Paul Ryan Virtually A Zero at the Human Rights Campaign


Editor Gay City News

Paul Ryan, the budget hawk and conservative darling that Mitt Romney has selected as his vice presidential running mate, has in a number of media appearances shown impatience when asked about LGBT rights issues.
His disinclination to broach the topic should not be mistaken for anything other than nearly absolute fealty to social conservative dogma.
"Actually, I came on to talk about the debt crisis we have and the budget," Ryan complained when asked his views on marriage equality by David Gregory on "Meet the Press" this past February. "I support the Wisconsin amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman… I don't know why we are spending all this time talking about this. We've got a debt crisis coming and the administration just gave us a budget that simply just charts another path to debt and decline."
It's not simply that Ryan is reluctant to take the plunge on marriage rights for same-sex couples. Throughout his years in Congress, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Washington-based LGBT lobby, has identified only one instance in which the 42-year-old Wisconsin Republican has ever taken a pro-LGBT position.
In 2007, Ryan was one of 35 Republicans to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which at that time only proposed to protect against job bias based on sexual orientation, not gender identity or expression.
Ryan's advocacy didn't last long, however. When Republicans unsuccessfully tried a parliamentary maneuver to shelve the bill after passage — with what is known as a motion to recommit — he joined 26 other GOP ENDA supporters in the unsuccessful effort to kill the bill they had voted for just moments before.
HRC does not issue congressional scorecards until the end of a two-year session, so no rating is available for 2011-2012. In the prior five scorecards, Ryan received four zeroes and one rating of 10 out of 100, for his half-hearted support of ENDA in 2007.
In both 2004 and 2006, Ryan voted for a federal marriage amendment that would have defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman everywhere in the United States. On both occasions, he joined the preponderance of his fellow Republicans and several dozen Democrats in unsuccessful efforts to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary if an amendment is to go on to the states for their approval.
In both the 2009-2010 and the 2007-2008 sessions, he voted against hate crimes protections, which became law in 2009. He also did not support repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in 2010 — a measure that received votes in both May and December.
In the 2001-2002 session of Congress, Ryan voted to exempt faith-based initiatives from state and local government civil rights laws — an effort aimed squarely at LGBT nondiscrimination protections, since other civil rights categories are covered by federal law as well as locally.
A familiar Republican push against LGBT rights has taken aim at the autonomy of the District of Columbia, which has the burden of significant congressional oversight. In 1999, he supported a ban on gay adoption in DC. In the following session, he opposed implementation of DC's domestic partnership registry.
On several occasions, Ryan voted to forbid federal funding of syringe exchange programs, which have consistently been shown to reduce the rate of HIV transmission.
He also declined to sign an office nondiscrimination policy protecting LGBT employees circulated by HRC.
A Roman Catholic from Janesville, a community of roughly 60,000 southeast of Madison near the Illinois border, Ryan has also been a consistent opponent of a woman's right to choose, earning 100 percent ratings from National Right to Life and zeroes from NARAL.

Originally published