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On Gay Marriage:
A Letter From a GOP Mom Re: Sarah Palin

On Gay Marriage:
A Letter From a GOP Mom Re: Sarah Palin


A registered Republican from the swing state of Ohio has a few questions for Sarah Palin and John McCain on the heels of Palin's vice-presidential debate. Specifically, Kim Peters wants to know: Just how "tolerant" would a McCain White House be of Peters's lesbian daughter?

Last Thursday, during the much-anticipated vice-presidential debate between Republican Alaska governor Sarah Palin and her Democratic challenger, Sen. Joseph Biden, both candidates were asked about their views on equal benefits for lesbian and gay couples, and, in particular, their support (or lack thereof) for extending state-level domestic-partner benefits, like those in Alaska, at the federal level.

What few people realized, however, is that the question itself was flawed, and Governor Palin was allowed to take credit for progress she personally tried to prohibit.

You see, while the Alaskan supreme court ruled that the partners of state employees should indeed enjoy the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts, Governor Palin ultimately disagreed with that decision. And in a series of events as confusing as her 2008 GOP stump speech, the governor first vetoed an attempt to overrule the high court (under advisement of her state's attorney general, who told her the legislation was unconstitutional) and shortly thereafter proposed a divisive ballot measure to overturn the ruling constitutionally.

In other words, Governor Palin was for treating lesbian and gay Alaskans with dignity and respect before she was against it. And as the mother of a lesbian daughter, I think it's past time that Americans know where Palin stands.

"I am tolerant," the governor declared on Thursday, as if that would put the question to rest. But forgive me if, as a mother, I'm not entirely satisfied with her pledge to simply be "tolerant" of my daughter.

In fact, Governor Palin's response leaves those of us who care about our lesbian and gay kids with more questions than answers.

As a mother, I want my daughter to enjoy all the rights that every other American child has. And as a Republican who would like to support my party's nominee, I want a return to true conservative values of limited government and a respect for privacy.

My vote was called into doubt, though, by the events of Thursday night. With November 4 quickly approaching, it is past time for Governor Palin to set the record -- pardon the pun -- straight.

Why, for example, did neither Biden nor debate moderator Gwen Ifill step in and challenge Palin's assertion that she was somehow responsible for same-sex domestic-partner benefits in her home state? In truth, she campaigned hard to reverse the court decision that permitted those benefits, aggressively supporting a ballot initiative to strip them away. Yet no one spoke up when, on Thursday, she took credit for something she did not do, and a law she did not support.

And what, exactly, did Governor Palin mean when she told Americans on Thursday night that "no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties." Does the governor believe the power of the vice presidency gives her the authority to pick and choose which rights my daughter would be allowed to enjoy, and which ones would be denied her? Is there a list of rights and protections that would be supported in a McCain-Palin administration, and a list of those which would not be?

Granted, neither Senator Biden nor Governor Palin were willing to endorse full marriage equality, but Senator Biden, who has an admirable approval rating from the Human Rights Campaign during his time in the Senate, at least attempted to step above Palin's antigay fray.

"Look, in an Obama-Biden administration," the Delaware senator said, "there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple."

That's a clear position that we all can understand.

Governor Palin should follow Senator Biden's lead and clearly articulate to me exactly how "tolerant" of my daughter she plans to be.

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Kim Peters