BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's recently anointed running mate for the 2012 American election, voted against hate crimes legislation, voted for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex couples from marrying (and also supported a similar amendment in his home state), voted against allowing gay and lesbian couples in the US capital to adopt, and opposed repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, the Human Rights Campaign points out on its web blog Aug 11.

And according to Michelangelo Signorile, HuffPost Gay Voices' editor-at-large, Ryan "actually tried to kill a gay rights bill just minutes before he voted 'aye.'" The bill in question: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which died in the Senate. Interestingly, that tepid nod Ryan made in the direction of gay rights puts him to the left of contemporary Romney, who, according to the Human Rights Campaign, "views workplace protections for queer Americans as an 'unfair burden on employers.'" Back in 1994, Romney supported ENDA when he ran for the Senate, Signorile points out.

But Obama himself has been slow to act on federal workplace protections for queers. The news site Roll Call notes that gay rights groups have been urging the administration to go the executive order route and ban discrimination against queers by federal contractors, even as ENDA is going nowhere fast because of a deeply divided Congress. But the White House has resisted, it says.

While the Romney-Ryan union might be a match made in the rightwing version/vision of heaven, Signorile says the ticket highlights the glaring choice for voters "not just on the role of the federal government in the lives of Americans, but also on a civil rights issue of our time." 

Meanwhile, Roll Call says Obama supporters are killing themselves — laughing, that is — over Romney's selection of GOP veep hopeful. 

But the GOP is making much of Ryan's "youthful" 42. He's been touted as a gym rat, a fitness nut and "almost a pro-skier" — in addition to being a fan of Nirvana. But Daily Kos's Karl Frisch pooh-poohs the blatant tactical hype in the midst of declining poll numbers and evolving demographic trends.

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