Karyn Polito and Charlie Baker
Charlie Baker is running for Massachusetts governor in the tradition of his Republican predecessors like Mitt Romney: A Pragmatic Moderate Willing To Work Across Party Lines in his telling, a job-outsourcing plutocrat who's a little wiggly on social issues in reality. The social issues are key. Republicans can be elected governor in Massachusetts, but only if they're at least notionally pro-choice and, these days, pro-LGBT rights. Which is where 2014 gets interesting. Because sharing the ticket with Baker is lieutenant governor candidate Karyn Polito, and while she really doesn't want to talk about LGBT issues now, she has quite the history as a warrior against equality
In 2003, Polito tried to get a measure repealing marriage equality on the Massachusetts ballot. In 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, she voted for an anti-equality constitutional amendment as a state legislator. In 2008, she wanted to keep in place the 1913 law prohibiting people from marrying in Massachusetts if their marriages wouldn't be legal in their home states. As should be obvious from the date, it was originally an anti-miscegenation law. And there's more:
- Jan. 2009 - Polito co-sponsored an anti-LGBT 'parent's rights' bill written by Brian Camenker, the Executive Director of MassResistance. The bill established a parental notification if LGBT topics were to be discussed in schools – in any class – even if you talked about Gertrude Stein in English class. When faced with the true consequences of the bill, 15 co-sponsors asked to have their names taken off. Polito was not one of those legislators.
- Feb. 2009 – Polito, along with now Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, filed an official complaint when the Registry of Motor Vehicles began allowing transgender people to change the sex designation on their driver's license without proof of sex reassignment surgery. The complaint objected to such changes because of "constituent complaints" that were concerned about "fraud and theft." The DMV simply made a change, where people seeking a new license because of changing genders did not have to provide medical documentation any longer – but still had to provide proof of identity.
Now, Baker and Polito don't want to say anything more about LGBT rights than that they accept that marriage equality is settled law. But what about all the other rights? What about all the other forms of discrimination that states like Massachusetts should be leading the country to end? Can voters really expect Polito to be anything but dead wrong on those issues?
This is who Charlie Baker chose to run with. In Massachusetts, candidates for lieutenant governor are chosen separately from gubernatorial candidates in the primary, with the winners then voted on as a ticket in the general election. But Baker actually chose Polito as his running mate for the primary. What's more, Baker has joined Polito in dodging important questions on LGBT issues, and skipped a forum to address such questions earlier this year. Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito want voters to think that by acknowledging that marriage equality is here to stay, they've proven themselves on LGBT rights. They haven't—and they're trying to keep us from knowing what they'd do if elected.