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For the first time in American politics, gay rights supporters are putting considerable pressure on all the candidates for President of the United States.
For the past three years, the LGBT community has been quite vocal with President Barack Obama over gay rights issues such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which was repealed this year. Obama, who is presumed to be the Democratic nominee, has done more for gay rights than any president in history, but some in the LGBT community still want him to evolve further on marriage equality.
Much attention has been focused this fall on the Republican presidential candidates and its roster of mostly Far Right candidates such as Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann. The front-runners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, haven’t been spared the tough questions either.
Public opinion is now running in favor of LGBT causes on a national level. That includes marriage equality, which remains a hot-button issue.
Individual Americans are more likely than Gay Inc. to be confronting the candidates on the issues. For example:
On Monday, Romney stopped by a diner in New Hampshire -- where same-sex marriage is legal -- and slid into a booth to talk to Vietnam veteran Bob Garon. Little did Romney know that Garon, 63, was dining out with his husband. Garon then questioned Romney over marriage equality.
On Sunday, Perry just finished speaking at a coffee house in Iowa, just hours after releasing an anti-gay video that has been widely criticized and mercilessly spoofed, when someone yelled out: “Why do you hate gay people so much?”
Last week, Bachmann was at a book-signing and leaned over a table for a photo opp with a cute boy named Elijah, as the cameras rolled. Elijah tells Bachmann that his mom is gay and that she doesn’t need fixing. Bachmann and her husband run a controversial clinic in Minnesota that tries to “turn” gays straight.
Bachmann was also confronted by a high school student in Iowa over gay rights. Bachmann told her that gays can get married … to the opposite sex.
Last week, Santorum showed his homophobia in a heated argument with a student from a Christian college in Iowa. The student’s attempt to equate same-sex marriage with interracial marriage was brushed off, and Santorum launched into a lecture on the perils of “gay sex.”
Gingrich has largely skirted gay issues on the campaign trail – and he is not for gay rights -- but he has not escaped the wrath of activist. Earlier this year, he was glitter-bombed at one of his book signings. The protester told Gingrich: "Feel the rainbow, Newt! Stop the hate. Stop anti-gay politics. It's dividing our country and it's not fixing our economy."
Collectively, these individual acts of courage in support of LGBT rights are showing the political candidates that they cannot get away any longer with anti-gay rhetoric at a time when the nation has shifted public opinion in support of equality. The dark days of gay bashing appear to be backfiring on the haters.