Hypocrisy? What Hypocrisy?
Hi! This is Kathy from Birmingham Blues. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to guest-post at one of my favorite blogs. For the insomniacs and/or international readers, here’s something to get started. This story broke at the end of last week, but it’s an ongoing concern for those of us who want to see equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.
Republicans on Capitol Hill love to play the gay card, but according to gay staffers, most of them don’t mean a word they say.
…many gay men are key aides to Republican legislators, powerful silent partners in winning elections by pledging allegiance to religious “values voters” ever on the alert against “the homosexual agenda.”
This dichotomy — or hypocrisy, depending on who’s doing the labeling — has been forced out of the closet by the page scandal, just as surely as [former Congressman Mark] Foley.
“You have to separate the marketing from the reality. The reality is, these members are not homophobic. For the most part, they’re using this marketing to play to our base and stay in power. They have to turn out the votes,” said David Duncan, once a board member of the Lesbian and Gay Congressional Staff Association and a former top aide to Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio), who last week pleaded guilty to corruption charges linked to the Abramoff scandal.
Dichotomy or hypocrisy, depending on who’s doing the labeling? The only ones who wouldn’t label it “hypocrisy” are the Republican congress members who play this little game and the staffers who go along with it in order to stay in power.
Andrew Sullivan, the openly gay conservative columnist, calls the Republican leadership “closet-tolerant.”
“They’re tolerant of gay people but they have to keep quiet about it because their base would go crazy if they ever express it. That’s the bottom line,” Sullivan said. “They have this acute cognitive dissonance, which is a polite way of saying hypocrisy.”
No need to be polite, Andrew; it is hypocrisy.
In their day-to-day dealings, even the most conservative Republicans can display an ease with normalizing relations with gay people. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) ranks No. 3 in Senate leadership and has likened homosexuality to bestiality. A rumor erupted in summer 2005 that his chief spokesman, Robert Traynham, was gay. When Traynham confirmed the rumor, Santorum promptly rushed to his defense, issuing a release calling his aide “a trusted friend . . . to me and my family.”
Gee, that Rick is a great guy, taking up for his gay staffer. It sounds a lot like “some of my best friends are black”. Too bad he didn’t consider his staffer’s feelings — or those of the LGBT citizens of Pennsylvania — before he raised the specter of man on dog sex.
A Republican strategist [speaking anonymously, natch, out of fear for his job] who has served in several key positions during his 17-year career on the Hill said: “Most of these Congress members would be perfectly happy if they didn’t have to vote on another gay issue. For some it is an issue. For some . But the truth is, a lot of members are more tolerant than their voting records would have you believe. Look at [Rep. Roy] Blunt [R-Mo.], [Rep. Eric] Cantor [R-Va.], [Rep. Adam] Putnam [R-Fla.]. They know gay people. They have gay friends. But they speak out against gay rights. They have to. That’s where the votes are.” All three voted to amend the Constitution to define marriage as being only between a man and a woman.
“They know gay people. They have gay friends. But they speak out against gay rights. They have to. That’s where the votes are.” But gay staffers continue to work for and support people like this, people who publicly call them dangerous perverts who must be stopped, people who validate every gay-hating nut out there who thinks it’s just fine to kick the shit out of the queers.
David Duncan, Ney’s former aide, says, “My boss’s public position didn’t bother me at all. If that’s the sacrifice that I have to make to keep my party in power, so be it.” That’s nice, David, but you’re not the one making the real sacrifice. You were safe in your cushy job while millions of LGBT citizens lived in fear of losing theirs — no federal employment protection for them, remember, David? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You kept your powerful position by refusing to challenge the party’s public antipathy toward, uh, you, while so many of your LGBT brothers and sisters and their allies in the straight community spoke out and gave their time and money to guarantee an equality that you don’t consider important. Shame on you and all the other staffers like you.
And shame on the Republican congress members who publicly bash gays for gain while benefiting from their political expertise.