As the primary and general elections approach, voters face important choices up and down the ballot. Sometimes they’re unable to invest the time to investigate each candidate. One alternative is to look at who endorsed the candidates and who didn’t. In the LGBT community voters can look to endorsements by the Wisconsin Gazette, Equality Wisconsin, Fair Wisconsin and others. Another way to gauge where a candidate stands is to look at the endorsements and scorecards of those that stand against equality.
Perhaps the most prominent anti-gay group is Wisconsin Family Council. It’s the same group that brought us the 2006 constitutional amendment, fought bullying legislation in 2009 and is fighting the state domestic partner registry. Obviously if WFC endorses a candidate, we can be reasonably certain he or she is not a friend of equality.
WFC provides a list of its endorsements for 2010 at wifamilyaction.org (enter endorsements in the search on the home page). The group also includes a link to the details of the questionnaires it sent to the various candidates, which can give you an extra level of understanding on their positions.
For all of his attacks against LGBT families in Milwaukee County, County Executive Scott Walker got very little in return from WFC. He had to settle for a joint endorsement with Mark Neumann. Apparently the group couldn’t resist endorsing Neumann as well, given his infamous comments from the late 1990s about not hiring gay people; if he were “elected god for a day,” he said, “homosexuality wouldn’t be permitted.”
On the WFC questionnaire, both Walker and Neumann indicated they oppose the state’s domestic partner registry, which affords approximately 43 of the over 200 protections that same-sex couples get. Every one of the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor followed Walker and Neumann’s lead in opposing the registry. Likewise, nearly every Republican candidate for the Assembly and Senate opposed it.
For the various congressional candidates, the WFC questionnaire asked if they would retain the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). They were also asked for positions on the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity “as protected classes, like race or religion, in the hiring, firing and promoting of employers.”
Every major Republican candidate for the U.S. House who responded to the questionnaire pledged to continue DOMA and to oppose discrimination protections for LGBT workers, including Dan Kapanke (3rd District), James Sensenbrenner (5th), Sean Duffy (7th), and all three Republicans who want to challenge Steve Kagen (8th). For the U.S. Senate both Republican candidates Ron Johnson and Dave Westlake followed the exact same pattern.
As we approach the elections, it is critical we understand the relevant positions of each candidate. Thankfully many groups provide scorecards, endorsements and other tools to give us a better understanding. Even those organizations that continually stand against equality can help inform us. In a sense we can actually let their intolerance be our guide on Election Day.