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January 22, 2012

Sunday Late Night: Rick Santorum Proves Kate Kendell Right

Posted in: 2012 Election

Kate Kendell, executive director of National Center for Lesbian Rights (and friend of FDL’s Prop 8 trial liveblogging, hi Kate!) wrote an impassioned Open Letter in The Advocate to Karen Santorum, trying to help Mrs Santorum understand that the LGBT community isn’t “backyard bullying” her husband, as she claimed in a campaign stop last week (see video). Here’s Kate:

Rick Santorum, his wife, Karen, and their oldest daughter, Elizabeth, were all talking about how much Rick “loves gay people” and that his opposition to our right to marry is a “policy difference.” Karen then added to the obscenity of this utter claptrap by suggesting that gay activists were being “backyard bullies” in our attacks on her husband and his policies.

Karen, we need to talk. And by that, I mean that I need to talk and you need to listen.

You love your husband — I get that. You love your faith — fine by me. But when you pretend that hate is love, that lies are truth, and that victims are oppressors, you have become inane.

It’s a really good letter to someone who has the oppressor/victim relationship absolutely backwards. It’s compassionate in ways I could never bring myself to be to someone as hypocritical as Karen “early pregnancy termination for me but not for thee!” Santorum. A woman who writes a book of letters to her early-terminated dead baby — and then criticizes opponents for talking about it because they are making the personal, political — may have a hard time understanding the line between the two. Even the conservative NYT commentator Ross Douthat said this on NPR:

I don’t think it’s fair for the Santorums to say, well, it’s OK for us to talk about our miscarried child and to talk about it in the context of, essentially, a pro-life argument about fetal life, but then to say, well, but we have a zone of privacy, and nobody can cross this zone of privacy and criticize us.

Similarly, Karen Santorum can’t talk about her husband’s hateful view of our relationships, our lives, our military service and our families as a “policy difference” and then expect us to treat him like an objective actor in the political arena. Rick Santorum hurts us, he hurts our kids, he hurts our young, he hurts our soldiers, he hurts.

Here’s the core of Kate’s argument:

Your husband believes that LGBT people cannot be trusted to serve in the military, raise children, form stable relationships or be fully respected under the law. According to you, Rick may love us, but honey, his love is killing us, and we want nothing to do with this abusive relationship. Our community has endured expulsion from family, mass firings, daily epithets, assaults, harassment, humiliation, death, and suicides. We know that if your husband becomes president of our country our long suffering will only deepen and magnify.

So yes, we are calling him what he is: a sanctimonious bigot who believes that we are dangerous, sick, and evil. We are telling the truth about his vision and his beliefs about us. That is NOT bullying, it’s about saving our own lives. Your husband would erase the landmark and life-saving changes we have seen over the past few years, and revisit the hell of a government that does not see us as fully human. Given what so many of my brothers and sisters live through daily, you calling us bullies is contemptible.

And here’s how Rick Santorum responded to Kate’s plea just this Sunday morning, launching the Florida-focused chapter of his presidential campaign:

He’ll be dropping in to see the honorary chairman of his state campaign—a Bush-connected Islamophobic pastor who says gays “make God want to vomit.”

Santorum… plans to speak from the pulpit at the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach on Sunday morning. It might seem a strange stop for a white Catholic Republican from the Northeast: While the ocean-facing side of Pompano is affluent and conservative, WWC literally sits on the wrong side of the tracks in the Collier City neighborhood—a poor, tight-knit African American district that swung strongly for Barack Obama in 2008. But WWC is different: It’s run by the Rev. O’Neal Dozier, a firebrand social conservative who’s tried to turn this depressed community red, and has been rewarded handsomely by Republican politicians for his efforts.

O’Neal Dozier is exactly the kind of voice that Rick Santorum echoes when he talks about the LGBT community. Here’s the “Rev:”

He reserved his greatest fervor for that “paramount of sins,” homosexuality—which he declared was “something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit.”

That, in case Karen Santorum missed it, is what religious-based bigotry and bullying sounds like. Karen’s husband is featured on O’Neal Dozier’s church’s website home page today.

But lest you think that Dozier’s lesser fervors are harmless, here’s Rick Santorum’s Florida Co-Chairman on Islam:

In 2006, he declared war on a local Islamic group trying to build a mosque in the neighborhood. “One day,” he intoned, “our grandchildren will live under the grips of sharia law. It’s coming our way. Islam has a plan, a 20-year plan, to take over America from within. And they’re doing it.”

… and how he treats Haitian immigrants:

The feds charged a charity that Dozier and local Republican activists had supported with swindling $3 million from Haitian immigrants.

… and how his god views capital punishment:

He added that God was “100 percent for capital punishment. Oh, yeah, God knew some were going to slip through, a few innocent ones. He knew that. But you cannot have a society without capital punishment.”

… and the Tea Party:

“The tea party is a godly ordained party,” he’s said. At one recent event, he expanded the thesis: “God would never ordain a government to take from the rich to give to the poor, you see, so therefore God is not a socialist. God is not a Robin Hood.”

So I’d like to add a coda to Kate Kendell’s open letter to Karen Santorum. Kate points out:

In some ways, it’s very sad. In another two or three months, the cameras will be gone, and the press will not care about you or Rick. The march of justice will continue, leaving you and your family a forgotten footnote on the wrong side of history.

Mrs Santorum and her husband will be quite well remembered in that footnote for the choices they made, the bullying they elevated, the hatred they celebrated. Not for their faith, and not for their family. Sure it’s very sad. But it’s not only sad for the Santorums.

It’s also very sad for all the truly bullied. In another two or three months, some of them might be gone.

(If you are a LGBTQ youth who needs support, please call the Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7386. If you know a young LGBTQ person who might be in trouble, please tell them about The Trevor Project. Don’t wish later that you had acted.)



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