Senator Kerry & Mr. Ogonowski on LGBT Issues

(If anyone wants a primer on the Senate race, you've got it here. No mean feat! ;-) - promoted by Bob)

A recent exchange between myself and EaBoClipper was sadly cut short because his diary scrolled off the rolls.  What we had initiated was a good old fashioned Compare & Contrast on the LGBT policies of the two major senatorial candidates, Kerry (D) and Ogonowski (R).  Because of the scrolling snafu, EaBo never had a proper chance to hold up his end of the conversation.  I re-initiate it here so that he and others can chime in.  To get us started, I’ve written what I know about the LGBT positions of K & O.

UPDATE:  Items likely to require a vote in the next session of Congress are highlighted in orange.

Ogonowski (R) (info source)

  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – Opposes.  ”We need to do away with it. They just want to serve their country, and they’re true patriots. Who cares if their sexual orientation is different from mine?”
  • Marriage Equality – Opposes.  Supports civil unions.
  • Defense of Marriage Act – ?
  • Federal Marriage Amendment – ?
  • Employment Non-Discrimination Act – ?
  • Staffing Policy – ?
  • Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (“Matthew Shepard Act”) – ?
  • Early Treatment for HIV Act – ?
  • Adoption – ?
  • Permanent Partners Immigration Act (aka Uniting American Families Act) – ?
  • The HIV Non-Discrimination in Travel and Immigration Act – ?

    Kerry (D) (info source, except marriage equality)

  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – Opposes.  Testified in front of a Senate committee in 1993 against DADT and continues to oppose it.
  • Marriage Equality – Supports Locally.  Believes that marriage equality is established law in Massachusetts and should remain so. Worked last spring with Gov. Patrick and state legislators to help defeat the discriminatory anti-equality marriage amendment.
  • Defense of Marriage Act – Opposed. In 1996, Sen. Kerry was one of only 14 senators, and the only up for re-election, to cast a vote against this discriminatory act.
  • Federal Marriage Amendment – Opposed.
  • Employment Non-Discrimination Act – Co-sponsor .  Has been voting for it since 1996.
  • Staffing Policy – Kerry has a policy prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in his Senate office.
  • Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (“Matthew Shepard Act”)- Co-sponsor.
  • Early Treatment for HIV Act – Co-sponsor.  Also supports full funding for science-based HIV prevention programs and the Ryan White CARE Act
  • Adoption – Supports giving appropriate authorities the full authority to make decisions on adoption based on the best interest of the child, without bans based solely on sexual orientation.
  • Permanent Partners Immigration Act (aka Uniting American Families Act) – Co-sponsor.
  • The HIV Non-Discrimination in Travel and Immigration Act – Supports.  Instrumental in getting it passed this week.

    I give Ogonowski props for using the term “sexual orientation”, which recognizes that sexuality is indeed an orientation, not a preference.  I also appreciate his recognition that gay people are just as patriotic and dedicated to the country as heterosexuals, and should thus be serving openly in the military.  I am disappointed at his civil unions stance because as marriage is legal in MA, he essentially is advocating for a regressive policy.  However, I recognize that among Republicans, the LGBT-related positions he has taken thus far are on the liberal side, and I respect him for his courage in taking them.  I would very much like to hear his positions on the other items listed (or others he might propose) so that we might have a more comprehensive comparison with John Kerry.  

    My initial image of Ogonowski was that he was anti-gay.  After learning the little bit I could glean on his LGBT positions from the net, I am happy to admit that I may very well have been mistaken.  What remains to be seen, however, is whether Mr. Ogonowski plans to be a proactive advocate for LGBT concerns like Senator Kerry has been.  I hope that Senator Kerry and Mr. Ogonowski will join us here, and speak on their own behalf.

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    29 Comments . Leave a comment below.
    1. The lesser evil, please

      I would bet that Ogonowski is better than his Republican opponent, Testosterone Man. A small flame war developed next door over this rivalry.

      I'd be surprised if any Republican anywhere could win a primary without at least some tut-tutting that social tolerance will unravel this country. Ogonowski might be mezza-mezza but give him a few months. Fighting Testosterone Man and his, uh, charming supporters in the media should shake the remaining Weldian tolerance out of his persona.

      • thank you for raising my blood pressure in a charming manner

        I'm having trouble sleeping. Time for a shot of Nyquil to both help with the lingering cold and the getting to bed.

    2. Slooooow Evolution

      I'm tainted because I like a lot of Kerry's work and positions. However, his staff terms his SSM views as evolving. You can insert your own joke about what humans would look like if they evolved so slowly.

      His alleged support saying he is intellectually aware it's the law around here doesn't differ from his years of saying he opposes SSM. Such support is frail and ephemeral.

      Kerry surely has considered this issue many times. If his personal religious views remain one-man/one-woman, that's his personal reality still. However, religious views should not affect public policy and should not lead to conflating ritual with civil contracts. As far as public law is concerned his religion's definition of rituals should not enter into it at all. That would be, to use the winger phrase, redefining marriage -- turning it from the civil contract it has been here from colonial times into some a religions act.

