Fred Karger is the only openly gay man to ever run for president. And while he’s been left out of all of the major televised debates so far, he does seem to have a friend in several of the Republican LGBT organizations. “I am the only candidate for president who supports full equality for all Americans,” he says. And by all accounts that seems to be the case, though many believe that President Obama’s criticism of DOMA signals that – if re-elected – he will come out with strong support for marriage and other rights important to the LGBT community around the country. Until then, Karger seems to the lone voice shedding light on LGBT discussions, at least among the Republicans these days. And for that reason, he’s maintained a low rating in the polls.
Mitt Romney hasn’t always been opposed to LGBT rights. In fact, as governor of Massachusetts, he found support among many moderates by acknowledging that same-sex couples should have the right to adopt children. He also penned a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans in favor of “gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly” in the military. He also said, “I’ve been in a state that has gay marriage, and I recognize that the consequences of gay marriage fall far beyond just the relationship between a man and a woman. They also relate to our kids and the right of religion to be practiced freely.” Massachusetts is also one of several states in the country that allows same-sex marriage. But more recently Romney has been openly opposed to marriage and the DADT repeal, saying that both undermine the cultural fabric of the country. He supports a Federal Marriage Amendment that would prohibit marriage on a national level.
Ron Paul is the libertarian of the bunch. The Texas Congressman became an inspiration for the Tea Party early in his campaign, offering sometimes radical and controversial commentary on the U.S. political system as a self-described “Constitutionalist.” He opposes federal efforts to define marriage and has voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, believing that the decision should be left up to individual states. “Americans understandably fear that if gay marriage is legalized in one state, all other states will be forced to accept such marriage,” says Paul. He’s also argued that same-sex marriage would undermine liberty, but has said when asked about whether he supports gay and lesbian couples’ right to marry, “I am supportive of all voluntary associations and people can call it whatever they want.” He voted for the DADT repeal and opposed sodomy laws in Texas.
Rick Perry makes no bones about supporting marriage between a man and a woman and has signed the Defense of Marriage Act in Texas, where he’s currently governor. But his statements about gay rights are often very complicated. On one hand, he’s gone on record to say that same-sex marriage should be decided by each state. On the other, he signed a pledge to legislate against LGBT rights on a federal level. And in his book, he writes: “I can sympathize with those who believe sexual preference is genetic. I respect their right to engage in the individual behavior of their choosing, but they must respect the right of millions in society to refuse to normalize their behavior.”
Rick Santorum has made his opposition to LGBT rights a major focus of his campaign. We could write a book on what Santorum, a devout Christian, has said on the topic – ranging from comparisons between homosexuality and beastiality to equating being gay and to being incestuous. “Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, whether it’s sodomy, all of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family,” he says. He’s also against gay and lesbian adoption, marriage and other rights that would prevent those within the LGBT community from being discriminated against. The former PA senator also says that if elected president, he would repeal the DADT repeal and make same-sex marriage illegal on the federal level.