We Need to Talk About Mitt

Mitt Romney and LGBT rights

By Charlotte Capogna-Amias

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 is inching closer and closer and with each tick of the clock it feels like we are one Presidential campaign rally more polarized as a nation. I feel scared as I think about the prospects ahead.

I imagine that to this particular readership it won’t surprise or inflame you to hear that I am voting for Barack Obama. Let me be clear: I don’t love everything he’s done since being in office, or all of what he’s proposing moving forward, but he is a far better option than his contender in my opinion.

I was an undergraduate in college and lived in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was Governor of the state and although I was not fully aware of all his political views at the time, I knew enough to know that he was a moderate conservative governing a liberal state. His views on major civil rights issues, such as a woman’s right to choose, were more progressive then, with him being, if not reluctantly, “pro-choice.” This probably had more to do with the state that he was living in than his actual beliefs, but with Mitt Romney, who knows for sure? This is part of what scares me so much about Romney- he is a shape shifter. With him being the poster child for everyone from moderate conservatives all the way to far right GOP supporters, should he nail the presidency, he’s going to have to continue upholding what he promised to this wedge of the population since they got him into office.

Which brings me to LGBT issues and Mitt.

At a Republican presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa hosted by Fox News, Romney had this to say about gay marriage in August, 2011: “I believe we should have a federal amendment in the constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and woman, because I believe the ideal place to raise a child is in a home with a mom and a dad.”* This topic wasn’t addressed in the debates between Obama and Romney leading up to the election, but it didn’t need to be, we knew where both candidates stood.

As our nation becomes simultaneously more progressive around LGBT rights issues with increasingly more states upholding same-sex marriage, so is it becoming more homophobic with things like the passage of Amendment 1 in North Carolina. That means that while some states are signing up for gay marriage others are making it stone cold clear that they’re against it, so much so, they’re writing it into their state’s constitution. North Carolina is of particular personal import to me, because it’s the state where my parents, sister, brother-in-law and nieces live. It’s a state I would strongly consider moving to if it weren’t edging more towards being a state where my family feels not only not welcome, we’re not even recognized. This polarization around gay marriage is an LGBT microcosm of how polarized we are as a nation right now. With election polls in a dead heat 50/50 standstill, for queers, the erosion of our rights could fall either way come Tuesday.

Much of what was focused on in the debates and campaigns leading up to the election centered on the economy which may seem like something that has little to do with LGBT issues. Yet how do economic policies, such as tax breaks for married couples and those with dependent children, personally impact you when you’re part of a queer family? I can tell you as someone who is in a same-sex marriage and has a young child that they impact you greatly with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) firmly in place. My spouse and I have struggled substantially more with our finances since having our daughter. Although part of that is due to things like the addition of a sizable daycare bill to our budget line items, part of it is also due to not being able to all be on a family health care plan (and we live in Massachusetts!)**. I can only imagine that should Romney be elected it’s not going to look much more hopeful, at least for the next four years, for us queers.

Let’s all do a collective meditation that things will work in our favor come Tuesday while encouraging everyone we know and come in contact with to vote. I find that sharing my personal story around how Tuesday’s vote affects my family and me is a powerful piece of information for those who are still on the fence. Maybe more than any political ad, those personal stories can speak to people. Tick, tick, tick… fingers crossed.

* Republican presidential debate, Des Moines, IA, hosted by Fox News, FoxNewsInsider.com, Aug. 11, 2011

** To be clear: we actually could have been on a family health insurance plan through my employer since we are legally married. The reason we opted to not do this was because with the “imputed income” fee they slap on to same-sex partnerships come tax time the following year, we were very likely going to be paying more than if we were on different health insurance plans (even with the costly expense of doing so).

Charlotte Capogna-Amias started writing in high school and produced two DIY zines in which she had a fan base of fellow punks around the country who were also trying to make meaning of their lives through stories, rants and art. These days Charlotte studies in the Amherst Writers & Artists method and her writing on parenthood has appeared in Hip Mama magazine and the forthcoming web publication of This Bridge Called My Baby. Charlotte is the co-founder and facilitator of the Queer Non-Gestational Parents Group- a support group based in western Massachusetts. Charlotte has a Masters in Social Justice Education and works for a university support program for students who are low-income, first generation college students or have a disability. Charlotte lives in western Massachusetts with her spouse and energetic two-year-old daughter. In her spare time (that was funny), Charlotte is working with her friend and fellow blogster, Betsy Fife Archer, on a guidebook about becoming a queer, non-gestational parent. She and Betsy blog at turkeybasterandabottleofwine.wordpress.com

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