Politicians Range from Abusive to Ambiguous with LGBT CommunityTuesday, November 09, 2010 By Christina Butan '13
Three words often used to describe America are modern, fair and free. However, our political system is anything but that when it comes to issues pertaining to the LGBT community. Let’s take Carl Paladino as a prime example. The 64 year old politician was running to become the New York State governor. The one topic he had been getting recognized for throughout his campaign were his opinions on the gay community. On October 10th, 2010, Paladino held a meeting with Orthodox Jewish leaders in Borough Park, Brooklyn. During the meeting he gave an anti-gay speech that was beyond insulting to every gay out there. He said that being gay is “not the example we should be showing our children” and that he opposes the homosexual agenda, “whether they call it marriage, civil unions or domestic partnership. Marriage is between a man and a woman - period.” He also went on to criticize Andrew Cuomo, his opponent for NYS governor and the ultimate victor, for participating in the gay pride parade. The most disturbing part about Paladino’s decision to give his spite filled speech was his timing. His speech came right after several anti-gay hate crimes and the suicides of seven gay teens, who had been abused because of their sexuality. Even though his timing seemed like more than just a mere coincidence, he insisted that he was not condoning violence. "Don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way," he said. "My approach is live and let live.” Carl did not seem to realize that though he was not physically abusing the LGBT community during his speech, he was certainly verbally abusing them, which also has a serious impact. If I were running for governor and I was stupid enough to give a speech like that, I would realize that I just cut a wound into my campaign and an apology would be logical to serve as the band-aid for that wound. Only two days later on October 12th, Paladino publicly apologized and took back his hate-filled remarks to the gay community. In his apology he stated, “If elected as your governor I will stand and fight for all gay New Yorkers’ rights. I ask you for forgiveness on my poorly chosen words and the publication by others not involved with our campaign of unredacted script that did not reflect my oral statement or match my personal feelings.” There are few problems with his apology. First, he claims that his speech was in fact not entirely in his own words but rather a script he was handed by rabbis at the synagogue. He says he did not fully agree with it. If that really was the case, I think it’s questionable that he even read it or did not even base it on his own opinions. Second, a day before his apology speech, Paladino was informed by his own nephew who works for his campaign, Jeff Hannon, that he is in fact gay. Hannon was very insulted by his uncle’s words and did not show up to the campaign’s headquarters since the anti-gay speech. Is Paladino really apologizing to every gay, or just to his gay nephew who happens to work for him? Finally, he was running to be New York State governor. The man wanted to win the election with as many votes as he could get. Not that his apology will now actually help him with that, but it obviously had to be put out there, so he doesn’t seem like the “bad guy.” Carl isn’t the only politician who tries to step around the LGBT issue. Barack Obama himself seems to be conflicted over the situation. The president supports civil unions and believes it’s important that gays have the same rights in their everyday lives as heterosexual couples. Yet, even with those beliefs, he has not made same sex marriage an actual issue nor has he clearly stated what he thinks should be done about it. Michael D. Shear of The Washington Post says, “the issue of gay marriage -- and, more broadly, the issue of gay rights -- remains a sensitive one for a president who received a significant amount of support from the gay community.” What’s the hold up America? When you’ve got young gay teens committing suicide across the nation because of homophobic abuse - from California to Texas to Indiana to New Jersey - and a series of anti-gay hate crimes, actions should be taken right away. “This shouldn't be a political issue any more, when it's affecting the lives of our students, it's a human issue that needs to be dealt with,” says Melissa Dearing, a Minnesota student. I couldn’t have said it better myself.