[Cross-posted on Blue Mass Group.]
It is incredibly disappointing that "What does Scott Brown have against gay kids?" is a perfectly valid question given our Republican junior Senator's awful record on issues of concern to the LGBT community, particularly issues relating to LGBT youth. However, this is what Brown's record has sunk to. Consider some of the items that comprise Republican Scott Brown's record.
First, while a state senator, Republican Scott Brown was the only member of the Massachusetts state senate of either party to support then-Governor Mitt Romney's veto of the LGBT Youth Commission. When we look back on the roll call, we see former state senate Republican Minority Leader Brian Lees voted to overturn the veto; the Republican Party's nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 2010 and current Congressional candidate Richard Tisei voted to overturn the veto; Hedlund, Knapik, and Tarr all voted to overturn. Republican Scott Brown stood all alone with Mitt Romney in the veto of the LGBT Youth Commission.
Second, Republican Scott Brown was also the only member of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to refuse to appear in the delegation's "It Gets Better" video, part of a video series aimed at reducing teen suicide. Seriously, what fault could Brown find with this important effort?
In an act organized by his senior partner, Senator John F. Kerry, the 11 Democrats in the state's congressional delegation made an "It Gets Better'' video aimed at offering moral support to gay teenagers contemplating suicide or struggling with depression.
The 12th member of the delegation - Brown - declined to participate, prompting immediate questions when the video was released Wednesday.
In a statement, spokesman Colin Reed offered an explanation.
"Scott Brown has a strong record at the state and federal level against bullying and believes that all people regardless of sexual orientation should be treated with dignity and respect," the spokesman said. "His main focus right now is on creating jobs and getting our economy back on track."
The facts, though, belie that answer.
A week earlier, for example, Reed and Brown himself were promoting the senator's views on a distinctly non-economic subject: the recent shooting deaths of six seals on Cape Cod.
Brown announced plans to file legislation more than doubling the penalties for intentional violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
"It's an environmental issue that affects everyone," he said during an interview with the Cape Cod Times. "I mean, who doesn't love seals?"
The same question might be asked of suicidal teens, and two Democratic organizations were quick to ask it.
So Brown's "main focus" is creating jobs (which doesn't seem to be accurate in the first place given that Brown has voted against and helped filibuster tens of thousands of jobs for Massachusetts), so he can't find a couple minutes to participate in an effort geared toward reducing teen suicide? (Is Brown truly that incapable of multi-tasking? Apparently so, according to Brown's spokesman.) He can take time to tout seal protection legislation because, as Brown's spokesman put it, "who doesn't love seals" (we're all for marine mammal protection, of course!); but Brown can't find any time for teen suicide protection?! Because, I mean, who doesn't care about gay teens? Maybe Republican Scott Brown can just blame his scheduler, the same way he blamed his summer intern when Brown's plagiarism scandal flared up.
Third, Republican Scott Brown's major opponent, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, addressed the importance of fostering environments in and out of school that cut down on bullying, particularly on bullying against LGBT youth (y'know, the reason we needed an "It Gets Better" video series in the first place). Warren wrote:
Finally, Massachusetts has been a leader in combating the rise of bullying. After college, I taught elementary school and saw first hand how important it is for kids to learn in a safe and welcoming environment. We need to help teachers and administrators create and foster an environment that welcomes students and their families, whether kids are being raised in a single parent household, by their grandparents, or by their lesbian moms or gay dads. All children - straight, questioning, perceived, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender - can thrive in school only when they are truly safe and secure.
Brown's response was insultingly dismissive, referring to the anti-bullying effort and other key priorities listed in Warren's blog post (including repealing the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) as "pet projects":
I don't come before you with a checklist of items promising that I will be an advocate for you on each and every one of them. My opponent has already started down that road, promising to support everyone's pet project. That's not the way I have ever operated.
Of course, that insultingly dismissive response is also misleading. Republican Scott Brown is happy to "operate" through promised checklists of items. Brown promised Grover Norquist that he would adhere to Norquist's right-wing tax pledge. Brown promised to repeal health care reform even though health care reform benefits millions of Massachusetts residents. Republican Scott Brown is perfectly happy to make promises - just not to LGBT youth.
Republican Scott Brown's record toward LGBT youth is so clearly awful that it becomes a perfectly valid question to ask, "What does Scott Brown have against gay kids?" It's too bad that Brown provides us with no public town hall forum at which to ask him the question directly.