Wednesday, August 16, 2006

IT'S the PEOPLE, NOT the PARTY

On August 10th a member of my staff forwarded an (unfriendly) email to me with a subject line that read: “How I'd like to be represented...”

Normally I do not engage in responding to a note from an obviously misguided reactionary whom I have never met. However, since this particular email shed light on a commonly held prejudice, I wanted to share it here, and make a couple of quick points. (Note: Although the author signed his name to the email, I will preserve his anonymity, as I am the one who chose to run for public office, not him.)

The author wrote in the body of his note: “I'd like to be represented by a candidate who is NOT a self-loathing, hypocritical, neo-con gay man. Give me a good ol' Dem any day--straight or gay. THEY know that EVERYONE is equal, worthy of marriage and personal choices.”

It is not the Party affiliation that makes a person: it is the people who comprise the Party. As such, we should not segregate anyone based solely on a political party affiliation.

Yes, some of the Republicans in Congress have an abysmal historical record on issues involving equality for lesbians and gays. And earlier this year, on July 18th and June 7th, respectively, many of those same Republicans were joined by thirty-four (34) Democratic House Representatives and two (2) Democratic U.S. Senators who voted for a Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) to the U.S. Constitution, which would have effectively banned all gay marriages.

Conversely, and if we truly want change on a national scale, we must—absolutely MUST—highlight and applaud the efforts of those Republicans who, like me, refuse to toe the Party line on this particular issue in Congress.

There were twenty-seven (27) House Republicans and seven (7) U.S. Senators who voted against the FMA, including Rep. Mary Bono and Rep. David Dreier from California. We cannot let their great efforts for equality go unheralded, anymore than we can afford to pretend to enjoy the automatic support of all of their Democratic colleagues.

On this particular issue, having a “good ol' Dem” in the House didn’t necessarily help, did it? Once again: it’s the people, not the party. (Coincidentally, of the major party Members who voted, exactly the same percentage of House Republicans voted against the FMA as Democrats who voted for it: 14.4%)

Fortunately these proposed Constitutional amendments amounted to nothing more than political posturing. Both failed to pass, as expected, due to the fair-mindedness of hundreds of women and men in each Party, and their ‘Independent’ colleagues.

So I submit to the author of the email we received, and to all those reading this posting, that I am far from a “self-loathing, hypocritical, neo-con gay man.” In fact, the only accurately used adjective in that sentence is “gay.”

I happen to believe deeply in personal freedom and responsibility, and equality for all people. Yet, because I am a Republican candidate, the writer of the email implied that I did not “know that EVERYONE is equal, worthy of marriage and personal choices.” He is simply wrong, and clearly does not know me at all. He does, however, have a right to be wrong: we all do.

I am a man who loves his family, his country and his freedom, and will work tirelessly to protect and support each of those things (and more) as a Member of Congress. There are myriad issues that affect all Americans: like fairness, national security and opportunities to foster business growth. If we do not start working together, and stop focusing on single-issue social politics, we may be in danger of destroying the very spirit of inclusion and equality on which America was founded.

www.hankwitzforcongress.com

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