It's with more than a little schadenfreude that we welcome the news of Sam Brownback's withdrawal from the presidential race. The U.S. Senator from Kansas is notorious for his anti-gay ways, so having one less in an already crowded field suits us just fine. Brownback never really connected with voters--even social conservatives, the ones that you'd assume would be his natural base. So it's with a tail between his holier-than-thou legs that the Senator makes his way back to Topeka to no doubt ponder "what's next?" like his good friend and current lost boy, former PA Senator Rick Santorum.
It was Brownback who was Robin to Santorum's Batman in the 2004 and 2006 conservative movement to write anti-marriage equality language into the U.S. constitution. If you google Brownback and marriage amendment, you'll no doubt find Santorum also making one hateful comment or another. Rumor has it that it was Santorum who helped Brownback "rediscover" his faith while both served in the U.S. House of Representatives in the mid-nineties. Precious.
Whether it was LGBT issues, stem cell research or reproductive rights, these two were constantly at the forefront of making sure that any forward movement on progressive issues was either squashed or reversed. Fortunately, we now know how Santorum's U.S. Senate story ended. And Brownback has already declared that he won'd seek a third term.
Santorum recently mentioned that he's considering a run for Pennsylvania governor. Brownback has repeatedly stated his intent to run in Kansas' 2010 gubernatorial race. Just because these men are out (or on their way out) of federal politics, doesn't mean that they can't continue to do considerable harm to LGBT people. Hopefully national and local LGBT groups will continue to keep an eye on both Brownback and Santorum as they plot their next moves.
For now, Brownback still has almost two and a half years left as a U.S. Senator. Let's hope his voice becomes even more diluted. And let's hope for a few more early exits (Mike Huckabee, anyone?) from the most anti-gay of the prospective presidential candidates.