On a conference call today, prominent LGBT leaders from Massachusetts roundly condemned Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-MA) decision not to participate in a video for the It Gets Better project. Every single member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation besides Brown collaborated to make the video, which sends a hopeful message to LGBT youth who are being bullied. Sen. Brown (R-MA) was invited to be in the video, but declined. When asked about the decision, Brown spokesman Colin Reed said it was because Brown’s “main focus right now is on creating jobs.”
The LGBT leaders, including two Massachusetts lawmakers, agreed that Sen. Brown’s refusal to participate in the video sends a disturbing message to the staggering number of LGBT youth who are being bullied and harassed every day. They also said the snub was simply the latest in Brown’s long record of “being anti-LGBT friendly,” in the words of Jennifer Chrisler.
For Chrisler, the executive director of the Family Equality Council, Brown’s history of attacking gay families is personal. Brown once said it was “not normal” for Chrisler and her wife to be raising children, their twin 9-year-old boys. Chrisler said she is waiting for Brown to “walk the walk, not just talk the talk,” when it comes to LGBT issues.
Grace Stonewall, the executive director of BAGLEY (Boston Alliance of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Youth), said he showed the Massachusetts delegation video to young people in his support organization. “They were all aware Scott Brown had not participated and had the same reaction that we’re having, that he didn’t support [them].”
State Rep. Liz Malia (D), an openly gay representative from the 11th Suffolk District, served with Brown for many years in the state legislature. She said that he was never very active on legislative issues, but when then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) tried to dissolve an independent commission on gay and lesbian youth, Brown “went out of his way” to join Romney and vote against it — the only Massachusetts senator to do so. Malia notes that Brown has received tremendous support from “virulently anti-gay groups,” and has consistently voted against marriage equality and equal rights for the LGBT community. In this instance, “his absence speaks very loudly for where his true feelings are,” she says.
As for Brown’s defense that he didn’t participate because he’s so laser-focused on jobs, no one seemed to think that passed the laugh test. “We need to see that he can do more than one thing at once,” said Massachusetts Rep. Carl Sciortino (D). Stonewall pointed out that the video was “not difficult to do, it wouldn’t have taken much of his time,” so why would he “deliberately choose not to do it without a good excuse?”
Chrisler added, “I want to see the message that not only will it get better, but he‘ll get better.”