” said Wes Ritchie, outreach director for MassEquality, a statewide advocacy organization. But “he has no voice at all.”

Ritchie was referring to the non-political “It Gets Better” video campaign in which elected officials, celebrities and other public figures across the county have reached out to LGBT youth with a message of hope.

Every member of the Massachusetts delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate spoke out and participated in the campaign, said Ritchie, except Brown who “chooses to have no voice at all.”

“And to put that into perspective, LGBT [young people] have a higher rates of suicide, attempted suicide, become homeless, and have higher rates of being marginalized,” Ritchie explained, citing a youth risk behavior study of the state Department of Public Health.

“When it comes to having a voice on bullying,” Ritchie said, Scott Brown “has no voice. I don’t know where he keeps it.”

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Congress is considering two federal pieces of legislation that seek to make schools safer for gay youth and those perceived to be LGBT persons.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) would require school districts receiving federal money to implement and report on anti-bullying programs. Those programs must identify bullying and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, among other enumerated characteristics. Bullying and harassment under SSIA would include cyber bullying such as e-mail or instant messaging.

U.S. Senator John Kerry and four of Massachusetts’ congressmen are SSIA co-sponsors, including U.S. Representatives Michael E. Capuano, James McGovern, Richard E. Neal, and John Oliver — but not Senator Scott Brown, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Mass Equality.

Brown, however, has publicly committed to vote for the measure when it comes to the floor.

The Student Nondiscrimination Act (SNDA) would require elementary and secondary schools not to discriminate against students on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in any program or activity that receives federal money — or risk losing those funds. Under the proposed SNDA, “discrimination” includes “bullying” and “harassment,” along with “intimidation and violence.”

Kerry, along with the entire ten-member Massachusetts congressional delegation, is an SNDA co-sponsor, but not Brown, according to the HRC and Mass Equality.

During the conference call, a WBUR reporter asked about President Obama’s evolution on gay marriage.

“Does the president’s statement bring up a distinction that might be a sharper issue of distinction?” she asked. “Has it risen to a higher level, in looking at [Massachusetts Senate] race more closely?”

“Yes,” replied Chrisler. The president’s support for equal marriage rights “raises the conversation to a higher level,” adding, “Elizabeth Warren’s stance is crystal clear and very supportive.”

The reality is, Chrisler continued, “there are a huge number of issues before the Senate and Congress that are of impact to Massachusetts LGBT residents.”

In addition to SSIA and SNDA, said Chrisler, is the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal DOMA and restore the rights of legally married same-sex couples to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law.

Other pieces of LGBT legislation include the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban bias in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or gender expression.

Another bill, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, would prohibit any public child welfare agency receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against any potential foster or adoptive family on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

Yet another bill, The Uniting American Families Act would enable U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners, called “permanent partners,” for family-based immigration.

Currently, under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents may sponsor their spouses — and other immediate family members — for immigration purposes.

But same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not considered to be “spouses,” and their partners cannot sponsor them for family-based immigration.

Altogether, Senator Brown “has a track record in the U.S. Senate of being anti-gay,” said Chrisler. “On every major LGBT bill that he has been asked to co-sponsor or sign onto he has not done that,” indicating that he “is not supportive of the things of importance to the LGBT community.”

Chrisler also said that Brown has refused to meet with the Family Equality Council to hear personally about the organization’s and gay parents’ concerns.

During her seven years serving as FEC executive director, Chrisler said she has asked Brown at least three times for a meeting — all to no avail.

“We get a polite ‘no thank you,’ we don’t need the meeting,” she said. Or “an aide says he’s too busy.”

“This points out and ongoing and troubling resistance to his willingness to be open and listen to the constituents he purports to represent and hear what’s important issues to them, Chrisler added.

Ironically, Chrisler has personal experience of Brown’s gay-unfriendly rhetoric. In 2001 during a session of the Massachusetts Legislature, Brown referred to the decision of then state Senator Cheryl Jacques, to have children as “not normal.”  He also described her parenting role as “alleged family responsibilities.”

Jacques is the wife of Chrisler. The couple is raising twin boys, with Chrisler expecting another child this summer.

While Brown has since back-peddled and acknowledged a poor word choice, he has not expressed regret to Chrisler.

“There has been no direct apology whatsoever for the comments,” she said.

But in one move widely praised by gay-rights activists, Brown voted to repeal “don’t’ ask, don’t tell,” the nearly two-decade old ban on openly gay military service.

