Sen. Scott Brown Disses ’It Gets Better’
A year and a half ago, Scott Brown won the Massachusetts seat in the U.S. Senate left vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy and electrified the GOP. At the time, his views on GLBT equality seemed moderate; he went so far as to call marriage parity, which Massachusetts pioneered, "settled" in the state.
Since then, however -- with the exception of a vote to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" -- Brown either opposed or declined to support bills and other initiatives geared toward meeting the needs of the GLBT community. Most recently, the senator refused to join fellow members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation in making a video with an encouraging message aimed at GLBT youth.
The video was made as part of the "It Gets Better" campaign, in which gay and straight celebrities, politicians, and everyday people create messages encouraging GLBT teens not to kill themselves. Gay columnist Dan Savage and his partner launched the campaign last year in response to a rash of gay teen suicides covered in the mainstream media.
That coverage threw a spotlight on a fact that has been well known to mental health professionals and GLBT equality advocates for years: GLBT youth are far more at risk of suicidal conduct than their heterosexual peers. Studies on the neurological impact of bullied teens have demonstrated that the developing brains of youths can be physiologically altered by the sort of harassment, and even violence, that gay youths face. Advocates for anti-bullying programs and laws to protect teens from abuse say that the homophobic harassment GLBT teens suffer is a leading cause of the higher rate of suicide among young gays.
But anti-gay groups oppose anti-bullying efforts, claiming that legislation and programs designed to counter bullying disguise efforts by gays to carry out an "agenda" to recruit young heterosexuals and convert them into homosexuals -- a charge that has been leveled at the GLBT community for at least four decades, but for which no evidence exists.
Rather, mounting scientific evidence points to sexual orientation as an innate and unchangeable personal characteristic. As such, the data suggest, gays are not "abnormal" or stricken by some form of pathology, but rather are part of the realm of natural variation for human sexuality.
But Sen. Brown has not lent his support to any federal legislation meant to address the problem of homophobic bullying, noted a July 29 article at ThinkProgress.
"Brown’s spokesperson explained the rejection by saying Brown’s ’main focus right now is on creating jobs and getting our economy back on track,’ but this is only the latest example of the senator’s long history of enabling homophobia," the article said, before going on to provide a rundown of Brown’s other anti-gay actions and omissions, both before and during his tenure in the U.S. Congress.
"In 2001, he attacked state Sen. Cheryl Jacques and her domestic partner, Jennifer Chrisler, for deciding to have children, calling it ’not normal,’ though later said he chose the wrong words," the article recounted. "As a Massachusetts state senator, Brown voted twice in 2007 to ban same-sex marriage after voting for two similar amendments in 2004."
Moreover, the article said, "Brown took a ’state’s rights’ position on same-sex marriage in his campaign for U.S. Senate, but in March of 2010, Brown voted for a referendum to overturn marriage equality in the District of Columbia. This was in contradiction to previous statements leaving marriage to the states."
The article also recalled that the senator has spoken out against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that has been re-introduced to almost every legislative session of Congress for thirty years, but which has never passed.
The article also noted that Brown has relied on campaign cash from groups that specifically oppose legal parity for GLBT citizens and their families.
"Many of Brown’s electoral victories have been thanks to the support of anti-gay PACs and organizations like hate-group MassResistance and the National Organization for Marriage," noted ThinkProgress.
Brown is not alone in his refusal to offer support to suffering GLBT youth through an appearance in an "IT Gets Better" video, the article noted.
"To date, not a single elected Republican lawmaker has participated in one of the project’s anti-bullying videos," ThinkProgress reported.