Michael Emanuel Rajner

Can Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Cure the GOP's Homophobia?

Filed By Michael Emanuel Rajner | May 26, 2013 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Congress, GetEqual, GOP, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Immigration, Jose Serrano, LGBT, LGBT civil rights, Log Cabin, Marco Rubio, needle exchange, Republican, Senate, syringe exchange

For the last several years I have publicly applauded Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's leadership and political courage to help advance efforts around LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues. In Democratic circles, party leaders in the past have even chastised me for doing so. But I personally believe when elected leaders demonstrate tremendous political courage, especially when it's a Republican speaking loudly in support of LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues, advocates have a duty to publicly applaud that courage.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen w MER in 2009Several years ago I personally witnessed Ileana demonstrate incredible courage when she re-examined the issue of syringe exchange programs. After several meetings with Ileana in Washington DC and Miami, she completely reversed her position and signed on with Congressman Jose Serrano as an introducing sponsor of legislation supporting the repeal of the ban to federally fund syringe exchange programs. It was an exciting year -- for a very brief period of time, the ban was lifted and for the first time in many years, advocates had another resource in the toolbox to help reduce the number of new HIV and hepatitis infections. Advocates quickly lost that resource when Republicans reinstated the ban on use of federal funds two years later.

Over the years I have become more politically involved and have closely aligned myself with the Democratic Party. While admittedly not perfect, Democrats at least attempt to muster the political will to address issues that the GOP typically tries to relegate into the dungeons of Congress where light is rarely seen.

MER&IRL-2007.jpgWhile I have come to know and respect Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, I remain horrified with the blatant homophobia and deep-seated hatred the GOP has towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, whose lives are far more fragile than others because there are actual laws encouraging us to be discriminated against and ostracized from the rest of society. The GOP is sworn to destroy LGBT families.

Nowhere has this been more evident over the last several months than on the issue of immigration reform. Leading the war of hate against LGBT people is United States Senator Marco Rubio, a spineless, morally corrupt GOP figurehead who threatened to oppose reform and derail the hopes of 11 million immigrants should provisions be included for LGBT families. This is appalling especially when research indicates that 67% of Floridians -- Rubio's constituents -- support the inclusion of LGBT families as part of immigration reform.

I can only hope that Ileana, a Cuban immigrant herself, could muster the courage to publicly call out Rubio and others in her party who openly wish harm to LGBT people and the family of her very own LGBT child. We know the Log Cabin Republicans won't do it. (What devil do they serve?)

The GOP's war against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people must come to end, and I look to Ileana to courageously lead her party away from bigotry.

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