Ah, the annual villains list. What better way to capture all of the actors who fought so hard against equality in 2009 than in a year-end hall of shame collection worthy of the Franklin Mint. While these folks may be antiques in terms of where their politics are at, they definitely made news this year as leading opponents to advances in LGBT equality. From folks who accused gay men of being terrorists, to a certain duo that runs an infamous National Organization for something LGBT couples don't have in 44 states, here's a group of folks that we'd definitely not like to be stranded on a deserted island with. (Then again, putting these folks on a deserted island might not be that bad of an idea ... )
5. Marc Mutty - Perhaps nobody epitomizes the connection between the Catholic Church and efforts to steal marriage equality away from gays and lesbians more so than Marc Mutty. He was the chair of Stand for Marriage Maine, the statewide organization that led the movement to pass Question 1, killing marriage rights for gay and lesbian Mainers. But truthfully, Marc Mutty was always just a shill for the Catholic Church. He was the Portland diocese’s head spokesperson until taking a leave of absence from that job to harsh on gays and lesbians. Among his more famous comments during the past year included a dig that gay marriage hurts the common good, and that “homosexual marriage has serious consequences.” Because, you know, genuine love and commitment were always threatening to the right wing.
4. Eric Smith - Have attitudes about HIV/AIDS shifted all that much since the early days of the epidemic in the 1980s? Maybe not for Eric Smith. He’s a prosecutor in Macomb County, Michigan, and he’s the lead guy behind efforts to charge a Michigan resident with terrorism, simply because the man has HIV. In the eyes of Smith, HIV-positive people are homegrown terrorists, ticking time bombs waiting to unleash their biological weaponry at a moment’s notice. Of course, looking at HIV through that lens is completely counter to science, medicine, and basic human decency, which is why more than 550 people have written Smith blasting him for filing such stupid and ignorant charges. But so far he’s yet to listen to the cattle call of folks calling for him to wise up and drop the terrorism charges.
3. Jim Douglas - Some might say it’s not fair to put Vermont Governor Jim Douglas on a list of villains, given that he’s fairly mild-mannered and relatively moderate compared to some of the other members of his political party. But 2009 marked the year where Gov. Douglas stood in the way of civil rights, and because of that, history is going to remember him as the Governor who vetoed same-sex marriage for Vermont residents. Thankfully, not even the stroke of Douglas’ homophobic pen could stop progress in Vermont –- the state legislature overrode his veto, with bipartisan support no less, and made Vermont the fourth state in the country to recognize same-sex marriage. Ah, what could be better than seeing a villain get their comeuppance?
2. Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown - Sticking with the superhero references, here’s the dynamic duo of the anti-gay movement. Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown share the dubious honor of running the National Organization for Marriage. When the organization is not busy illegally skirting federal tax law, or cowardly trying to hide its donor rolls, it’s getting engaged in marriage equality debates across the country, from Iowa (where it poured almost $100,000 for naught this year), to Washington, D.C. (where it also lost this year). They are one of the lead organizations dedicated to taking civil rights away (or preventing them in the first place) from gays and lesbians. But don’t call Maggie Gallagher or Brian Brown haters. According to them, they don’t hate gays. They just love traditional marriage. Blech, excuse us while we throw up in our mouths for a second.
1. David Bahati - It’s hard to write a list about 2009 gay rights villains without some mention of folks in Uganda who are tirelessly working to murder or imprison queer people. David Bahati, one of the key legislators behind Uganda’s anti-gay bill, is one of the worst villains, bringing homophobic vitriol and a rolodex full of American evangelical connections to the debate. Essentially Bahati has become a champion of LGBT genocide, hoping to wipe out Uganda’s LGBT population and even ex-pats who support gay rights. Clearly he deserves to own the title in the 2009 LGBT Rights Hall of Shame. He’s been denounced by the U.S. State Department, denounced by governments around the globe, and denounced by human rights organizations north and south. Still, his Anti-Homosexuality Bill is not dead yet, which makes him not only a shameful villain, but a scary one at that.
The 2009 Gay Rights Hall of Shame orifinally appeared on Change.org and was reprinted with permission of the author.