After two Republican debates, on Tuesday October 13, CNN Cable Network broadcast the first Democratic Presidential Debate. It clearly showed on many levels the differences between the two parties, and the level of substance and professionalism shown by the Democratic aspirants was clearly missing in the reality show drama that was the GOP contest.
For trans people the difference between the parties is very clear, but on the surface, based on the Democratic CNN debate, one might not know how stark the difference is between Democrats and Republicans.
The moderator, Anderson Cooper, generally received high marks for being very well-prepared, willing and able to ask follow-up questions when warranted and didn't offer up one question that might be considered frivolous or fluffy. However many in the LGBT community wonder why Cooper, an out gay man did not ask a single question regarding LGBT policy. In the course of the debate only one candidate, Secretary Clinton, actually mentioned the need for LGBT rights in a general statement.
So, where do the Democrats stand?
Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders, and Governor O'Malley have come out explicitly in favor of the comprehensive and inclusive Equality Act. That law would finally outlaw discrimination against LGBT people basically everywhere? -- in employment, housing, public education, public accommodations, access to federal funding and credit, and in the jury system. Senator Sanders is a sponsor, Former Senator Webb was a sponsor of the inclusive ENDA when he was a US Senator.
In her address to HRC staff and supporters, Clinton spoke of transgender people and said banning them from serving in the military "is an outdated rule -- especially since you and I know that there are transgender people in uniform right now." Adding " Now we pride ourselves on having the world's best military -- but being the best doesn't just mean having the best-trained forces or biggest arsenal. It also means being a leader on issues like this -- on who we respect enough to let serve with dignity as themselves." Governor Chafee came out in favor of open trans service in the military on the day he launched his campaign.
This week we saw that Governor Chafee and Senator Webb dropped out the Democratic race for President, and Vice President Biden, an outspoken supporter of full LGBT equality, announced that he would not be a candidate for President. So we now have three candidates, Clinton, Sanders and O'Malley.
Meanwhile on the Republican side, there are over a dozen apparent homophobes and/or transphobes still in the running. The polls indicate that the clear leaders as we near the end of October are political outsiders, the fast talking Donald Trump and the slow-talking Dr. Ben Carson.
Donald Trump has said that he is "evolving on gay rights," does believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. When he owned the Miss Universe beauty pageant, he allowed a transgender woman to compete for Miss Canada in that pageant.
After Trump, it goes down hill very fast
Ben Carson -- As far as the new Iowa front runner, Hillary Clinton noted at a recent HRC breakfast that "Ben Carson says that marriage equality is what caused the fall of the Roman empire." Ben Carson keynoted an event hosted by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) -- an anti-LGBT hate group that is notorious for inventing a fake story about a transgender teen harassing people in a public restroom.
Do we need to say any more about him? Ooo-wooo-ooo! Carson may be a competent surgeon, but take him out of the operating room, he appears to be quite at home in the Twilight Zone!
"Low energy" Jeb Bush had been Governor of Florida has hinted at actions with wishy washy statements or non statements that may endear him to Log Cabin Republicans, but while he was Governor, LGBT Floridians had no statewide civil rights protections and his Republican successors have kept his legacy. Actions "trump" wishy washy words.
While some try and position first term Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as a moderate -- but he's not when it comes to LGBT equality.
Rubio served as the keynote speaker at a right-wing conference held by a group that advocates for so-called ex-gay therapy -- the scientifically discredited practice that has been outlawed for use on minors in California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. While Rubio's speech itself steered clear of direct mention of LGBT people, his address was bookended by videos from the host group's president denigrating marriage equality, gay Boy Scouts, and warning about the supposed "dangers" of transgender people who want to be teachers.
Mike Huckabee hasn't been shy about sharing his views on transgender people, joking earlier this year that he would have called himself a woman in high school if it meant he could shower with the girls. When asked about transgenders being able to join the United States military soon, he said, "The military is not a social experiment. The purpose of the military is kill people and break things."
Republican Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) were three of Eight Senators who voted not to event consider the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a bill that protects victims of domestic violence and is LGBT inclusive. They voted against it when I finally did come up for a vote and despite their efforts, it passed -- handily in a bi-partisan effort.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) defended the rights of private businesses to deny some services to same-sex couples and expressed discomfort at providing non-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals
Probably the most dangerous is the one who sells himself as the most moderate, Ohio Governor John Kasich. As a congressman he voted against everything LGBT. When he ran for Governor he told a major newspaper's editorial board that he would honor Democratic Governor Strickland's executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees. Kasich knows how to be divisive, when elected he issued an executive order to protect gays and lesbians, but left out the "gender identity" language screwing Ohio's transgender employees!
Donald Trump who has consistently derided Jeb Bush for being "low energy" complained about having to perform for three hours on the CNBC debate and demanded that it only be 2 hours. Hillary put up with 11 hours at last week's Benghazi hearings and showed great stamina, sharpness and wit! Oh... the contrasts!
This blog post has barely scratched the surface of negative and hurtful words and actual votes and actions by all these Republican hopefuls.