As Some Candidates Try to Duck, HRC Unveils Website Highlighting GOP Candidates’ Record

by HRC Staff

WASHINGTON – As potential Republican candidates gather this week in Washington, D.C. for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released a new microsite 2016: Republican Facts that will serve as an online resource for documenting the record and rhetoric of potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates, and where they stand on key LGBT issues.

 Some three years after the RNC “autopsy” concluded that candidates need to “demonstrate they care” about LGBT Americans, candidates instead appear to prefer avoiding LGBT issues entirely. The New York Times reported recently that despite a looming Supreme Court Ruling on marriage equality, “notably, from those who are likely to seek the Republican presidential nomination — there was silence late last week.”

“For those committed to LGBT equality, actions speak louder than words,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC’s Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “It’s unfortunate that a field with so many Republican candidates is so united against basic LGBT rights, from marriage equality to protecting LGBT Americans from discrimination.”

The second phase of the project will cover the positions of potential Democratic candidates on LGBT issues. As a resource to journalists, HRC’s website highlights the public statements of candidates on key issues, including:

 ·         Support for marriage equality

·         Support for non-discrimination bills

·         Opposition to dangerous conversion therapy

·         History of harmful rhetoric

·         Support for the right of LGBT Americans to adopt

 As candidates evolve and expand their positions on LGBT issues, and as the field expands this research will be updated to take into account their most recent publicly available statements. Additions, questions and suggestions can be sent to

 Highlights on Where Prospective GOP Candidates Stand on the Issues:

Jeb Bush As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush consistently opposed marriage equality for LGBT Americans. And he showed a willingness to appoint staff and contribute money to causes that had strong anti-equality agendas. Marriage: As governor, Bush said he believed marriage was between “one man” and “one woman” and eventually supported amending Florida’s constitution to oppose same-sex marriage. Under Bush, the #FLGOP spent thousands on the amendment.   Discrimination: When asked by a potential LGBT employee about his policy on hiring LGBT people, Bush suggested the employee should stay closeted. He has a history of opposing protections for LGBT Americans as “special legal rights,” and while he now says he believes in preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation, he has not said whether he supports ENDA.  Executive Order: Unclear Conversion Therapy: Unclear Harmful Rhetoric: Bush called marriage and partner benefits for LGBT Americans “special rights.” Adoption: Bush opposed allowing LGBT couples to adopt as governor. After it was made legal through a court decision, Bush said he respected the decision. Anti-Bullying: Set up Commission on Bullying after student committed suicide. [Download Full Research Brief]

Chris Christie As governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has shown a mixed record, opposing marriage equality for LGBT couples, but under his tenure, equality has advanced in New Jersey in other, uneven ways.  Marriage: As governor, Christie has drawn a consistent line opposing marriage equality. He vetoed a bill that would have allowed same-sex marriages to proceed in New Jersey, and even after a court ruling allowed same-sex marriages, said he opposed marriage equality – Christie favors civil unions for LGBT couples instead. Christie has stated he stopped defending New Jersey’s same-sex marriage ban because “when I know I’ve been defeated, you don’t bang your head against the wall anymore and spend taxpayer money to do it.” Nevertheless, same-sex marriage became legal in New Jersey under Chris Christie’s watch. Discrimination:  Suggested he supported New Jersey’s existing laws that protect LGBT residents from workplace and housing discrimination. Executive Order: Unclear Conversion Therapy: Christie signed into law a ban on conversion therapy in New Jersey, and has stated that he agrees with the American Psychological Association that the practice exposes children to serious health risks. HarmfulRhetoric:  Unlike many candidates, Christie has generally said that he believes sexual orientation is determined at birth.  Adoption: Christie has ducked the question on adoption by same-sex couples, and vetoed a bill that would have relaxed restrictions on surrogate pregnancies.  Anti-Bullying: Christie was credited with signing one of the “toughest” anti-bullying measures in the country.   [DownloadFull Research Brief]

Ted Cruz Whether the issue is marriage or protection from discrimination, Sen. Ted Cruz has consistently opposed equality for LGBT Americans. And he’s gone even further, attacking fellow Republicans for marching in pride parades, and using his opposition to marriage to win his first Senate campaign. Marriage: Ted Cruz led the charge to deny Texas couples marriage equality. In the Senate, he has supported a constitutional amendment that would prevent the federal government from recognizing marriage equality. Discrimination: Cruz has consistently opposed granting protections to LGBT Americans. Cruz has opposed both local ordinances in Texas that would protect LGBT Americans, and ENDA’s explicit federal workplace protections. Executive Order: Unclear Conversion Therapy: Cruz has refused to speak out against “conversion therapy” that coerces minors into “treatment” that can lead to depression and suicide. HarmfulRhetoric: Cruz has no problem about using equality as a wedge issue against fellow Republicans – he’s attacked Republicans for appearing in gay pride parades and suggested that he believes being gay is a “choice.” He even bragged about intervening in a case to stop a civil union. Adoption: Unclear  Anti-Bullying: Unclear [DownloadFull Research Brief]

