Rich: Outing the Gay Old Party

Published: Saturday October 14, 2006

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Frank Rich has taken aim at GOP hypocrisy regarding gays in his column in the Sunday New York Times.

Rich argues that Republicans employ gay staff members at the highest levels, yet they champion anti-gay measures, even while neglecting solutions for pressing issues of the day. He points to the swearing-in on Tuesday of a high ranking gay State Department official, Mark Dybul: At the event, Secretary of State Condi Rice referred to Dybul's partner's mother as his "mother-in-law."

"Could wedding bells be far behind?" Rich asks snarkily.

Rich's "outing" takes a swipe at such staunch gay bashers as Sens. Rick Santorum, James Inhofe and Mel Martinez, all of whom have employed gay staff members in key positions.

Excerpts from the column:

If anything good has come out of the Foley scandal, it is surely this: The revelation that the political party fond of demonizing homosexuals each election year is as well-stocked with trusted and accomplished gay leaders as virtually every other power center in America. "What you're really seeing is the Republican Party on the Hill," says Rich Tafel, the former leader of the gay Log Cabin Republicans whom George W. Bush refused to meet with during the 2000 campaign. "Across the board gay people are in leadership positions." Yet it is this same party's congressional leadership that in 2006 did almost nothing about government spending, Iraq, immigration or ethics reform, but did drop everything to focus on a doomed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The split between the Republicans' outward homophobia and inner gayness isn't just hypocrisy; it's pathology. Take the bizarre case of Karl Rove. Every one of his Bush campaigns has been marked by a dirty dealing of the gay card, dating back to the lesbian whispers that pursued Ann Richards when Bush ousted her as Texas governor in 1994. Yet we now learn from "The Architect," the recent book by the Texas journalists James Moore and Wayne Slater, that Rove's own (and beloved) adoptive father, Louis Rove, was openly gay in the years before his death in 2004. This will be a future case study for psychiatric clinicians as well as historians.
So will Kirk Fordham, the former congressional aide who worked not only for Mark Foley but also for such gay-baiters as Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma (who gratuitously bragged this year that no one in his family's "recorded history" was gay) and Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida (who vilified his 2004 Republican primary opponent, a fellow conservative, as a tool of the "radical homosexual agenda"). Then again, even Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania senator who brought up incest and "man-on-dog" sex while decrying same-sex marriage, has employed a gay director of communications. In the GOP such switch-hitting is as second nature as cutting taxes.