WASHINGTON -- GOP House candidate Nan Hayworth released a new ad Wednesday featuring her son, who is gay, assuring voters that his mother is not an "extremist."
"As a gay man, coming to terms with who I am wasn't easy, but my parents love me for who I am and for whom I love," says her son, Will, in the ad. "So when I hear vicious negative attacks against Nan Hayworth, I have to speak out. Nan Hayworth is no extremist. She's my mom. She's kind. She's compassionate. She's always been there for me. And she'll always be there for you."
Hayworth is attempting to defeat Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) in New York's 18th District. Maloney, who is gay, ousted Hayworth from the seat in 2012.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, was unimpressed with Hayworth's new ad. In a statement, the group criticized Hayworth for her policy positions, saying that just because she has a gay son doesn't mean she's a champion of LGBT rights.
"Of course Nan Hayworth loves her gay son. That's not what's at issue here," said David Stacy, HRC's government affairs director. "The problem is her lack of support for legal protections provided by marriage for everyone else who isn't lucky enough to be related to an elected official. When Nan Hayworth had the chance to be a true fighter for LGBT issues in Congress, she was AWOL."
HRC added that while in office, Hayworth refused to support marriage equality when the group asked her to do so. She also did not sign on to legislation that would have repealed the federal ban on same-sex marriage, and did not back a bill that would have extended the immigration benefits that heterosexual couples receive to same-sex partners of U.S. citizens.
But she did earn praise from LGBT groups for signing on as a cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. She also was one of the lawmakers who introduced the Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act to end the taxation of employer-provided health insurance for domestic partners. At the time, HRC put out a press release praising her bill.
Hayworth and Maloney recently met with the Poukeepsie Journal's editorial board, and the issue of marriage equality came up. Hayworth said she supported the Supreme Court's ruling this month that left in place lower court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in a number of states. But she added that the "federal government should not impose a definition" of marriage, indicating that she still opposes marriage equality at the federal level.
Hayworth also said, however, that states should recognize same-sex marriages performed legally elsewhere.
"If you get married in one state, it should be honored in every other state," she said.
Maloney responded that Hayworth was in favor of allowing states to deprive him and his husband of their rights.
"She supports the ability of states that now discriminate to continue to do so," he replied.
In the 112th Congress, Hayworth had a 71 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign. While that score ranked her ahead of most of her GOP colleagues on LGBT rights, she came in below every Democratic member of the state's congressional delegation.
This piece has been updated with additional information on Hayworth's record on LGBT issues.
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