The first elected GOP officials have contributed to a video for the ‘It Gets Better‘ project.
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg’s office invited members of the state congressional delegation to tape a message as part of the “It Gets Better” campaign aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth.
Three Republican members of the delegation — Reps. Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo and Jon Runyan — joined seven Democrats, including the state’s two Democrat senators in this video.
The project started by activist Dan Savage last year has led to videos from political leaders throughout the world, including an early contribution by President Obama. More than 25,000 videos have now been produced.
“This video is a message to kids in New Jersey and around the country – we are on your side, and we are here to tell you that it gets better,” Lautenberg said in a news release.
Lance predicts that “respect and acceptance will grow day by day.” And Runyan says, “The things that make us different are the things that make our country strong.”
New Jersey is home to Rutgers University, where student Tyler Clementi famously killed himself last year after being secretly recorded in a sexual encounter that was posted on the Internet.
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg has sponsored an anti-discrimination bill in Congress named after Clementi which would require any university receiving federal funding to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The Republicans might oppose that, but they say in the video that they support schools implementing codes of conduct and working harder to prohibit harassment.
“We can’t completely eliminate bullying,” say LoBiondo, “but there are actions we can take to make things better now.”
Lance in a statement said:
“Congressman Lance chose to participate in the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign because the bipartisan effort puts forth an important, positive message that mirrors New Jersey’s landmark anti-bullying initiative signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Christie and is consistent with his voting record and long-standing views.”
All three Republicans voted to maintain DADT and also for the Defense of Marriage Act. However Reps. Lance and LoBiondo support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Gay reaction can best be described as mixed.
Tobias Grace, editor of local Out In Jersey newspaper, had a very straightforward response: “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”
Daniel Villareal, writing for Queerty, said that these videos are “less and less to do with stopping LGBT kids from killing themselves and more to do with politicians and corporate policy makers gradually recognizing the needs and rights of LGBT Americans.”
The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) have come out against any cynicism, attacking Think Progress LGBT and others on their blog:
It is deeply frustrating to see liberal activists attacking Republican Members of Congress for stepping forward to support gay youth. Like the celebrities, sports teams and other public figures who have participated in the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign, these Republican leaders have a powerful voice, and the New Jersey delegation’s video sends the critical message that regardless of our political affiliation, harassment in our schools is a serious problem.
Picture: YouTube screengrab