      What I expect is a series of strong statements from him on equality and civil rights. I'm not at all sure he'll evolve to that any time soon.

      I like and respect him, but he's got some evolving to do on this.

      • Kerry's position will be clear

        once he's fully given up his presidential aspirations. Kerry is on the right side of this issue, but had made an unfortunate calculation that the right side was the wrong side with regard to his presidential candidacy. In his defense (however weak), this was a calculation that most Mass. politicians made up until very recently with regard to SSM. Now the other position is a liability. Who would have thought it possible?

        • He may not be running for President

          But there will be a Democrat running, so he's still got to present a united front.  Do any Senators support SSM?

          • Ted Kennedy does.

            There are a couple others, including Russ Feingold.  Not sure who the others are.

            • Wow, I never heard that

              His wikipedia entry says "Kennedy is one of only five senators who have publicly announced support for same-sex marriage."  But there's no citation of the announcement or list of the other four Senators.  I'll keep Googling.

              It does seem strange that Kerry would not follow Kennedy's lead on this, perhaps it's because he's running in a Presidential election year.

            • Here they are

              Found it in Feingold's wiki:  "He joined Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Democrats Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Mark Dayton of Minnesota as one of only five senators to publicly announce their support for same-sex marriage."

          • SSM

            Kerry may have a problem. One of my Democratic Town Committee friends was pushing Kerry'a opponent the other night looking for signatures. John better watch out!

      • the timing of his evolution

        is indeed suspicious.  i've never seen a dem reverse themselves on a marriage equality stance, but i don't trusk kerry on this one because he's playing it half way.  but the anti-gay crowd hates him already, so he might as well just come out in favor all the way and say that he supports full civil equality for all americans.  i really can't fathom what is holding him back.  after all, the only vote on the definition of marriage he can take as a us senator he has already taken - he voted against the anti-gay federal marriage amendment.  and until he makes a definitive statement in favor of equality, he will leave doubt in people's minds, and doubt hurts at the ballot box.

        you know, it was because of kerry that i stopped contributing money to the DNC and federal candidates.  i had given a big chunk (for me) in 2004 right before he announced he was anti-equality.  well, he single-handedly ended my giving career.  he, who has indulged in 2 civil marriages said that this american shouldn't have access to civil law.  to me this meant that he thinks he is more of a citizen than i am.  bullshit!  so from my personal point of view, he has a lot of atoning to do.  speaking clearly and openly about his support for true equality would go a long way in in healing those wounds.  i like seeing evolution in people, but i am not convinced that it is real in Kerry until he commits himself in a believable way.  an unequivocal statement would suffice.

        • I'm sure if you were richer

          he'd marry you.  (You'd probably have to dress different though.)

          • zero your own blatant and hateful falsehood

            You said Kerry "said that this american shouldn't have access to civil law.  to me this meant that he thinks he is more of a citizen than i am."

            Laurel it's profoundly disturbing that you don't think you have the exact same right to marry, divorce, and marry again, as many times as you like, as any other american.  Your language is utterly false, and your thinking is self-limiting and a threat to human freedom.  There are legitimate reasons ("supportable basis") that certain relationships are not allowed to marry each other, but no person is denied the right to marry all together, nor should anyone be made to feel that they are not allowed to marry.

            As to "citizen", I don't think you have to be a citizen to marry anywhere, and I bet even illegal aliens can legally marry.

        • Stupid process comments

          I read Kerry's response as one of those stupid process comments that too many Democrats make. Stupid process comments include things like:

          • "Democrats should show we favor a strong defense policy." (Betters: articulate a defense policy and show how it is strong.)
          • Democrats should show we are welcome to people of faith. (Better: welcome people of faith)
          • We should emphasize jobs because it is a popular issue. (Better: emphasize jobs because it's the right thing to do and shut up about how it polls)

          Kerry's comments have been something like America or Massachusetts isn't ready for marriage equality yet. Stupid process comments always make Democrats like unprincipled, amateur Machiavellis. Calculating political expediency is something blogwriters should do and Senators avoid.

    3. Its interesting

      Just a decade ago a Democrat let alone a Republican would have been considered a strong gay rights proponent for backing civil unions and today the stance is marriage or nothing. On the one hand most Americans opposed civil unions a decade ago and now the majority of them support it, the support for marriage has also decreased.

      Perhaps Ogonowski could say while he does not agree with the state law it is now law and he will make no effort to change it, and say he will fight for national civil unions and against all the wacky Republican bills to limit and restrict gay rights. He should come out in favor of all those bills Laurel put ? marks next to, especially if he wants to be competitive against Kerry.

      • What do you mean?

        "...the support for marriage has also decreased." ??

      • He doesn't need all to be competitive...

        He should come out in favor of all those bills Laurel put ? marks next to, especially if he wants to be competitive against Kerry.

        I don't think he needs to be in favor of all of those ? bills to be competitive in the general election.  Remember, lots of those are bills that have already passed... they probably won't come up in a general discussion.  The "biggies" -- marriage vs. civil unions vs. no civil unions vs. no marriage for tUSA will come up.