Nonetheless, the Human Rights Campaign has endorsed Warren.

©  Copyright. Chuck Colbert. All rights reserved.

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5 Comments on "Gay Democrats, Activists Decry Senator Brown’s Anti-Gay Track Record"

  1. BIG NEWS!

    Scott Brown represents heterosexuals!

    Now that we have that out of the way, can we stop the phoney Dem spin.

    • Justin Flacker | May 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm |

      And you must be a Republican, by the sarcastic tone. I happen to like the article, as an independent LGBT man because it is the truth. Brown has done nothing for gay rights and like most Republicans, is realizing now that it may be time to flip-flop again to try to win a second term. Blah, blah, maybe you should blame all the media for reporting the same thing about democrats wanting civil rights for all & the moronic party of the rich trying to do just the opposite. Go cry me a river, will you?

  2. And Justin you must be a Democrat (or a “progressive,” yawn) by your strident, partisan tone. “Like most Republicans, is realizing now that it may be time to flip-flop again to try to win a second term… moronic party of the rich…” Blah blah blah, maybe you should just regurgitate talking points from MSNBC.

    And yeah, Lizzy Warren is not part of your hated “1%.” Sure.

    Open your mind; if you’re a so-called “progressive” on issues, then fine, vote for Fauxcohontas. But not all LGBT folk are: pro-abortion, anti-gun, pro-government health care, pro-Big Labor, for higher taxes, and more. It’s called diversity- try embracing it!

    • Justin Flacker | May 27, 2012 at 1:08 am |

      Oh, (yawn), it’s my favorite character, the guest with no name now self-named RJ, who behind a computer screen still remains nameless. And you’re giving me pointers on how to be open minded? (Laughing at how enlightening this is coming from your FOXer views, since you can’t speak for yourself, it seems).

      So, onto the reality. You are Un-American, Un-educated, Un-armed (probably can’t even get a gun), un-realistic, Un-able to give women rights, Un-nerved at the thought of diversity, with some Un-explained disorder to take my comment as lacking diversity. Kid, I am pro-people’s rights, all people, especially the most oppressed, which I imagine you don’t fall under. I am pro-health care of any kind that can get this country out of the disaster that the GOP Un-leveled heads have put us under. I don’t believe in having a system where less than 1% are in power, while the rest of us are not. Still, I believe that there are leaders that come once in a lifetime and this man, Pres. Obama, is one of them. He just can’t fulfill the expectations of people like you or almost defunct Tea Party members, read Brown. We can’t win them all, can we? So, until/unless you do your homework about people’s real struggles and what diversity really means, I wish you’d stay out of the discussion boards. I am out of your league and so is the leader of the free world, your President, you moronic sack of insidious waste. Did you think that insulting our President, talk about the lack of pride in your country and leader, would make you look good in the eyes of the nameless cowards, whom like you are nothing other than a bunch of coward racists who hide behind a few “memorized concepts” to try and sound wise and intelligent? What you propose is not diversity, you actually sound like any other divider I’ve met, in front of people you’re all about “diversity” behind closed doors, it’s one for one, and one for all. Got your game RJ, JR, Guest, or whomever you’ll be next. See you around later kiddo, when our President wins it for us and then you’ll join in too, but of course. Discourse? Try it once in a while. Whoa, but remember, you need several degrees under your belt to be able to get up here. Peace and God Bless the America we’re seeing now, with the changes that are coming and needed.

  3. Your intolerant words bespeak your ignorance and self-loathing, smallfry. You are sadly typical of many self-styled “progressives” who bleat of their tolerance, their inclusivness, their respect of and for diversity… but of course that only extends to their fellow progressive sheeple who march in lockstep. You engage in the very acts you self-righteously- and hypocritically- claim to abhor. Typical of the closed-minded, those who can only be led rather than think for themselves, think outside of their narrow, self-imposed boxes of worn-out, 60’s/70’s-style identity politics.

    None so blind as those who will not see, Justin.

    (BTW- in your ravings Justin, you go on and on about Obama, and of course come up with the lame accusation of racism, as if anyone who dare disagree with The One does so because they’re racist, yawn… but the topic of this thread and piece is the darling squaw of the Massachusetts Left, Fauxcohontas Lizzy Warren. Do try and stay on topic- if not your meds. This is too easy, like shooting fish in a barrel.)

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