It appears Jeb Bush is trying to resurrect his brother's version of compassionate conservatism when it comes to same-sex marriage and the LGBT community. He has now made various comments on the issue trying to please all sides. As a member of the LGBT community, I think it is crucial that we not accept any of his versions. We must demand that presidential candidates be willing to say either they are for civil same-sex marriage or they aren't. There is no in-between stance acceptable. The days of saying it is a local issue or not making it clear you understand it is a civil right having nothing to do with religion have long since passed.
The Washington Post reported that "Jeb Bush offered the Republican Party a new way to talk about same-sex marriage." Since 36 states and the District of Columbia now recognize same-sex marriage there can be only one way to talk about it and that is to support it unequivocally. It was very disconcerting to see a quote in the same column from Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) appear to view Bush's statement as positive. Bush's history of comments on the issue range from comparing it to 'sodomy' and currently saying, "People should accept court rulings and 'show respect' for gays in committed relationships, while reiterating his long-held belief that 'marriage is a sacred sacrament'. "
There is still no clear statement from Jeb Bush supporting civil marriage-equality. He has yet to make it clear he understands that it is a constitutional right to equality. In today's world, we should not accept anything less from any politician seeking the presidency of the United States. The Human Rights Campaign should not be in the position of giving cover to any candidate, Republican or Democrat, who won't make a clear statement of support. It must be hoped the quote from Sainz, who I have the greatest respect for, is his own and not HRC's official position on Jeb Bush. Sainz says, "That for years Republican politicians have talked about same-sex marriage with a negative tone, 'Bush put that paradigm on its head'. He provides people with a sense that he understands that there are loving gay couples who are in fact getting married."
The Human Rights Campaign has decided the time is right to go for full equality and supports introducing a comprehensive bill in congress to achieve it. They shouldn't at the same time let candidates like Jeb Bush slide by with the type of statement he has made. Our community and our allies have fought too long and hard to have people not understand their religious beliefs are irrelevant in this debate. This is civil law we are talking about and full civil rights and equality.
At a recent Center for American Progress (CAP) meeting Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced his intention to introduce a Comprehensive LGBT Non-Discrimination Act. He said he will be working with advocates and congressional partners in 2015 to draft and pass such legislation. Chad Griffin, President of HRC, was at the event and spoke eloquently about why HRC would be championing such a bill first introduced by Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug (D-NY) in 1974. Griffin said HRC believes the time is now to demand our full civil and human rights from same-sex marriage to housing, employment and every other area. It was during this meeting CAP released a major report titled "We the People" detailing the harmful effects LGBT discrimination has on individuals and communities throughout the nation.
2016 is not 2008 when we as a community still accepted candidates who weren't fully supportive of same-sex marriage. Today, when we have put an end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell and when section 3 of DOMA has been struck down by the Supreme Court; when we are close to achieving success in our marriage fight; there should be no support for anyone running for president who isn't an all-out supporter of our full civil and human rights. We need to hold each party and their possible presidential candidate's feet to the fire on these issues. The time for half-way and ambiguous support of our rights is over. If Jeb Bush needs to play a game to get the Republican nomination it isn't for our community, especially not our major national organization, to give him cover in that game.