Boston Globe reports that the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker released a statement last night about the position of his running mate, Karyn Polito, on marriage equality. The Globe quotes Baker campaign spokesman Tim Buckley as saying:
Karyn supported civil unions at a time when most Republicans did not. Like many, including President Obama, Karyn’s position has evolved, and she now supports the existing [same-sex marriage] law and will not work to undo the progress achieved over the last decade.
This statement comes up short in several ways. First, same-sex marriage isn’t the be-all and end-all of the struggle for LGBT legal equality in Massachusetts. Numerous other issues remain to be addressed, including the protection of transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations. As I pointed out recently, Karyn Polito has voted against LGBT legal equality every chance she got:
During her 10 years in the state House, Polito voted for a constitutional amendment that would have defined civil marriage as exclusively heterosexual, voted against repeal of the law preventing non-resident same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts, voted against protecting transgender people under the state’s hate crimes and anti-discrimination laws, co-sponsored an anti-gay “parent’s rights” bill penned by anti-LGBT hate group president Brian Camenker, and filed an official complaint when the Registry of Motor Vehicles began allowing transgender people to change the sex designation on their drivers license without proof of sex reassignment surgery.
By speaking only of marriage equality, the Baker-Polito campaign apparently hopes that the press and the public will forget that other LGBT-related legislation is likely to be introduced during the next gubernatorial term, and that Karyn Polito’s history tells us that she will stridently oppose it.
Second, Karyn Polito wants brownie points for having supported separate-but-equal civil unions? Really? She clearly still doesn’t accept the judicial reasoning that brought marriage equality, not civil unions, to the state:
The dissimilitude between the terms ‘civil marriage’ and ‘civil union’ is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status. …For no rational reason the marriage laws of the Commonwealth discriminate against a defined class; no amount of tinkering with language will eradicate that stain. …Maintaining a second-class citizen status for same-sex couples by excluding them from the institution of civil marriage is the constitutional infirmity at issue.
And finally, saying that she will no longer oppose the marriage quality law is like saying she won’t try to stop the sun from rising. Nobody in their right mind would pretend that the Massachusetts marriage equality law can be reversed at this point. All her statement tells us is that she’s calculated the odds on that particular issue. It does nothing to assure LGBT people and our allies that she will cease opposing LGBT legal equality in other forms.
If Karyn Polito can give a convincing answer as to why it’s inappropriate to refer to transgender anti-discrimination bills as “bathroom bills“, and go on to explain why her previous vote opposing legal protections for transgender people was wrong, then I might believe that she has had a genuine change of view and intentions. Until then, it’s just more winking and nodding and hoping people will forget her long and terrible anti-LGBT voting record.