Where The Remaining GOP Presidential Candidates Stand On LGBT Issues

Our guest bloggers are Josh Garcia, intern forLGBT Progress, and Crosby Burns, Research Associate for LGBT Progress.

With Super Tuesday looming, the four remaining GOP candidates are scrambling for votes in Ohio, Oklahoma, and elsewhere with hopes of securing enough delegates to eventually win their party’s nomination and challenge President Obama this November.

Unfortunately, none of the Republican candidates stand for fair and equal treatment of LGBT Americans. In fact, these candidates have affirmed their support for policies that would all but guarantee discriminatory treatment of LGBT Americans in marriage, in the military, in employment, and elsewhere. For example, none of the remaining candidates support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would finally make discrimination against LGBT employees illegal.

With the clock ticking, the time has never been more important to understand the major differences between the GOP candidates on the many issues facing the LGBT community.
Legend for Table

Candidate Marriage Equality Relationship recognition DADT Repeal ENDA DOMA Repeal
Newt GingrichNewt Gingrich Former Speaker of the House opposed partial opposed unknown opposed
Ron PaulRon Paul Representative from Texas opposed unclear support opposed opposed
Mitt RomneyMitt Romney Former Governor of Massachusetts opposed partial unclear opposed opposed
Rick SantorumRick Santorum Former Junior Senator from Pennsylvania opposed opposed opposed opposed opposed

Marriage Equality and Relationship Recognition

Of the four remaining contenders for the Republican nomination, not a single one supports marriage equality for LGBT Americans.

Despite claiming that he’d “be better than Ted [Kennedy] for gay rights,” Mitt Romney has made it clear throughout the election that he ardently opposes marriage equality. For example, Romney stated in January’s New Hampshire primary debate that “I do not support same-sex marriage,” a statement that he has echoed over and over again on the campaign trail. Similarly, a November 2011 mailer from the Romney campaign boasted about the former governor’s support for a federal marriage amendment to limit marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And remarkably, last year Romney unveiled a “three-tier” marriage system that would maintain marriage for straight couples, allow current same-sex spouses to remain married, but ban all future marriages between individuals of the same sex. Generally, Romney only offers tepid support for other forms of relationship recognition, such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Thrice married Newt Gingrich has consistently stood against marriage equality for LGBT citizens. In 2012, Gingrich reiterated the notion that marriage is, “between a man and a woman,” and has said than “efforts to create alternatives” to this marriage structure are “perfectly natural pagan behaviors [that] are a fundamental violation of our civilization.” Gingrich stands against civil unions, but does support “some kind of legal rights” for same-sex couples.

Consistent with his libertarian values, Ron Paul has promoted a states-rights approach to relationship recognition, arguing that marriage is a state issue and that federal government should just “butt out.” While Paul does not support marriage equality, he has appeared to offer lukewarm support for civil unions: “If there’s a voluntary secular type contract versus a marriage contract, that’s an agreement. You can go to court to resolve the differences and the arguments over it.”

Rick Santorum’s views on whether he supports marriage equality have been more straightforward: he doesn’t. Specifically, Santorum consistently reiterates his belief that God created marriage as an institution between man and woman, which is the foundation that keeps “civilization going,” and that gay marriage was equitable to polygamy. Santorum is the only candidate to offer zero support for even civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal

Mitt Romney’s inconsistent position on LGBT issues also manifests in his statements regarding open service in the military. In 1994, Romney claimed he would be in favor of gays serving openly in the military. Yet during the 2008 election, the former Massachusetts governor expressed his support for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), which maintained the ban on open service. Romney’s position became even more complicated following DADT’s repeal when he stated that he would not support a reinstatement of the law.

Contrasting with Romney, Gingrich, who was a primary supporter of DADT in the early nineties, would reinstate DADT as commander-in-chief. Similarly, Santorum is strongly in favor of barring openly gay soldiers from serving in the military, claiming that his presidency would reinstitute the policy and that no sexual activity—whether heterosexual or homosexual—has a place in the U.S. military. Ron Paul stands alone as the only candidate that has come to support open service in the military, voting for repeal as a member of the House in late 2010.

Defense of Marriage Act

Without exception, all four GOP contenders uncompromisingly define marriage as a religious institution between a man and a woman. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Romney, Gingrich, Paul and Santorum all champion the discriminatory and anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). For example, Gingrich stated, “As President, I will vigorously enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.” Similarly many of the candidates have criticized President Obama’s determination that DOMA is unconstitutional and subsequent refusal to defend the law in court. Romney called Obama’s decision an abdication of his obligations as chief executive of the government. Santorum called Obama’s unwillingness to defend DOMA an “abomination.”