GOP Debate Protest Today

GetEQUAL remembers LGBT victims of hate crimes and calls on candidates to rethink their platforms

Today, as Republican candidates get ready for the GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., protestors from the LGBT civil rights organization GetEQUAL will be outside chanting, “Hope, not hate! Stop killing us! Full federal equality now!”

GetEQUAL wants to send a message to the GOP candidates (starting at 3 p.m.), many of whom have been outspoken about their anti-gay platforms, including Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, all of whom signed a controversial pledge to work against LGBT rights like marriage equality.

“Every Presidential candidate, regardless of party affiliation, is responsible for the safety and care of Americans,” GetEQUAL activist Michael McKeon says. “It’s shameful that Governor Rick Perry refused to sign the Texas anti-bullying bill into law until all references to LGBT youth were removed – including the name of the young man, Asher Brown, for whom the law was to be named. In a state in which he and the GOP platform are calling for the criminalization of homosexuality, it’s no wonder that the safety of our community is at great risk.”

The activists plan to stage what is expected to be a moving memorial reminding everyone of the consequences of intolerance.

A photo from a protest in Washington D.C. this summer (courtesy of GetEQUAL)

“While the GOP candidates jockey for a position at the front of the political pack, our youth are taking their own lives in record numbers,” says Robin McGehee, director of GetEQUAL. “It’s time for these candidates to lead, rather than follow the bigoted and discriminatory philosophies of fringe, right-wing activists who insist on demonizing fellow Americans for political gain.”

Fallen members of the LGBT community remembered at the demonstration will include:

Marcellus Andrews, a 19 year old from Waterloo, Iowa (Michele Bachmann’s birthplace) who was murdered just days ago as his killers taunted him with homophobic slurs.

Lawrence King, a 15 year old from Oxnard, Calif., who was murdered by a classmate for being gay. As of this week, his murderer may go free after a jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Seth Walsh, a 13 year old from Tahachapi, Calif., who was bullied by classmates because he was gay. His suicide resulted in public school anti-bullying legislation that passed the California State Senate last Friday after being approved by the State Assembly. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Justin Aaberg, a 15 year old of Anoka, Minn., (Michele Bachmann’s backyard) who was bullied by classmates because he was gay. After a failure of leadership by the Anoka-Hennepin School District to intercede and create a safe environment for students, Justin committed suicide at his family home.

His mother – Tammy Johnson Aaberg – says in a statement, “We need safe schools for all. My son had a right to be safe in school; all of our kids have that right. My son never hurt anyone and put happiness into so many lives, people from all walks of life, but just because he happened to be gay, and had a loving heart, many students and community members thought it was better to treat him like he shouldn’t exist and so therefore he no longer does. Let’s all be loving and caring people like Justin was and protect all of our students in schools. Everyone has a right to know that ‘yes, you should exist in this world.’ As Justin would say, ‘Love the life you live, live the life you love.'”