On the issues: Rep. Ken Calvert and Will Rollins on Jan. 6, LGBTQ rights and polarization.
The following is an interview with Will Rollins, a member of Congress who, like me, has worked on LGBTQ rights issues before he became a congressman. Rollins (D-FL-13) is one of only two members of the House of Representatives who voted for marriage equality in the House, the other being Rep. Todd Young (R-IN-4).
As a former mayor and state representative, Rollins is a centrist, but he’s consistently voted with his party on LGBTQ issues, including when Republicans passed major legislation to protect LGBTQ people, including the Violence Against Women Act, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal, and the Don’t Enlist Act.
If Rollins were a Democrat he would do everything he possibly could to advance LGBTQ rights through executive action.
“I’ve always been a little more of a legislativeist than a political person,” Rollins said. “So I usually try to get legislation passed in the House. But if I have to go into Congress on a personal issue, I’ll do that.”
The difference between Rollins and his Republican colleagues is that Rollins has fought for marriage equality and for the rights of LGBTQ people.
“I don’t look at it as the party line or party,” Rollins said. “I look at it as my core values and beliefs and what I see is a clear moral compass.”
The political and personal stakes of marriage equality are not as high for Rollins and me as they are for members of Congress who are gay.
I am gay and I voted for marriage equality. Rollins is gay and a Republican. I was elected to Congress two years before Rollins became a member of the House.
I asked Rollins to share some of his personal experiences with the LGBTQ community in Florida, where he currently lives. Here’s what Rollins had to say:
On being gay: “I don’t know how I have it all figured out. I’m still not completely there. But I’ve come to terms with it. And, yes, a lot of things have changed for me over the last two years.”