Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has published a peculiar appeal to gay and lesbian voters in Bay Windows, New England’s alternative newspaper serving the LGBT community. The one-term senator who is in a close race for re-election against Elizabeth Warren, highlights his support for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but does not commit to advancing other equality priorities like federal employment nondiscrimination protections or marriage. “I don’t come before you with a checklist of items promising that I will be an advocate for you on each and every one of them,” Brown writes. “My opponent has already started down that road, promising to support everyone’s pet project. That’s not the way I have ever operated.”
Instead, Brown promises to get “this bad economy working again and creating jobs” — a welcome message to be sure — but one that won’t protect LGBT people from on-the-job harassment or unfair termination for being who they are. And in a community where 42 percent of LGB workers and an astonishing 90 percent of transgender workers have experienced some form of on-the-job discrimination, extending anti-discrimination protections to all is more than a mere “pet project” — it’s an outright necessity. Brown has said that “states should take care of” passing their own workplace protections, as Massachusetts has done, and refused to support a federal ban prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Confronted about his callous attitude towards LGBT priorities last month, a Brown spokesperson dismissed community concerns like marriage equality as a “social issue” and insisted that the senator is focused on the economy and job creation. But he hasn’t exactly shied away from “social” issues either. As a Massachusetts state senator, Brown voted twice in 2007 to ban same-sex marriage, opposed the right of gays and lesbians to adopt children, and even refused to participate in an “It Gets Better” video with the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. And unfortunately, his “I don’t have to worry about you” attitude is on full display in the Bay Windows editorial, as he signs off with the kind of tone-deaf nugget that shows that he truly doesn’t understand his gay and lesbian constituents: “I recognize the liberty of every citizen to live as they choose, and it is from this diversity that we derive our strength as a nation,” he writes.