Bob Dole recently turned down campaign contributions, and I must tell you that I totally support that actions on his part - not because they were gay, but because they were stupid. What the hell is a gay Republican? 'We disapprove of our own lifestyle!'Gay Republican groups like GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) are searching their souls this weekend, looking for reasons why their organizations should support Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate. By searching the way back machine, they found that Rep. Ryan voted in favor of the passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act in 2007. Based on thin ingredients, GOProud and the LCR have baked up a cake that reads "Paul Ryan supports LGBT Americans." There is only one problem with this.
- Paula Poundstone, Comic Relief 1996.
The cake is a lie.
When Democrats won the House back in 2006 after twelve years in the minority, along with a functional majority in the Senate, the prospects for passage of ENDA looked strong. Rep. Barney Frank's (D-MA) final bill did not include protections for transgendered citizens - a concession to gain moderate and conservative support - but it was still an advance in rights for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities. On the evening of November 7, 2007, the House engaged in a passionate debate of the bill. Some conservative members were concerned that ENDA was a Trojan horse attempt to force marriage equality upon the country. Minor concessions were made in the wording, and the bill passed the House 235-184. Among the 35 Republicans who helped put the bill over the top were Florida's Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, California's Mary Bono Mack, Connecticut's Chris Shays - and Wisconsin's Paul Ryan.
In light of this support, Ryan scored a whopping 10 (out of 100) [.pdf] on the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) Congressional scorecard for the 110th Congress. (The Diaz-Balarts each scored 30, Bono Mack scored 55, and Shays notched a perfect score in the 110th.) Ryan's average HRC score for the last five Congresses is 2. This weekend, GOProud and the LRC both cited Ryan's 2007 vote for ENDA as the one LGBT-specific issue influencing their support for him.
Congressman Ryan’s 2007 vote in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and his consistent willingness to engage with Log Cabin on a range of issues speaks to his record as a fair-minded policymaker.
- Log Cabin Republicans news release, August 11, 2012
Paul Ryan opposes discrimination against gay Americans – voting for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – and has urged both parties to avoid the culture wars over issues like gay marriage.What these groups missed in their scoring and press releases is that they all examined the wrong vote. While it is true that Rep. Ryan voted in favor of H.R. 3685, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, just five minutes earlier he voted to use a parliamentary maneuver to kill the bill. When it became apparent that Republicans were afraid to debate the issues of LGBT discrimination on the merits, Rep. Frank rose and let them have it. [Frank speaks at the beginning of the video; the remainder shows the two roll call votes.]
GOProud news release, August 11, 2012
What you have is a ploy by people who want to keep discrimination on the books, who want to deny protection to so many vulnerable victims of discrimination, but at least they understand that that is not something you can say explicitly. So they give us this sham.After Frank's passionate and emotional defense of ENDA, Rep. Ryan still voted to kill the bill, to keep discrimination on the books without having to argue about it in the light of day. Then, minutes later, he voted for final passage of ENDA and scored his ten points with HRC. If Rep. Ryan had had his way, ENDA would have been killed without anyone going on record for or against it. HRC, GOProud and the LRC are focusing on the wrong vote. It was the vote before that, roll call 1056, that matters - and Rep. Ryan was squarely against ENDA.
When you hear anyone say that Rep. Ryan favored or favors ENDA, and therefore is good for LGBT Americans, be sure to tell them the truth - that the cake is a lie.