Cuba has recently announced via Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro, that it will consider legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples. The issue will be up for review later in 2012. In a relatively short time period, the Cuban government’s progress on GLBT rights has also included launching an anti-homophobia campaign and the rebooting of its program that pays for the sex-change operations of transsexuals. There is no question that Cuba still has economic struggles, occasionally suffers from infrastructure problems, and forces a continued ban on traveling outside of the country onto its citizens. Despite these and other issues, however, the Cuban government appears to be moving towards a national, progressive position on GLBT rights faster than the US.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights have been at the forefront of the issues for those in the running to become the Republican nominee for President. Instead of proposing achievements in those rights, however, the candidates are running on platforms promising to remove and/or impede the rights of GLBT persons. For comparison, here are a few of the positions of the most popular candidates (including a few that have only recently given up chasing the nomination):
- Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum have promised to attempt reinstating the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the US military (DADT);
- Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, and Bachmann support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as between a man and a woman;
- Romney, Santorum, Bachmann, Perry, and Gingrich support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage;
- Herman Cain, Gingrich, Perry, and Santorum contend that being gay is a choice;
- Santorum has promised to invalidate all the same-sex marriages that individual states have legalized; and
- Bachmann has ties to harmful “pray the gay away” treatments via her husband’s clinic and to the Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill via staff member Peter E. Waldron.
To reiterate – these candidates are campaigning on regressive stances regarding GLBT rights like it’s a good thing. The candidates seem to think that President Obama’s lukewarm stance on gay and lesbian rights is too liberal and too anti-Christian, ignoring the fact that this country is not supposed to take the position of one religion over another. These promises and opinions also run very counter to the Republican ideal of “small government”.
As Americans, we like to think that we live by the “Land of the Free” and “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. But if we want these to mean something, instead of just repeating them as useless platitudes, we need to move forward, not regress.