The very first vote in my life was for a Republican.
Which one? Fasten your seat belts, it was for Spiro Agnew who at time was running for Governor of Maryland as a "Rockefeller Republican". Even more importantly, my Democratic Party had let me down by nominating a segregationist as our party nominee - George P Mahoney. No I didn't change my Party registration, I just went into the voting booth and voted for racial peace and integration because I knew it was essential to put the good of the nation ahead of my partisan politics.
Even though Spiro Agnew eventually became Nixon's Vice President and was forced from office because of corruption, I never have regretted that vote against segregation.
Over the years, there have been Republicans I have endorsed such as former Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield who was a leading opponent of the Vietnam War. At times I have worked side by side with the Log Cabin Republicans hosting events for exciting and promising young open LGBT Republican candidates. In the last Mayor's race in New York City, I endorsed Michael Bloomberg over the Democratic candidate.
Then there were those times that the Democratic candidate was so bad on LGBT rights that I voted for a third party candidate rather than endorse homophobia in my own Party.
Trust me I know it is not easy to leave your political parties nominee at any time. In addition, it is not easy to put other issues you care about on the back burner for the rights of the LGBT community. However it must be done this year. Never has the LGBT community been so close to victory and so close to losing it all because of this election.
There is no need to list the massive number of positions where the President and Romney disagree on LGBT issues - just look at two of them.
First is marriage equality where for the first time the President of the United States has endorsed our right to not only marry but obtain the over 1,200 rights, benefits, privileges and protections offered to any other American citizen. Mr. Romney has time and time again made clear that he supports a Constitutional Amendment that would put ban marriage equality and even more importantly separate our community from the rest of society.
Some of you have told me that Romney really doesn't mean it. Forget the absence of integrity or moral leadership surrounding that statement, do you really want to take that gamble with our rights?
Second, we could be on the verge of a historic victory in the United States Supreme Court that not only would protect our rights in the big states but offer LGBT Americans in states like Arkansas the same rights. This is our moment and we can not lose it.
Never have I hesitated over the first four years of the President's term to hold his feet to the fire and at times with great personal cost. In 1996, I refused to attend the Democratic National Conventon over DOMA and DADT. It was a very hard and painful decison for me personally. So I feel comfortable pleading with you to vote for the President, skip the presidential line or vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
Now before you proclaim "I am more than just being gay" let me share with you the simple fact that I am too am more than being just gay. I care about poverty, war, climate change, the environment, wildlife, population control and yes even wise and sound economics. My life also has been devoted to those issues but being able to live life as a free and equal man always has always been my priority. Without total freedom and equality, you are nothing more than a 'sideshow' on the American political stage.
However, I have an acute awareness after working in this community for over thirty-five years how hard it is to regain our freedom once we let it slip through our fingers. Proposition 8 is the perfect example. California LGBT citizens could still be years away from obtaining their freedom to marry because of the passage of that Initiative.
So to my LGBT Republican friends I say think carefully about your vote because you might not only be dooming your ability to live a free and equal life but also mine.