Two women greatly shaped my political views: my grandmother, who taught me to vote Democratic as long as the party supports “the people;” and the late Sen. Frances Farley, who believed politicians should engage with voters and openly discuss issues. (It was on her congressional campaign 30 years ago that I met a young Michael Aaron!)
In a few weeks, the people of America will go to the polls. Since matters specific to LGBT families are seldom discussed, I approached all the candidates running in the 4th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Jim Matheson, to see where they stand on these important issues.
Through their spokespeople, both the Democratic and Republican candidates declined to be interviewed. At least they had the courtesy to answer. The Libertarian and American Independent candidates simply didn’t respond to numerous requests. (I won’t provide free press by providing the candidates’ names.)
However, Collin Robert Simonsen, the standard bearer of the Constitution Party did have the intestinal fortitude to answer such gut-wrenchingly difficult questions like, “Do you favor or oppose marriage equality?” and “What, if any, legislation would you sponsor to protect the rights of LGBT parents?”
So what did he say?
Do you favor or oppose marriage equality? “I have promised to support the party line, which is to encourage one man and one woman as the only legal marriage. But if that is not upheld in the Supreme Court, then I would support civil unions for everyone (regardless of orientation) without carrying the connotation of sexuality with it.”
What, if any, legislation would you sponsor to protect the rights of LGBT parents? “Give me some ideas. I am not in favor of hate-crimes legislation because I believe that harming a person should be punished equally no matter what your motivation. Anti-discrimination laws in housing or the workplace seem like good ideas, unless it is an apartment or business run from your home. I would allow people to be racist, anti-gay or anti-Mormon in their own homes, but not in their commercial apartment building or at Walmart. I would be in favor of laws outlawing discrimination against gays for being gay, but not for refusing to take part in a ceremony, wedding or celebration of a gay relationship. Forcing someone to support something that they disapprove of is not fair, in my opinion.”
Why should LGBT parents vote for you? “First, my party is the only party that really understands what the founders were trying to do in setting up a government that would protect the rights of individuals and that would be resistant to tyranny. Secondly, we have a problem of father-absenteeism in this country. Many scientific studies show that children do better with a father in the home than without. I think that there are measures we can take to encourage fathers to be present for their children. I think that this is something that both LGBT individuals and myself can work together to address without the bad feelings of the marriage debate.”
There you have it—the responses from the only candidate courageous enough to take a stand. Will I vote for him? No. Although impressed he was willing to express his viewpoints and discuss why he holds them, he’s not the candidate for me.
There are some good candidates running: Donna McAleer would be a great Congresswoman and Charles Stormont an excellent Attorney General. Here in Salt Lake County, Sheriff Jim Winder and District Attorney Sim Gill really deserve our support.
But in the 4th Congressional District for whom will I vote? I don’t know. The Democratic candidate fails my grandmother’s test, which I recognize is subjective. But all the candidates, save Simonsen, fell short of Farley’s standards. And that’s simply not acceptable.