(Photo: AP Photo / The Columbia Daily Tribune, Joshua A. Bickel)
The anti-bullying project called “It Gets Better” is routinely endorsed by celebrities and democratic politicians. This year, however, three New Jersey Republicans have joined in.
The project, spearheaded by columnist Dan Savage, is a YouTube campaign that began in 2010 aimed at empowering homosexual teens who may be dealing with bullies. The newest video marks the first time GOP congressional members have participated. All three participating congressmen Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo, and Jon Runyan have previously voted against gay rights legislation.
In the video, the three congressmen take turns speaking directly to the camera to appeal to youths that may be struggling with their sexual orientation.
Runyan tells the viewers, “The things that make us different are the things that make our country strong.”
Runyan released a statement defending his decision to participate in the project:
“There is no place in our society for bullying, especially when continued bullying leads to young adults taking their own lives. This issue goes beyond political affiliations. An individual’s teenage years can be very difficult and it is important for our nation’s youth to understand that it gets better.”
LoBiondo told The Huffington Post, "The issue of bullying is not a partisan one, but a human one.”
"Bullying needs to be reported and prevented, especially in our schools. This project relays a critically-needed positive message to South Jersey and the nation's youth who are considering taking their own lives. Namely, that they should hold on because it does indeed get better. In my view, anything that saves a teen's life if worth doing."
The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, commended the congressmen for their participation but in light of their opposition to gay rights in legislation, asked that the congressmen “turn their words into action to end the stigma against LGBT people.”
The Log Cabin Republicans, a pro-gay rights Republican group, alleged that CAP was trying to “score political points by taking potshots at Republicans.”
R. Clark Cooper, executive director of LCR, said in a statement, “It is deeply frustrating to see liberal activists attacking Republican Members of Congress for stepping forward to support gay youth.”
He continued to say that the Republican leaders, like celebrities, have a “powerful voice, and the New Jersey delegation’s video sends the critical message that regardless of our political affiliation, harassment in our schools is a serious problem.”
“It Gets Better” is a response to the recent high number of LGBT teens who reportedly committed suicide due to being bullied about their sexual orientation.