Add another confusing chapter to the saga of Karyn Polito’s Potemkin progresion on LGBT rights.
Polito was one of the leaders of the effort to stop marriage equality after the Supreme Judicial Court made Massachusetts the first state in the country to allow same-sex couples to marry. She also sponsored a bunch of anti-LGBT bills while she was in the legislature where she chilled with a particularly homophobic clique. If you just started paying attention to Massachusetts politics in 2014, I’ll forgive you if you don’t know the backstory.
For reasons passing understanding, this isn’t something Martha Coakley’s campaign felt the need to harp on.
Shortly after Charlie Baker asked Polito to be his running mate in late 2013, his campaign attempted to get ahead of the inevitable mentions of her Schlafly-esque past by declaring that she had changed her mind on marriage equality. The campaign put out a statement, but Polito herself dodged reporters questions and tried her best not to talk about the issue.
Here’s what happened when MassLive’s Rob Rizzutto tried to ask Polito about it a month before Election Day in 2014:
When asked to speak briefly with Polito on Thursday in regards to her change of heart on the issue of gay marriage, her campaign said she was too busy to talk and instead released the following statement.
“I embrace marriage equality and I supported civil unions at a time when most Republicans a decade ago did not,” Polito said in the statement. “Like many, including President Obama, my position has evolved and I support the rights of men and women to marry whomever they love and will continue to support the progress achieved over the last decade.”
When Polito was campaigning in Springfield on Friday, and an attempt was made to connect with her to chat on the topic, her campaign referred to the previously provided statement.
Earlier this year, in the heat of the battle of the new transgender public accommodations law, Polito gave the keynote address at an event organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. In her 10 minute speech, she didn’t talk about LGBT people at all.
Last year, Senate President Stan Rosenberg told reporters all over town that Polito would officiate his planned wedding to long time beau Bryon Hefner. A watermark moment for a convert to modernity, it would be Polito’s chance to show that not only was she FOR gay marriage, she was going to do some gay marrying herself.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that plan came to fruition.
Last week, Rosenberg’s office put out a short statement announcing that he and Hefner had quietly married last Tuesday in Cambridge. Rosenberg’s spokesperson declined to answer when I asked her if Polito officiated. Baker’s office did not respond to me.
The wedding was not listed on Polito’s public schedule, and it’s hard to believe that after promoting the idea heavily a year ago, Rosenberg and the Baker administration would clam up about it now if Polito had carried through with officiating.
Bakerland says Polito evolved on marriage equality, but she won’t talk about it. She gave a speech to an LGBT group, and didn’t mention LGBT people. She agreed to officiate a same-sex wedding, but apparently did not.
Is Polito uncomfortable talking about queer folks? Or, would personally advocating for something she doesn’t actually believe feel more like lying to her than statements released in her name?
We almost had a chance to find out, but we’ll have to keep waiting.