After the first presidential debate in Denver and the vice presidential debate in Kentucky, several issues remain sorely in need of attention: women's health, immigration, and same-sex marriage. On Tuesday, President Obama and Governor Romney will meet at Hofstra University to answer questions on both foreign and domestic policies from undecided voters in the Nassau County area. In town hall format, each candidate will have two minutes to respond and neither will be allowed a closing statement.
Near the end of the vice presidential debate, Martha Raddatz asked Joe Biden and Paul Ryan to speak personally about abortion, given the candidates' religious perspectives. Biden answered that he accepts Catholic teachings and is personally pro-life but said, “ I refuse to impose that on others."
Ryan also reflected on his belief that life begins at conception, saying, “The policy of a Romney administration is to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”
These responses barely scratch the surface. Considering the next president's Supreme Count appointees would have the power to overturn Roe v. Wade and anti-abortion legislation is popping up in various states. For example, the Virginia legislature passing a bill that would require ultrasounds as a preliminary procedure to abortion.
Women's issues haven't gotten their due, not even close. But at least they were mentioned - unlike immigration. We have the basics, that Romney opposes the Dream Act while Obama has passed down an executive order deferring the deportation of young, undocumented workers and students for two years. But if immigration remains on the sidelines in Tuesday's debate, it's highly likely we won't get a good look at what long-term immigration reform could look like after the two-year deferrals have expired.
And then there's same-sex marriage. A 2011 study from The Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law shows that 11% of the population, or 25 million Americans, acknowledge some degree of same-gender sexual attraction. Again, the candidates have vastly different views - the Obama adminstration repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the president vocally affirmed his support of same-sex marriage, stopping short of introducing federal legislation for marriage equality. Meanwhile, in his losing campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1994, Mitt Romney claimed he'd be "better than Ted [Kennedy] for gay rights." He has also referred to gay men and lesbians as "perverse" and repeatedly touted his belief that marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. Tuesday's debate seems like the perfect opportunity to clarify his stance.
Women's health, LGBT equality, and immigration are highly relevent social concerns that factor into the decision of who should be the President of the United States. Let's hope Tuesday's debate treats them as such.