8 to 23: Youth Call Out GOP Candidates on Gay Issues
Last week presidential candidate Michele Bachmann visited Waverly, Iowa, a small city of nearly 10,000 in Bremer County, to speak about "true tolerance," reported the Des Moines Register in a Nov. 30 article.
"I think we have really forgotten what true tolerance means," Bachmann told an excited crowd.
"True tolerance means allowing people to express themselves and their beliefs. There might be people in this room that have no faith at all. You're welcome here. Everyone is welcome here. But that doesn't that mean that we squelch people's speech that have religious-based values either. And we need to allow people to speak."
A member of the crowd was Waverly High School student and president of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance, Jane Schmidt. After Bachmann gave her little speech, she turned the microphone over to Schmidt who said, "One of my main concerns is government support for the LGBT community. So my question is what would you do to protect GSAs in high school and support the LGBT community?"
Bachmann said that all Americans have the same civil rights and that the government protects those rights. She added that no one should have any special rights based upon people's preferences.
Schmidt then asked, "Then why can't same-sex couples get married?"
Bachmann replied saying that gay couples can get married as long as they are marrying the opposite sex. Schmidt fired back saying "So heterosexuals have a privilege."
The GOP candidate said, "There are no special rights for people based upon your sex practices."
A junior at Waverly High School, Ella Newell, then had her turn to speak and told Bachmann that heterosexual couples would be given a privilege because same-sex couples could not get married but heterosexual couples could.
"Remember, every American citizen has the right to avail themselves to marriage but they have to follow what the laws are. And the laws are you marry a person of the opposite sex," the GOP candidate replied.
Bachmann was recently confronted again in South Carolina during one of her book signings. This time the person speaking to the GOP hopeful is half the age of a high school student. A shy 8-year-old boy named Elija walked up to Bachmann, shook her hand and mumbled something, forcing her to lean in closer. After she asked the boy to repeat what he said, shock struck her face.
"Miss Bachmann, my mommy's gay but she doesn't need any fixing," he said.
Bachmann quickly dismissed the boy.
It seems that during this GOP race, Americans are not afraid to speak their minds directly to the candidates and none of the GOP hopefuls are getting a free pass.
Rick Santorum, another GOP candidate, had an intense discussion with a 23-year-old graduate student, while visiting Iowa, reported ABC News in a Dec. 6 article.
Jason Kornelis, a recent graduate of Dordt College, asked Santorum about his anti-same-sex views and made a comparison to a time when interracial marriage was illegal in the U.S.
Kornelis' statement visibly upset Santorum, especially when Kornelis said that he couldn't understand how gay marriage would "be a hit to faith and family in America."
Santorum said that if gay couples were allowed to get married then "their sexual activity" would be seen as "equal" to heterosexual relationships and it would be taught in schools.
"So what is going to be taught to our people in health class in our schools?" Santorum asked.
"What is going to be taught to our children about who in our stories, even to little children - what are married couples? What families look like in America? So, you are going to have in our curriculum spread throughout our curriculum worldview that is fundamentally different than what is taught in schools today? Is that not a consequence of gay marriage," the GOP candidate asked.
The 23-year-old said he did not agree.
"I think you're wrong - okay, in fact you have to know you're wrong, because if we say legally if this type of relationship is identical to other type relationships than of course more of it will be taught because this is what the law says," the clearly agitated Santorum said.
Bachmann and Santorum's views are reminiscent of Patrick Buchanan's infamous speech given at the 1992 Republican National Convention. In the speech, often called the "Culture War" speech, Buchanan talked about how America was not ready for social change, addressing a number of issues, such as abortion, gay rights and religion.
"The agenda [Bill] Clinton and [Hillary] Clinton would impose on America - abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat - that's change, all right," Buchanan said. "But it is not the kind of change America wants. It is not the kind of change America needs. And it is not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God's country."
Another young American stood up for gay rights earlier this year. Zach Wahl's YouTube video had gone viral at the beginning of the year and for the second earlier time this week. The video shows the then 19-year-old Iowa native testifying before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee about a constitutional amendment to repeal the Iowa Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in Iowa in 2009.
Wahl eloquently says he was raised by a lesbian couple and was explained to the court how being brought up by two gay women did not negatively impact him at all. He defended the values his parents taught him and said that he is a well-rounded and successful engineering student all thanks to his two moms.