Better Know An Anti-LGBT Senate Candidate: The Dirty Dozen

Over the past several weeks, ThinkProgess LGBT has highlighted 12 anti-LGBT Senate candidates running in the 2012 elections. Each has worked to hurt the cause of equality and each is running against an opponent with a record of support for LGBT Americans.

Here are the ThinkProgress Anti-LGBT Dirty Dozen:

ARIZONA: Rep. Jeff Flake (R). Though he was one of 35 Republicans in the House to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007 (after voting to kill the measure moments before in a procedural vote), but did so only after protections for transgender Americans had been removed from the measure. He refused to support the 2010 transgender-inclusive version of the bill because he claimed those protections made it “too nebulous” and said he thought gender-identity protections would be “too difficult to implement for business owners to respond to.” Worse, he refused to even adopt a non-discrimination policy against LGBT discrimination for employees in his own Congressional office. After spending a week alone on a deserted island, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he took the trip because he “felt like a pansy.” A spokesman later said Flake “didn’t realize that that word can have a negative connotation.”

FLORIDA: Rep. Connie Mack IV (R). A May campaign press release touted a “Social Conservatives for Mack Coalition” including several leaders of the 2008 Florida anti-gay marriage amendment proponents’ group. The text slammed Mack’s then-primary opponent for allegedly being “an early and vocal supporter of the gay agenda.” Mack’s lone pro-LGBT vote over his House career was a 2009 procedural vote during consideration of the hate crimes bill.


HAWAII: former Gov. Linda Lingle (R). In 2010, Lingle vetoed a civil unions bill that passed the state legislature, arguing that it was “essentially marriage by another name,” and should be decided by referendum. Making matters worse, she invited LGBT activists to attend her announcement ceremony, only to devastate them with her decision. Donald L. Bentz, executive director of Equality Hawaii, told ThinkProgress that Lingle made “an inhumane spectacle.” In a 1997 interview, she argued that marriage discrimination will always be permissible because it is currently popular, saying marriage equality “cannot ever be adopted in Hawaii because the people don’t support it. They simply don’t support it.”

MASSACHUSETTS: Sen. Scott Brown (R). In 2001, he told the Boston Globe it was “not normal” for two women to have children. His comments — focused at then-State Sen. Cheryl Jacques and her domestic partner Jennifer Chrisler — also belittled Jacques’ “alleged family responsibilities.” While he later backed off of what he called a “wrong choice of a word that is probably going to crucify me,” Brown has to this day never directly apologized to Jacques and Chrisler. Brown refused to be in the Massachusetts delegation’s “It Gets Better” anti-suicide video and was one of just three state senators to oppose repeal of a 1913 anti-interracial marriage law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney used to prevent out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts.

MICHIGAN: Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R). At least nine times, he signed on as a co-sponsor of anti-equality measures including the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, a proposal to amend the U.S. constitution to prevent states from voluntarily recognizing same-sex unions, and a radical proposal to take away the right of same-sex couples to challenge discriminatory laws in state or federal courts. In his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Hoekstra ran an ad in which Focus on the Family Founder and anti-LGBT activist James Dobson praises him for supporting “traditional marriage.”

MISSOURI: Rep. Todd Akin (R). He argued on the House floor that marriage is only “about a love that can bear children,” and warned that “anybody who knows something about the history of the human race knows that there is no civilization which has condoned homosexual marriage widely and openly that has long survived.” He called Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal “an eclipse of reason” and “the imposition of somebody’s social agenda that they want to impose on the military,” and criticized President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality as an “unquenchable desire to tear down the traditional family unit brick by brick.”

MONTANA: Rep. Denny Rehberg (R). In 2008, after Idaho’s Sen. Larry Craig (R) plead guilty to lewd conduct involving a male police officer in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport restroom, Rehberg decided to leave a care-package for Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID). On a congressional trip to the Middle East, Rehberg reportedly left “a stuffed sheep with gloves attached to it, a Village People CD, books on cross-dressing and sign language and a T-shirt that reads, ‘My senator may not be gay, but my governor is Butch.’” The governor of Idaho’s name is C.L. “Butch” Otter. A spokesman claimed “no offense was intended,” Rehberg boasted that he was proud of the travel package and “spent a bit of time putting the things together.” At his Senate campaign kickoff, he told supporters: “I will never, ever, ever be ashamed to stand for the life of the unborn child and the sanctity of traditional marriage.”

NEVADA: Sen. Dean Heller (R). 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 has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign for his House tenure.

NEW MEXICO: former Rep. Heather Wilson (R). Throughout her career, Wilson has repeatedly noted that though she tolerates LGBT people, she doesn’t much like having to do so. “With respect to homosexuality,” she told ABC News in 2006, “there are things I’m willing to tolerate that I’m not willing to approve of.” She has also opposed anti-bullying laws, comparing anti-gay bullying to mere “teasing.

OHIO: State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R). Mandel told a Tea Party rally in July that he would “protect the sanctity of marriage,” adding that “this is a fight that I will never, ever back down.” In May, he told the conservative Human Events that “Ohioans demonstrated in ’04 their support for traditional marriage when they overwhelming voted for an amendment saying just this. That’s my position, and it is an issue in this [Senate] race.” As a state representative, Mandel voted against a bill to made it illegal to discriminate against LGBT Ohioans in hiring, firing, and housing decisions based purely on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Ironically, a Mandel spokesman claimed in 2011 that “Josh has always opposed discrimination against any American citizen.”

VIRGINIA: former Sen. George Allen (R). In a 1994 radio broadcast, then-Gov. Allen told listeners that he didn’t want his children “even seeing the news of some of these things here, thinking that, this is acceptable behavior.” He added: “I don’t think this is acceptable behavior… and as a matter of government policy I don’t think we should condone that sort of behavior.” In the same broadcast, he praised Virginia’s unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law –which made private consensual sex between same-sex adults a felony — saying “It’s against the criminal law in Virginia, that homosexual acts are illegal, and I think should stay illegal.” Perhaps unaware that President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law in 2009, on Allen’s current campaign website he bizarrely promises to “vote against adding sexual orientation to federal hate crimes statutes, as he did in 2005.”

WISCONSIN: former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R). Thompson’s opposition to LGBT equality dates back nearly three decades. In his successful 1986 campaign to for Governor of Wisconsin, he repeatedly pledged to eliminate his predecessor’s Council on Lesbian and Gay Issues. Dick Wagner, who co-chaired the council, told ThinkProgress that Thompson did not reauthorize the Council on Lesbian and Gay Issues but “did continue the Bicycle Coordinating Council.” During a 2007 Republican presidential primary debate, Thompson was asked whether employers who believe “homosexuality is immoral” should be allowed to fire gay employees. Thompson forcefully responded that “business people have to make their own determination” on whether to fire employees based on sexual orientation. A day later, he reversed himself, saying “I didn’t hear the question properly and I apologize.”