Tuesday, August 31, 2004
The Republican party's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy (updated)
The ending of Ed Schrock's political career was heartily deserved—make no mistake about it. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Schrock was about as anti-gay as they come.
In 2000, the Virginian-Pilot said of Schrock that he favored ending the Clinton administration's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. He supported asking enlistees whether they have had homosexual experiences in an effort to try to keep gays from serving. [emphasis added]
Maybe he was just trying to find a date.
"You're in the showers with them, you're in the bunk room with them, you're in staterooms with them," Schrock told the Virginian-Pilot. "You just hope no harm would come by folks who are of that persuasion. It's a discipline thing."
Schrock makes it sound as if the military were facing a pest-control problem. Something like chiggers.
But what struck me in the Republican reaction was this—
Mark L. McKinney, chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Committee, said he had not talked directly to Schrock. "It's a shame that he had to resign because of a Web site that is trying to push a point of view ... but ... I have to believe that this was the reason why he stepped down."
Well, excuse me, but if anyone was trying to "push a point of view," it was Congressman Ed Schrock. And the reason he is stepping down is that he was exposed as the hypocrite that he is.
But this remark also reveals a more fundamental truth about the Republicans—they actually don't give a damn whether someone is gay. It is the agenda that matters to them, and sexual politics is only one of their many "wedge" issues, which they exploit at their convenience.
In Florida, such behavior has been on display in full feather. Yesterday's state primary election saw Mel Martinez defeat Bill McCollum for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat made vacant by the retirement of Democrat Bob Graham.
[Martinez] was widely criticized for an ad that suggested his leading opponent, retired congressman Bill McCollum, was a supporter of gay rights because McCollum favored federal hate-crime laws that had bipartisan approval. Martinez, who resigned as secretary of housing and urban development to run for the Senate, also sent out a flier that said McCollum was "the new darling of homosexual extremists."
Martinez collected 45 percent of the vote, with 84 percent of precincts reported, easily outdistancing McCollum, who received 31 percent.
Now both these guys are nasty pieces of work. During the Clinton impeachment proceedings, Bill McCollum acted as one of Clinton's prosecutors. When election time came around, the voters threw him out, which is as rare for a sitting Congressman as a thought in Bush's head.
As the campaigns neared the finish line, the two Republican contenders got down to the business of outing each other's employees. The Tampa Tribune reported on a conference call with Martinez supporters:
During the call, in which the Martinez backers assailed what they called the "gay agenda," a journalist asked about reports - published in alternative newspapers and circulated widely among Florida Christian conservatives via email - that two Martinez campaign staffers are gay.
"Whether he has people working for him, as long as they're not doing anything to promote that agenda, it's none of our business," replied Michael Bowman, executive director of the Concerned Women for America Political Action Committee.
Stemberger, the Florida Family Focus leader, tried to counter by saying McCollum has employed a political consultant who is gay.
So the Republican policy of "don't ask, don't tell" with regard to their own officeholders, candidates and staff is the very policy in the military against which they have contended so mightily.
After reading this post, an alert reader sent in this little gem from today's Democracy Now show:
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, Barbara and Jenna Bush make their national television debut at the Republican National Convention last night in New York. Their plans for September 11? Well, according to some reports, they will be at their beautician's wedding. He's been with his partner for many years though the twins' spokesperson has not confirmed or refused to confirm or deny that they would be at the wedding of a gay couple.