The political atmosphere in Washington, D.C., has changed to one of a government of national unity...except for the far right wing flapping away on their pet issue of the homosexual menace. The by now well known remarks by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson about gays and liberals being responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11 brought a rolling of eyes on Capitol Hill.
The newspaper The Hill said the pair "have damaged their reputations." Conservative Rep. Bob Barr ( R-Ga. ) snapped, "Oh, I thought it was stupid." While commentator Rush Limbaugh said, "Suggestions of this kind are one of the reasons why all conservatives get tarred and feathered with this extremist, bigoted, racist, sexist, homophobic label or image that isn't true."
But the harsh reception given Falwell and Robertson from almost all corners of the political spectrum did not stop the Concerned Women for America from putting out a statement Sept. 21 attacking liberals for "trying to rush through perhaps the most divisive agenda in America: 'gay rights.'" They ranted about everything from long-standing congressional legislation to California's domestic-partners bill.
"While the nation mourns and prepares for war, homosexual activists and their allies are trying to capitalize by jamming through their agenda," said Robert Knight. "President Bush should not have to deal with hot-button social issues right now. Americans need to tell their elected representatives to stop this opportunistic assault on morality."
The group also attacked the "outrageous behavior" of Republican D.C. City Councilman David Catania in a Sept. 25 letter to Rep. Joseph Knollenberg ( R-Mich. ) who chairs the Subcommittee on Appropriations for the District of Columbia. It asked the congressman "to issue a public statement disavowing Mr. Catania's words and actions."
In remarks made on July 21 at a panel on "Redefining the Gay Agenda," Catania vividly described conversations with officials of the Salvation Army in which he asserted their need to comply with local nondiscrimination laws that protect gays, when using locally administered grant money. The Salvation Army quickly issued a statement to that effect.
The Family Research Council ( FRC ) , in their Sept. 27 "Washington Update," trumpeted "a disturbing trend we have identified in the Bush administration ... . President Bush's implicit endorsement of the homosexual political agenda is ... imparting legitimacy to the homosexual political cause."
Heading their list of grievances was the Sept. 25 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives that ended the ban on implementation of a domestic-partner registry in the District of Columbia. "Doubtless some of these [ 41 ] GOP defectors took a cue from the White House."
FRC president Ken Connor urged "President Bush to reconsider his embrace of this destructive, antifamily political strategy, and reject the advice of those advisers who would undermine marriage and family for the sake of illusory political benefits."
The following day the Family Policy Network railed against the appointment of openly gay Michael Guest, a career foreign service officer, as U.S. Ambassador to Romania. It said, "George W. Bush betrayed American values" with the appointment.
It accused the administration of "manipulative tactics" in not disclosing Guest's "immoral lifestyle" at the time the nomination was made. "It is very disconcerting to see a President who calls himself a Christian hiding grossly immoral conduct of a nominee, so Senate members aren't able to 'advise and consent' with full knowledge." It urged their members to express their outrage to the White House.
Lost in the tirade was any sense of obligation on the part of the homophobes to do their own investigation, or of their allies in the Senate to inform them of Guest's sexual orientation, which surely was mentioned in the FBI background investigation. The group itself relied upon the gay newspaper the Washington Blade as its source of information.
"I don't understand, nor do I pretend to, what the far right is doing," said Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the Human Rights Campaign. "But I think that they are doing some really dumb things" in criticizing Bush and raising gay issues at this time of national unity. "It's just fascinating to me."
"They are showing their true colors," said Kevin Ivers, spokesman for Log Cabin Republicans. "It does not seem that they can handle a united culture, they seem to thrive on division."
It may well be that the outpouring of support for charities directly helping victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack is cutting into the fundraising of these right-wing groups. And they are franticly pushing the hot button of the homosexual menace to try to open the wallets of their hard-core supporters.