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Taking on Mary

Taking on Mary


For eight years Sonny's widow has represented the gay enclave of Palm Springs, Calif., in the U.S. House--and consistently opposed simple LGBT equality. This Democrat is putting up a fight for what's right.

My name is David Roth, and I am running as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in California's 45th District. I'm running against Republican incumbent Mary Bono, who has held the office since the sudden death of her Congressional predecessor and husband, Sonny Bono, in January 1998. The district is incredibly diverse and includes the burgeoning LGBT communities in Palm Springs and Cathedral City. The district also includes heavy concentrations of conservatives, independents, and Latinos--any of whom may, of course, also be gay.

Those in the LGBT community understandably want to know my take on such issues as marriage equality (in favor), immigration equality (in favor), or gays in the military (I oppose discrimination of any sort). What I always explain to those who ask these questions is that my solid stand with the LGBT community on these issues comes from a strong bias in favor of personal privacy and against government intrusion into those most basic areas of a person's life.

I learned early as a child that society did not think my mother and father should be together. My father was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants; my mother, one of the first female Presbyterian ministers in Texas. The outside world did not think this was a match made in heaven, but it was. As a youngster, I never really understood why other busybodies cared so much about my family. Their ill-placed concern led me to conclude that our time on earth should not be spent trying to rearrange other people's lives.

I firmly believe that it is not the role of government to decide what our families should be, what they should look like, or with whom we should fall in love. I often think that what conservatives want is the smallest government possible--just small enough to fit into your bedroom.

A philosophy in favor of personal freedom is an overarching framework for me. It leads me to believe, for example, that while abortion is certainly not a favored solution, that decision belongs completely and utterly to the woman involved, and not to the Tom DeLays or Bushes of the world. Interference in our personal spheres is not what government should do.

Interestingly enough, when I meet with conservative ordinary folk, they do not ask about same-sex marriage; they ask about our burgeoning deficits. They do not ask why I oppose any discrimination against the LGBT community, including in military service; they ask about the carnage in Iraq. They do not ask why I support gay parents' adoption rights; they ask about corruption in Washington.

As Republicans conservatives gear up to vote on a bill this summer to amend the U.S. Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage nationwide, this is an important point to remember. While some conservatives are indeed "true believers," many interpret the maneuver as a cynical way to bring the right-wing Christian fundamentalists to the polls.

With primaries in June and the general election in November, there's a lesson here: If you're not registered to vote, register. If you're not registered for an absentee ballot, register--absentee voters are four times more likely to vote than voters who have to go to the polls.

As we gear up for the next battle, acquaint yourself with the candidates' stances on all LGBT issues. Does a candidate support amending the Constitution? Does a candidate support marriage equality? (Those are really two separate issues.) If your U.S. Senator or Representative was in Congress in 1996, how did he or she vote on the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act"? Does he or she support adoption rights for LGBT people? Ending discrimination by the military? Immigration equality? Does he or she vote to allow religious discrimination against the LGBT community?

Remember that ordinary folk do not appear to be as interested in "rearranging your lives" as you might think. The LGBT community has many supporters. I am proud to count myself among them.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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