        Honestly, I think he can punt.  He's against DOMA.  If he institutes a policy in his own office of non-discrimination, and pledges that he won't support federal anti- initiatives (DOMA et al), I think he'll do enough to satisfy folks who feel that not making things harder for gays nationally is sufficient... and honestly, I think that there are loads of "independents" for which that's sufficient, since gay rights (or civil rights in general) aren't a major issue for them when it comes time to vote.

        The good news: every pro-equality issue Ogo signs up for helps pull the debate in the direction of equality.  Even a GOP candidate who loses helps push pro-equality nationally when he or she campaigns on it.

        • i marvel

          along with you and jconway that it is no longer acceptable in MA to be an all-out anti-gay candidate.  that is a phenomenal shift.

          a nitpick, stomv.  Ogonowski opposes DADT, not DOMA.  We don't know what he thinks of DOMA.

          And I have to disagree that most of the items I've listed above are done deals that we don't need and answer from Ogonowski on. In fact, as far as I know, they are all either in-place anti-gay policies that need repealing (DOMA, DADT), are recurring bills used to regularly bludgeon gays and bring out the xtian soldier vote (FMA) or lgbt-positive pieces of legislation that need passing (the rest).  So, I think it is fair to insist on an opinion from Ogonowski on the lion's share of these items.  He will almost certainly be asked to vote on ENDA, UAFA, and Matthew Shepard Act in the next session.  It isn't enough to be a benign non-hater.  We need to know how he would vote and whether he will advocate in one direction or another.  Would he do what the GOP leadership almost certainly will tell him to do (vote anti-gay), or would he be his own man?  We deserve to know, because we already know that Kerry is his own man and has been an lion for equality.

          • not a nitpick: DADT != DOMA

            It's not that we don't need an answer from Ogo, or that you shouldn't insist on his opinion.

            Rather, it seems to me that Ogo, in trying to get votes ranging from the right to far enough in the middle to win the election, doesn't need to be clear on those issues.  After all, nobody whose support for gay rights is a dominant issue is going to vote for a Republican for US Senate -- even if he was as far toward equality as Kerry is, he'd still be caucusing with a party which uses bigotry as a major vote getter.  So, that GOP candidate would have to be more progressive on equality than Kerry, and that's just not gonna happen.

            My contention is that Ogo has to be just progressive enough on gay rights to not turn off the median voter, who frankly doesn't care much about gay rights anyway.  He doesn't need to be a rainbow warrior; he just can't come off as any more bigoted than most Massholes.

            • a fair point

              i think you may be right about ogonowski positioning himself as he has so as not to be too offensive to either side.  such calculated positioning would make him no different than the "insider" politicians he criticizes.  so much for spine in that back!

              btw, EaBo, your absolute silence in this diary only supports stomv's assessment, in my view.  you are ogonowski's number 1 booster around here, yet you can't manage even a word in a diary about his candidacy.  why not?  is it because you have nothing to say because, as stomv has suggested, ogonowski won't discuss LGBT issues further because he doesn't want to rock his delicately positioned boat?

    4. Why you should not vote for Ogonowski

      Behold the final vote on the FISA bill in the House. On the side of the angels, 213 Democrats and not a single Republican, not a one. Even Christopher Shays from Connecticut voted wrong.

      • this is why i am looking for believable evidence

        that ogonowski would vote as an individual, not as a good jr. gooper.  i think his stated LGBT-related stances are thus far great.  but i need convincing that they wouldn't go out the window on day 1.  so far, Kerry has been as good as his word on these things.

        • Even if he...

          ... honestly professes to vote as an individual.  It remains to be seen that the party would let him.  As a rule, they will let anyone in their party vote against the party as long as the votes are not enough.  Indeed they usually do the math ahead of time and give 'permission' to those who would benefit within their constituencies from such a anti-party vote.

          The likelihood of this behavior in the party to continue will only increase as their status as the minority congressional party deepens.

          • so you're saying

            that we would very shortly have footage of him stepping into the elite "senator only" elevator.  i find that likely.  but i am interested to see how he will try to convince us otherwise.  campaigning on a solid (not just DADT) pro-equality platform would tell me that there is a real spine in that back.  let's see if he has it.

    5. Good diary, as usual, Laurel

      I would be hesitant to vote for someone who does not have a record on LGBT issues, and Mr Ogonowski has too many question marks.  We know where John Kerry stands, and while he did disappoint about gay marriage, his overall record shows proactive leadership on LGBT issues.  Frankly, given Willard's comments on gay issues when he ran against Kerry and then when he ran for Gov, I'm not in the campaign-induced-remark-trusting mood.

      • One certainty...

        ... "...Mr Ogonowski has too many question marks."

        The one certainty is the "R" next to his name.  I don't consider all Rs the same, but I do consider their party monolith (see comments above).

    6. Nice exhaustive list, there

      Good job compiling a list of every LGBT-related issue you'd ever heard of, Laurel.  How do you sleep?

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