Tenth in a series examining how anti-LGBT Senate candidates have worked to hurt the cause of equality.
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) was appointed last year by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) to fill the vacancy created by Sen. John Ensign’s (R) resignation. He is currently running for a full term and is being challenged by Rep. Shelley Berkley (D). Unlike Berkley, a consistent 100% supporter of full LGBT equality, Heller has opposed the LGBT community at every opportunity since coming to Congress .
Though he had a reputation as a relatively moderate state legislator in the early 1990s, his record over his two-and-a-half terms in the U.S. House and his year in the U.S. Senate paints a different picture:
1. Heller has opposed marriage equality and even domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples — but no longer wants to talk about it. In 2006, Heller said on his campaign website that he “supports traditional marriage between one man and one woman and will work to defend Nevada values in Congress.” This year, he reaffirmed his belief that “marriage is between one man and one woman” and said he “would not support changing that.” But, he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “I don’t want it to be the issue in the campaign. I truly don’t want this to be the issue.” He also voted for a 2007 amendment restricting the District of Columbia government from using any federal funding to provide domestic partnership benefits.
3. Heller thinks it should be legal to fire someone just for being gay. He voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007, which would have banned employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
4. Heller opposed letting LGBT servicemembers serve openly. He voted against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal twice in 2010. In 2009 he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he supported continuing the discriminatory policy.
5. Heller has been a total zero on LGBT equality. Over the course of the 110th and 111th Congresses, the Human Rights Campaign rated him as voting against the interests of the LGBT community 100 percent of the time.
Though Heller doesn’t want equality for LGBT Nevadans to be an issue in the campaign, he does acknowledge that voters face a “stark choice” between his right-wing approach and his opponent’s progressive views. Watch him explain:
With his consistent opposition to LGBT equality, Heller’s election to a full term in the U.S. Senate would be a huge threat to LGBT people and families.