Recently, I asked in comments what now-Senator, then-candidate Scott Brown’s position on same-sex marriage. Robert replied:
Same as Barack Obama’s. So he’s either a sensible centrist doing what he can, or a hate-filled gay-killing bigot, depending on whether you know he’s a Republican or not. :)
Chris Barron of GOProud made a similar point:
What’s the truth about Scott Brown? I will concede up front, that Scott Brown doesn’t support same-sex marriage. Brown, however, has stated that same-sex marriage in Massachusetts is settled law and that he personally supports civil unions. Brown has also said that he believes marriage is a state issue and that each state should be free to make its own law regarding same-sex marriage. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s the same position taken by President Barack Obama.
So Brown is just like Obama on gay rights? Well, no.
The difference between Brown and Coakley is even greater on homosexual issues. Brown opposes “gay marriage” and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and supports the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. [...Brown] voted for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man, one woman. The amendment was defeated. Brown does support same-sex civil unions.
Because some Republicans talk a good game but support homophobic legislation when it counts — when they’re voting — conservatives tend to reduce being pro-gay or anti-gay to purely a matter of saying the right words, without regard to the actual policies being supported.
Both President Obama and Scott Brown have taken positions that are prejudiced against LGBT people. But there is a spectrum. Obama has never voted for anti-gay legislation, and — in his mild, gutless, and basically worthless way — has stated support for ENDA, and for ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the federal non-recognition aspects of DOMA. I don’t say this to defend Obama, who I believe is bigoted against LGBT.1 But we can recognize that Obama is bad while and still recognize that Scott Brown is, in most ways, even worse.
But there are two ways Obama is worse than Brown. First: Obama, unlike Brown, harms LGBT people by sucking away LGBT activism and money with promises that he (so far) has not attempted to deliver on. Second, Obama, unlike Brown, harms LGBT by providing anti-gay Republicans with Brown with cover, because Obama’s position on marriage equality allows many anti-gay conservatives to deflect criticism by claiming to hold the same position Obama does.
- I don’t know or care if Obama is bigoted against LGBT “in his heart”; when I say he’s bigoted, I’m referring to his political actions and policies. [↩]