That Rick Perry’s Christian moralizing was ever considered viable in a country supposedly built on the separation of church and state is disgusting.

That two hypocrites like Mitt Romney (who was in favor of civil unions for gay couples before he wasn’t) and Newt Gingrich (who wants to ban you from marrying while he commits adultery and divorces repeatedly) are still taken seriously is depressing.

And that Rick Santorum — a former U.S. senator so anti-gay that vengeful LGBT activists turned his last name into a euphemism for a by-product of anal sex (Google it if you somehow haven’t yet) — stands a legitimate chance of continuing his “surge” (ugh) to the top is truly terrifying.

Vote or sit out?

Georgia has an open primary system. That means you don’t have to declare yourself as a Republican or Democrat when you register to vote, and you can vote in either party’s primary. Voting in the Republican primary doesn’t obligate you to vote for the Republican candidate in the November general election, or vice versa.
So what should LGBT voters do on Super Tuesday? Staying home and lamenting, possibly with cocktails, is one option.

Another strategy would be to vote for the candidate who is the most moderate, or the least offensive on LGBT rights — especially if you support Republican positions on other issues. That would likely be Jon Huntsman, who signed civil unions into law as governor of Utah and refused to sign an anti-gay marriage pledge, or Ron Paul, who published homophobic ramblings in his newsletter two decades ago but as a member of Congress voted against amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage and supported “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

Since neither Huntsman, who has suspended his campaign, or Paul has a viable chance of winning Georgia, that basically amounts to a protest vote — an attempt to send a message to the GOP that moderate Republicans do exist and want a voice in their party.

If you already plan to vote for President Obama, another strategy would be to vote for the candidate you think will be easiest for him to beat in November.

Unfortunately, the success so far of candidates like Santorum, who should be seen as little more than fringe, makes that a dangerous gamble.

Look to November

No matter which Republican nominee eventually emerges from the primary process, the 2012 election will be a referendum not only on who should be president, but on the direction of our country.

It’s a race where we can’t afford to be disillusioned or apathetic, because those who oppose our basic equality certainly won’t be.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker — who is gay, a Democrat and was just reelected to a second term — recently offered a strong rebuke for those who say they may sit out the upcoming election because the Democratic Party and platform don’t go far enough on gay rights.

Though it is worthy of quoting at length, her comment to the Huffington Post can basically be summed up with the adage that the perfect should not be enemy of the good.

“I think [the Democratic platform] should [include marriage equality], period, end of sentence,” Parker said. “But it sort of goes to the conversation we just had about President Obama — he needs to evolve faster, he needs to know where his base is. But if he doesn’t get there, and if the party platform doesn’t get there, I’m a pragmatist and I look at the alternative.

“Let us not go to the Democratic convention and rip each other up as Democrats because we’re not getting to the right result fast enough. Let’s try to move people along as far as we can, and then join ranks.

“Please, Rick Santorum? Newt Gingrich? That’s truly scary. Mitt Romney — not a good choice.”

Whomever you choose to vote for on Super Tuesday, or whether you choose to vote at all, mark your calendar for Nov. 6.

That’s the real contest, and the one we can’t risk losing.

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