Mike Huckabee Mike Huckabee has been a staunch opponent of LGBT equality, dating back to when he first burst onto the public scene in the 1990s and declared that “we should isolate the carriers” of HIV and that HIV/AIDS research received “an unfair share of federal dollars.” Huckabee has since tried to walk those comments back, but he’s maintained opposition to LGBT equality on every issue that has come before him. Marriage: Huckabee opposes marriage equality and has suggested judges who rule in favor of it should be impeached. Discrimination: Huckabee has argued against local ordinances that would protect LGBT Americans from discrimination. Executive Order: Unclear  Conversion Therapy: Huckabee has supported dangerous “conversion therapy” that coerces minors into ‘treatment’ that can lead to depression and suicide. HatefulRhetoric: In opposing marriage equality, Huckabee said in 2010, “We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn’t work the same.”. Adoption: Huckabee opposed allowing gay and transgender Americans to adopt children, because “children aren’t puppies.” Anti-Bullying: Unclear   [DownloadFull Research Brief]

Rand Paul While Rand Paul has spent the last year as a potential presidential candidate suggesting his party needs to be more open to LGBT Americans, as senator he has staked out a consistent record against equality.  Marriage: As a candidate in 2010, Paul said he was committed to supporting a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.  He later suggested that marriage should be left to the states to decide, so that opponents of marriage equality could keep fighting the issue for “decades,” even if that means “New York State may have gay marriage, but Alabama not.” Discrimination: As a candidate, Paul completed a Christian Coalition voter guide saying he was committed to fighting against efforts to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.  On the same day he claimed to have a “zero tolerance” policy against discrimination, he voted against ENDA, which would explicitly protect LGBT workers from workplace discrimination. Paul even skipped a committee hearing on his own amendment to ENDA. Executive Order: Committed to repealing all of President Obama’s executive orders, including one that explicitly protects LGBT workers from discrimination.  Conversion Therapy: Unclear HarmfulRhetoric:  Paul joked that President Obama’s views on marriage couldn’t “get any gayer” and then suggested that marriage equality would lead to people marrying non-human objects.  Adoption: Unclear Anti-Bullying: Unclear  [DownloadFull Research Brief]

Marco Rubio Whether the issue is marriage equality or protecting workers from discrimination, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has consistently opposed giving LGBT Americans equal treatment.  Marriage: Rubio has consistently opposed marriage equality. He’s made a special point to correct press reports that suggest he is open to marriage equality. And he even thanked Speaker John Boehner for spending taxpayer dollars to protect the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Discrimination: As a candidate, Rubio said he opposed including sexual orientation under civil rights laws. Despite claiming he opposed discrimination, Rubio voted against ENDA, which would give LGBT Americans explicit protection from discrimination in the workplace. And he threatened to oppose his own immigration bill if it included same-sex couples. Executive Order: Unclear Conversion Therapy: Rubio has raised money in Florida for a key backer of conversion therapy. HarmfulRhetoric: Rubio has recorded robocalls for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which named him a “real marriage” champion. He has helped raised money for the Florida Family Policy Council, whose leader said that being gay is an “artificial, social construct” that is “dangerous.” Adoption: Rubio opposes allowing LGBT couples to adopt because children shouldn’t “be part of a social experiment.”  Anti-Bullying: Unclear  [DownloadFull Research Brief]

Scott Walker While Scott Walker may claim that he doesn’t want to campaign on issues like marriage as a potential presidential candidate, the reality is that he has a history –  both as governor, and in prior offices –  of working to obstruct and even roll back basic rights for LGBT Americans.  Marriage: Walker has consistently opposed marriage equality. He supported the original constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, supported an appeal that would have prevented same-sex marriages, and affirmed his opposition to marriage equality in a letter after they were made legal in Wisconsin. Discrimination:  As County Executive, Walker opposed even basic rights for LGBT couples, like visitation rights. As governor, Walker tried to roll back the state’s domestic partner registry by dismissing the state attorneys hired to defend the program. Walker said that the U.S. House should take up a vote on ENDA, which would give LGBT Americans explicit protections from discrimination in the workplace. But he repealed a bill that protected state workers from wage discrimination based on sex. Executive Order: Unclear Conversion Therapy: Unclear HarmfulRhetoric:  Walker proposed eliminating an HIV/AIDS prevention program by saying that HIV/AIDS prevention was not a “core function” of government.  Walker campaigned on his opposition to creating a basic domestic partner registry for LGBT residents, and then later said that voters were not demanding marriage equality. Adoption: Unclear Anti-Bullying: Unclear [DownloadFull Research Brief]

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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