Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Open Letter to Senator Scott Brown

July 31, 2011

The Honorable Senator Scott Brown
United States Senate
359 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC, 20510

Dear Senator Brown:

The It Gets Better Project, launched in September 2010, is a response to a number of young people who committed suicide in the wake of bullying in school. Since that time, there have been over 10,000 user created videos that have been viewed over 35 million times. Who has made these videos? President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Mathew Morrison of “Glee”, Joe Jonas, Joel Madden, Ke$ha, Sara Silverman, Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman, the staffs of The Gap, Google, Facebook, Pixar, the Broadway community; people of faith such as Bishop Mark Hanson, Bishop Gene Robinson, the United Church of Christ, Jewish Seminary Schools, and small congregations like St James Episcopal Church in Groveland Massachusetts; and thousands of everyday people around the world.

A few days ago all but one of our elected officials who represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts added a clip of their own to this project. I offer my sincere and deep thanks to Senator John Kerry and Representatives Ed Markey, John Tierney, Jim McGovern, Bill Keating, Stephen Lynch, Richard Neal, Niki Tsongas, John Olver, Mike Capuano, and Barney Frank.

As a psychologist who works with teens and a voter in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I stand with these courageous, outstanding, and dedicated legislators. I support our teens. I support the deep desire to make the world a little better place to be. As Barney Frank said in the closing of the sixty second clip, “It will get better. It will get better because you are helping it to become better—and this is in the end going to be the kind of world you want to live in.”

            Senator Scott Brown chose not to participate in making a sixty second clip. Through his spokesperson, Senator Brown’s office said: “Scott Brown has a strong record at the state and federal level against bullying and believes that all people regardless of sexual orientation should be treated with dignity and respect.” The spokesman went on to say “his main focus right now is on creating jobs and getting our economy back on track.”

The Senator doesn’t have the time to be the eleventh voice in a sixty second video clip?

            As for Senator Scott Brown believing that “all people regardless of sexual orientation should be treated with dignity and respect”—the facts add up to neither dignity nor respect. A simple search reveals the following about our senator (all facts found on the website Think Progress and then verified elsewhere):
-          OPPOSES SAME-SEX COUPLES RAISING CHILDREN: In 2001, Senator Brown attacked state Sen. Cheryl Jacques and her domestic partner, Jennifer Chrisler, for deciding to have children, calling it “not normal,” though later said he chose the wrong words.
-          CALLED OUT YOUNG PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT EQUALITY: In 2007, Brown “crossed the line” when he quoted profanity from a Facebook group and identified the students who used it when he was invited to King Philip Regional School District to discuss his opposition to marriage equality.
-          TRIED TO BAN SAME-SEX MARRIAGE MULTIPLE TIMES: As a Massachusetts state senator, Brown voted twice in 2007 to ban same-sex marriage after voting for two similar amendments in 2004.
-          TRIED TO CENSOR HOMOSEXUALITY IN SCHOOLS: Brown cosponsored the “Parents Rights Bill,” which would have allowed Massachusetts parents to prevent their students from learning anything about same-sex families in school.
-          TRIED TO OVERTURN DC MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Brown took a “state’s rights” position on same-sex marriage in his campaign for U.S. Senate, but in March of 2010, Brown voted for a referendum to overturn marriage equality in the District of Columbia. This was in contradiction to previous statements leaving marriage to the states. 
-          OPPOSES NONDISCRIMINATION PROTECTIONS: Brown has made it quite clear that he would oppose passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect LGBT employees from unfair hiring practices.
-          ACCEPTED MONEY FROM ANTI-GAY GROUPS: Many of Brown’s electoral victories have been thanks to the support of anti-gay PACs and organizations like hate-group MassResistance and the National Organization for Marriage.
-          NO SUPPORT FOR ANTI-BULLYING BILLS: Though Brown’s spokesman said he has a “strong record…against bullying,” Brown has not signed on to support any of the anti-bullying bills currently before Congress.

The senator has a strong record of supporting the dignity and respect of all American’s regardless of sexual orientation?

I’ve grown very angry and tired listening to politicians tell me what they think I want to hear. I’ve grown very tired of hearing politicians lie and get a free pass.

I’m sending this letter to Senator Scott Brown—and sharing it publically—to request that he respond to me and the citizens of Massachusetts with truthful, thought out, and reasoned opinions. If Senator Brown indeed supports dignity and respect for all Americans, I’d like to know how he specifically supports the dignity and respect of the citizens of the Commonwealth that are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. I would like to see specific legislation he has authored, supported, or voted for that documents his support.

Most importantly, I want to know the specific ways in which Senator Brown supports LGBT youth in the Commonwealth. How does he envision a better world for teens? How does he envision a better world for teens who are bullied, victimized, and lost in our schools?

What do you say Senator Brown? Will you be a stand up sort of guy and support our youth? Will you rise above party politics and strategy and respond with your specific thoughts and beliefs about how we can make our world just a little bit better for those youth who need a stand up sort of guy?

The world needs to be a little better. The world needs you to be a stand up sort of guy Senator Brown. I need you to be a stand up sort of guy Senator Brown. Stand up and support our LGBT teens. Stand up against bullying. Do it because it's the right thing to do.


Jason Evan Mihalko, Psy.D.,
Licensed Psychologist

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