On Saturday, the Republican candidates for US Senate met in Orlando for a debate hosted by the West Orlando Tea Party and the Florida Family Policy Council, the backers of Florida's anti-gay marriage amendment. (Can you already tell this is not going to go well for us?)
The four candidates, George LeMieux, Adam Hasner, Mike McCalister and Craig Miller agreed on a lot. All oppose embryonic stem cell research, internet gambling, abortion and the deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling.
They all also took the opportunity to let everyone know they do not support basic legal protections for LGBT people. All of the candidates said they oppose same-gender marriage and civil unions. Mike McCalister did say he thinks states should be able to chose marriage laws for themselves.
Not really a surprise that GOP candidates for Senate don't support same-gender marriage.
Even more telling about where these candidates are on LGBT rights is where they are on hate crimes inclusion. All of the candidates said they oppose including LGBT people from being protected under hate crime laws.
Over the last couple of years, hate violence toward the LGBT community has been rising in Florida at a time when overall hate crimes are going down. And the crimes against the LGBT community are happening in the most violent categories. This is a startling fact that reminds us are community continues to be vulnerable to hate violence, and every GOP candidate for US Senate said they oppose protecting us from hate violence.
Not believing LGBT people have the most basic of rights to be protected from hate violence is too extreme. The often brutal violence our community faces is not something to be taken lightly and we deserve better from our elected leaders and candidates for US Senate.