Marriage equality support Ann Kuster (D) unseated Rep. Charlie Bass (R) (Credit: David Lane / Union Leader)
In endorsing anti-LGBT Mitt Romney earlier this year, a spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans explained that the group believes “we should never make the perfect the enemy of the good.” In endorsing a slate of 13 Congressional incumbents with an average Human Rights Campaign score of 38 percent, they lived up to that belief. But voters defeated six of those incumbents, replacing them with Democrats who are full-fledged supporters of marriage equality.
Just one Congressional Republican — Log Cabin Republican endorsee Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) — has endorsed marriage equality. Rather than just endorse her and other challengers who were willing to endorse equality, the group backed some candidates who were literally 0s on equality.
In the past, the Log Cabin Republicans have argued that “to attain substantial legislative progress, we need votes from both sides of the aisle — Republican and Democrat.” But these six defeats of so-called “pro-equality champions” show voters in moderate districts preferred candidates who support the LGBT community 100 percent.
The six defeated fair-weathered “allies” were:
1. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). Brown, who was among the ThinkProgress Anti-LGBT Dirty Dozen Senate candidates based on his opposition to same-sex unions and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, lost to Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren by a 54 to 46 margin. Warren strongly backed marriage equality throughout her campaign and prominently featured her support for LGBT equality on her campaign website. Brown continues to oppose marriage equality even though same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since the 2003 Goodridge v. Department of Public Health ruling by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.
2. Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH). Bass, who earned just a 15 percent HRC score for his second stint in Congress, was defeated by Ann Kuster by a 50 to 45 margin. Kuster signed Freedom to Marry’s pledge to support marriage equality and noted on her campaign website that she believed the government should stay out of questions “including whom to marry, when and whether to bear a child and how to raise kind and compassionate children.” Bass has not backed marriage equality even though same-sex marriage has been legal in New Hampshire since the governor signed a marriage equality bill into law in 2009.
3. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL). Biggert was defeated by former Rep. Bill Foster by a 58 to 42 margin. Biggert expressed in the campaign that she was “close to reaching for gay marriages” but did not yet support them. Foster hit her for her opposition, noting that he was “not ambiguous” in his support for equality. “She has not yet evolved. So, she’s crawling out of the swamp or something… I’m all dry, fluffed off and happy to be a hominid.”
4. Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA). Bono Mack, though supportive of her openly-transgender step-son, steadfastly refused to back marriage equality. She lost to Raul Ruiz, by a 52 to 48 margin. Ruiz frequently made his support for LGBT equality part of his campaign stump speech and highlighted on his campaign website: “I believe that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of who they love or their gender, religion, or race. I support the equal rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry who they love. We need to move our policies towards those which advocate fairness and equality for all.”
5. Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL). Dold, who voted for LGBT equality just 35 percent of the time in his lone House term, was defeated by Brad Schneider, by a 50.5 to 49.5 margin. Before the Chicago Tribune editorial board, Dold argued that marriage should be reserved for only opposite-sex couples. Schneider, on his campaign website page on LGBT equality wrote: “I believe that two people who desire to make a lifelong commitment to build a future together should have the right to do so, and it should be called ‘marriage,’ plain and simple. Only by extending the full and complete rights, benefits, and protections that flow from marriage can we claim that all people and families are truly equal. I strongly hold that all Americans should be entitled to the unconditional right to marry, regardless of sexual orientation.”
6. Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY). Hayworth, who refused to back marriage equality despite having an openly gay son and being a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, lost to Sean Patrick Maloney, by a 52 to 48 margin. Though Hayworth’s home state of New York made same-sex marriage legal in 2011 through legislation, she continued to refused to back marriage equality. Maloney, who is openly gay, is a strong proponent of marriage equality who helped push for its enactment in the state legislature. Maloney attacked Hayworth for her lack of support for the state law and for her silence on the issue.
Polls now show the majority of Americans support marriage equality and voters in all four states considering the same-sex marriage questions on Election Day voted in favor of LGBT families. These six races show that voters in “swing” districts will no longer give a free pass to those who are occasionally for equality; when given the option to elect someone who stands firmly for LGBT rights, they are choosing perfect over mediocre.