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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



by Bob Roehr

This article shared 1133 times since Wed Apr 18, 2001
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Far right social conservatives are apoplectic from learning that the Bush administration has an openly gay person working in the Pentagon. The peeved discovery first appeared late in the day April 10 on the online version of Human Events and was repeated two days later by the Washington Times.

Stephen E. Herbits is serving as a consultant and special assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He is screening job applications to fill political positions within the defense agency. A Pentagon spokesman would confirm Herbits' employment but in keeping with administration policy, said that sexual orientation was irrelevant and would not discuss it.

Herbits, 59, has often passed through the revolving door of government service and the private sector. It began when he was still a law student at Georgetown University and served on the President's Commission on an All Volunteer Armed Force. He also worked on the staff of the U.S. Senate.

Herbits served five secretaries of defense, including Rumsfeld during his first tenure in that office. He later returned to work with Dick Cheney, now Vice President. Another Cheney assistant, press spokesman Pete Williams, was "outed" by gay activists during that period.

In the private sector, he was a senior executive with the Seagram Company and later worked with Window Communications, whose parent company recently bought the gay papers the Washington and New York Blades.

Herbits' community ties include serving on the governing boards of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the National Leadership Coalition on AIDS, and as chair of the AIDS Action Council.

The right was shocked that "a homosexual activist" should be in any position whatsoever, let alone such an important one, within the Bush administration. "It appears that they [ leaders of the Bush administration ] are trying to become the bisexual administration. They are trying to have it both ways," Robert Knight, of the Culture and Family Institute, told the Washington Times.

The Family Research Council's Robert Maginnis feared Herbits would screen out antigay candidates. While the Traditional Values Coalition's Lou Sheldon said, "Herbits' appointment sends a message to Congress that the Defense Department openly supports homosexuals in the military, despite the congressional ban."

"Obviously, the right wing feels that good people should be disqualified simply due to their sexual orientation," said Joel Lawson. He is a public relations consultant with the Lawson Group who worked with Herbits at Window Communications.

"For years, their rallying cry has been, 'no special rights,'" he said. "Well, their reaction to Herbits shows their true colors—no jobs for gay Americans. They are proactively discriminatory, on a jihad."

Steve Ralls, spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, viewed Herbits' employment as "a positive sign" that sexual orientation was not an issue in civilian employment with the military. He did not know if the assignment was temporary.

Rick Rosendall, vice president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, said, "The Bush era may mark the end of the left's perceived monopoly on gay concerns and solidify gay political status in a way that [ President ] Clinton and [ the Human Rights Campaign's Elizabeth ] Birch never could."

Given Herbits' close and long-standing ties to both Rumsfeld and Cheney, it seems likely that the rantings of the homophobes will be ignored.

This article shared 1133 times since Wed Apr 18, 2001
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