Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), whose recent comments comparing homosexuality to incest, adultery, bigamy, and polygamy have engendered huge controversy, received an ironic thank-you from a national leader in the gay rights movement during a panel discussion on gay politics in Philadelphia on Wednesday. "It helps," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of the Freedom to Marry Project. "Any time we have a discussion about gay people--the wrongness of excluding people from marriage and the deeper agenda of our opponents--we benefit."
The panel discussion was part of the Philadelphia-based Equality Forum, a weeklong symposium and festival, running through Sunday, that brings together GLBT activists from around the world. The discussion centered on "the inside game" of lobbying the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature for an inclusive hate-crimes law. Panelists agreed that a key to future legislative success is portraying views like Santorum's as outside Pennsylvania's mainstream while educating rural lawmakers who may be unfamiliar with gay people.