Ron Johnson, the Republican who hopes to take Russ Feingold’s U.S. Senate seat, is willing to spend a good portion of his personal fortune on political ads. But he does not appear to be very concerned about the details of actual public policy.
It seems that everything Johnson says is a political slogan. We heard a good example of this very early in his campaign when he was interviewed on a conservative talk radio show. “The theme of my campaign will be freedom,” he declared. The right-wing group FreedomWorks calls Johnson a “champion of freedom.”
But Johnson’s definition of “freedom” does not include LGBT people.
On his website, Johnson declares himself “a pretty traditional guy” and goes on to say that he believes “marriage is between one man and one women.” He assures visitors to his site that he will “take these principles with him to Washington and will stand up to those who would attack these cherished traditional values.”
Johnson apparently backs the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevents out gays and lesbians from serving in the armed forces. In a March 26 interview on Wisconsin Eye, he observed that “it’s been a policy that has probably worked pretty well.”
In complete and total contrast to Johnson’s exclusionary definition of freedom, Feingold emphatically states that he believes in the civil rights of all people, including those in the LGBT Community. He’s backed up that statement with very strong action.
Feingold supports marriage equality for all and was one of only 14 Senators to vote against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. He has long opposed the “don’t ask” policy and was a co-sponsor for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
When talking to Wispolitics on June 14, Johnson was again asked for his views on gay rights issues. He responded with a complaint that he usually gets “asked this question by reporters, but nobody brings it up. It’s not much of an issue here in Wisconsin.”
Perhaps someone should notify Johnson that there are many LGBT families all across Wisconsin who are struggling for their freedoms every day. But for those families the word “freedom” is not just a campaign bumper sticker or a cheap political slogan. For them it is something very real that they live without every day – and will continue to if this “champion of freedom” has his way.