Green presidential candidate Jill Stein and running mate Cheri Honkala paused in their campaigning today to acknowledge National Coming Out Day, an internationally-recognized celebration honoring those of LGBTQ identity.
"Today we celebrate the diversity of our people and our commitment to stand in solidarity with people of all sexual orientations and gender identities who have added so much to the life of our nation," said Dr. Stein. "We encourage everyone to stand with the members of our LGBTQ community as they ask for the fairness and respect that they deserve, but which is not yet fully granted."
Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala said that President Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage was a positive step forward, but sharply disagreed with his statement that legalization should be left to individual states.
"Human rights are universal. We support national recognition of same-sex marriage rights, without which true equality does not exist. There is no more basic right than the right to choose whom we love and whom we call family, without the state declaring that one kind of family is more legitimate than another," said Cheri Honkala.
Dr. Stein noted that she had declared her support for same-sex marriage in 2002, becoming the first gubernatorial candidate in her state to take such a position. Earlier this year, she had traveled to North Carolina to oppose a state ballot measure that would prohibit same-sex marriage.
"In November, marriage equality will appear on the ballots in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington. I urge every voter to let his or her vote count on the side of fairness, justice, and respect for their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender neighbors who have waited far too long for equal treatment under the law," she added.
"We must challenge President Obama on his silence as states and defeat or overturn LBGTQ protections and pass anti-gay anti-equality laws," said Cheri Honkala. "If you believe that this is a matter of fundamental human rights, as Jill and I do, then you go into that state and make the case for marriage equality. That is the politics of courage."
Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala also called for passage of federal legislation that outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status in employment, housing, and public accommodations. While Republicans have mostly opposed such a law, Democrats have dragged their feet on ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), failing to move the bill forward and enact it when they controlled Congress and the White House.
"While Democrats and some gay rights groups have hesitated on the inclusion of gender identity in such laws, we in the Green Party fully are committed to protecting transgender people. We also support inclusion of marital status under the protection. Discrimination on the basis of marital status, in employee benefits, wills, visitation rights, immigration, and other bases has affected same-sex couples, different-sex couples in common-law relationships, and single individuals of all sexual orientations," said Dr. Stein.
The Green Party and Green presidential candidates have strongly supported a national anti-discrimination law and same-sex marriage rights ever since the party was founded. (See the Green Party's 2012 national platform on LGBTQ rights).
Dr. Stein said that President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage rights and repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" after it became evident that his lack of action was resulting in a loss of enthusiasm among LGBTQ Americans and might cost him millions of votes in 2012.
"This is an important lesson. President Obama realized that he could no longer take LGBTQ votes for granted. But he still believes can take for granted a lot of voters who oppose war and the power of Wall Street and who care about the environment and the advance of climate change. Too many voters keeping showing that Democratic politicians can banish progressive, humane ideas and adopt Republican agenda without worrying about the loss of votes," said Jill Stein.
"This is one of the best reasons to vote Green. A strong Green Party showing on Election Day will show that Democratic and Republican politicians are no longer each others' sole competition. Every vote for a Green candidate helps change the U,S, political landscape by building a strong alternative party -- one in which LGBTQ rights have unwavering support."