Santorum’s not the worst on gay issues
Republican Rick Santorum is not the most anti-gay candidate running in the presidential primary in the New Hampshire Tuesday. A candidate on the Democratic side is.
The “Democrat” is Randall Terry, the notorious right-wing founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. Terry is one of 44 candidates running in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. Most of the 44 are barely known private citizens who were willing to pay a $1,000 fee to get their names on the ballot. There are 30 running for the Republican nomination and 14 for the Democratic nomination.
Terry’s true colors showed through last month at an aptly named “Lesser-Known Presidential Candidates Forum” in Manchester. One of the panelists posing questions asked Terry if he believes in state’s rights and, related to that, whether he believes states’ rights should control on the issue of same-sex marriage. Here’s how Terry responded:
“The founders gave us the 10th Amendment,” said Terry, “to keep the federal government from micro-managing the vast majority of details that would affect us as a country. However, they could never have conceived of a moment in which we would become so debauched that we would elevate homosexual marriage or civil unions to the level of marriage, which has been with us since the dawn of time. Take it out of this debate and put it into child killing by abortion or slavery. Did the states have a right to have laws that protected slaveholders? The answer is no. There are some things that are fundamentally evil, like slavery. And there is no state right to own another human being, there is no state right to kill your offspring, and there is no state right to have homosexual marriage.”
Terry’s remarks went largely unreported but not unrewarded. He was subjected to a heavy glitter-attack from another of the Democratic candidates –Vermin Supreme, who easily wins as Tuesday’s most colorful candidate.
Supreme (yes, Vermin Supreme is his legally adopted name) is fairly well known and welcomed as a perennial presidential candidate-performance activist in New Hampshire. He dresses in colorful attire that includes a gigantic boot on his head and promises to give every American a pony and to promote good dental hygiene.
After taking a question at the December 19 forum, Supreme announced that “Jesus told me to make Randall Terry gay” and he doused Terry, who was sitting next to him on stage, with a heavy dose of glitter. (Terry, who has perhaps been subjected to this treatment before, sat still throughout the dousing and showed no reaction.)
Supreme campaigns to Republican crowds, too. He showed up Friday, January 6, to a town hall meeting hosted by Santorum in Manchester. The forum, at a family restaurant in a relatively low-income area of town, was so crowded that a fire marshal forced its organizers to move the event to the parking lot outside. Without a sound system, the crowd had trouble hearing, so Supreme offered up use of his bullhorn. The person introducing Santorum accepted Supreme’s offer even though the bullhorn was marked, in very large letters, “Vermon Supreme.” Santorum scrutinized the device and declined.
Santorum’s fondness for speaking out against same-sex marriage has definitely quieted since he tied for first in the Iowa caucuses. He made no mention of the issue at his Manchester town hall meeting. But that didn’t prevent the issue from coming up. Someone in the crowd of about 300 people who stood out in the cold parking lot for the one-hour gathering repeatedly shouted out challenges to Santorum concerning his position on gay-related issues.
When Santorum talked about “respect for life,” the man shouted out that Santorum had “no respect for the rights of gay people.” When Santorum said he wanted economic policies that are “fair,” the man shouted, “What’s fair about you going into our bedrooms?” And when Santorum complained that the Obama administration is “not allowing people to make decisions for themselves” concerning healthcare, the man shouted, “some people are not allowed to make personal decisions for themselves” concerning who to marry.
The New Hampshire crowd responded with a reaction typical in the Granite State: Occasionally, someone called out to “Let the senator speak” but it mostly ignored the man. But the resistance to Santorum’s well-known opposition to same-sex marriage still hung in the air –quite literally. One sign hovering above the heads of the gathering –held by a man— said “Marry Me, Rick.”