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October 18, 2011

Category: Marriage

In Wake of Federal Court Ruling, HRC Sends Letter to GOP Candidates on McCarthy-Style Investigations

10/18/11

HRC to Republican Candidates: ‘You Were Duped’ by the National Organization for Marriage
 

Washington – The Human Rights Campaign today sent letters to four Republican presidential candidates—Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum—urging each to reconsider and retract his or her pledge to investigate gay Americans. The letters were triggered by Monday’s federal court decision in Washington State.

This summer, each candidate signed a so-called “marriage pledge” sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage. Not surprisingly, the pledge called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Also included, however, was a little noticed provision calling for each candidate, if elected President, to set up a McCarthy-style presidential commission to “investigate” alleged claims of harassment and threats by LGBT Americans.

HRC President Joe Solmonese writes, “You were duped into taking a pledge that is substantively and morally empty, one which is based on claims that have been soundly rejected by even conservative federal judges. It’s doubtful that most Americans would look fondly upon a candidate whose plan is to walk into the White House with a plan to launch baseless investigations of their fellow citizens.”  
The text of the letter sent to candidates reads as follows:

This summer, you signed a pledge to the National Organization for Marriage supporting the enshrinement of discrimination in the U.S. Constitution. A Federal Marriage Amendment would deny loving and committed same-sex couples the legal recognition they deserve. As if this were not bad enough, the same pledge included a promise on your part to establish a McCarthy-like presidential commission that would investigate alleged harassment claims against opponents of marriage equality. While I would urge you to be on the right side of history and support marriage equality, the underlying assumptions behind the fourth tenant of the pledge you took have again been demonstrated to be patently false.

Anti-LGBT forces have consistently argued that they have been subjected to widespread harassment and intimidation for expressing their views. If this were true we would share equally in their concern, as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is unfortunately all too familiar with the experience of harassment and intimidation. But when NOM and their friends have had to support these baseless allegations with concrete facts in court and under oath, they have time and again been unable to do so.

This Monday, a federal judge in Washington State – appointed by George W. Bush – flatly rejected claims of harassment and intimidation made by NOM and its allies to support their efforts to keep petition signers for a 2009 referendum (on domestic partnerships) hidden from public view. The court dissected the groups’ claims one-by-one, rejecting them as speculative or even bogus. In court the “victims” either admitted that they had not been harassed or could not show that any perceived slights were related to their positions on LGBT civil rights. The court ruled that NOM and its allies had failed to show serious and widespread threats, harassment or reprisals. This decision followed from last year’s Supreme Court case, Doe v. Reed, in which even Justice Scalia strongly rejected the anti-LGBT groups’ claims.

This is not the first time a federal court has scratched its head wondering where the evidence is to support marriage equality opponents’ claims of harassment and discrimination. In California, a federal court debunked NOM’s harassment allegations pointing out that “numerous of the acts about which [NOM] complain[s] are mechanisms relied upon, both historically and lawfully, to voice dissent… This court cannot condemn those who have legally exercised their own constitutional rights in order to display their dissatisfaction with [NOM’s] cause.”

NOM has been painting the gays-are-bullies mural for a while, which of course is a tried and true practice of all anti-gay groups dating back decades. It is their loudest battle cry - and is the reason they give to fight tooth and nail through scores of lawsuits to keep their donors secret – despite popular disclosure laws that promote transparency.  Vilifying the LGBT community is part of the group’s fake victimization crusade - which has found its way into your presidential campaign.

As I hope you can appreciate now, you were duped into taking a pledge that is substantively and morally empty, one which is based on claims that have been soundly rejected by even conservative federal judges. We urge you to reconsider and retract your pledge. It’s doubtful that most Americans would look fondly upon a candidate whose plan is to walk into the White House with a plan to launch baseless investigations of their fellow citizens.

Sincerely,
Joe Solmonese

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