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Anything But Straight

by Wayne Besen Friday, Jul. 30, 2004 at 3:09 PM

The way leading right wing operatives often conduct their personal lives is also emblematic of the emptiness of the conservative agenda. And this week, their tiresome values charade once again has been shattered.

July 29, 2004

Falls Church News-Press

Modern conservatism is a fraud. It is the province of hypocrites who stand for no core principles except amassing political power.

Nowhere is hollowness of conservatism more evident than in cynical election year attempts by Congress to ban same-sex marriage. Conservatives have long trumpeted "states rights" as if the mantra were Scripture. Yet, when Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, the GOP pushed for a federal Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage. States rights only seem to matter when conservatives agree with a state's politics.

Fortunately, the Amendment stalled in the Senate, but conservatives in the House wasted no time attempting to defile the Constitution. Last week, the House voted 233-194 to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over same-sex marriage cases. This would deny gay people the fundamental right to have their grievances heard in the courts.

This debate over same-sex marriage has revealed the absolute disdain and utter contempt right wing conservatives have for America's system of justice. They hate the fact that we live in a free country that offers Constitutional guarantees to all citizens. Unable to discriminate under America's rules, they seek to rewrite those rules.

Far from conservative, this is a just plain radical. They want to change this great country from a system of equal access to one where access can only be had for those who conservatives deem equal.

The way leading right wing operatives often conduct their personal lives is also emblematic of the emptiness of the conservative agenda. They champion the ultimate double standard where its standard bearers often live decadently, while calling on the rest of Americans to conform to a strict code of morality.

This week, the tiresome values charade once again has been shattered. The Washington Blade revealed that the homophobic GOP is actually run, to a large degree, by closeted homosexuals. The Blade "outed" Jay Timmons, former chief of staff of Virginia Senator George Allen, and current executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The Blade also revealed that virulently anti-gay Florida Republican Senate nominee Mel Martinez's campaign has two prominent gay staff members. Closeted Kirk Fordham, the former chief of staff of barely closeted Congressman Mark Foley, R-Fla., is now the Finance Director of Martinez. The closeted John Dowless, who used to head Florida's Christian Coalition, is now a consultant on the Martinez campaign helping the candidate reach out to conservative Christians.

These guys are gayer than a Liberace Tupperware party. Yet, they inexplicably offer their talents and labor to a candidate who in a radio ad compared life in America with same-sex marriage to life under Castro in Communist Cuba, "a totalitarian dictator who had no respect for the traditional values of family and faith." If it weren't so sad and woefully pathetic it would make a great Saturday Night Live skit.

The conservative closet is not just for self-loathing homosexuals. Morality guru Bill Bennett who wrote the Book of Virtues turns out to be a closeted high-rolling gambler. Radio wing nut Rush Limbaugh was a closeted prescription drug abuser, even as he abusively railed against druggies. The late Strom Thurmond fathered a black child, while crusading against "race mixing". Newt Gingrich portrayed himself as the savior of the family until he left his second wife for a much younger aide.

And most revealing, the GOP's entire right wing contingent has been crammed into the dark recesses of the closet during GOP convention. One almost has a better chance of running into Barbara Streisand during the Republican convention than Rep. Tom DeLay.

Sure, liberals have moral failings as well. But they appropriately deal with their demons at home, not on the public stage and certainly not by drafting hateful public policy. It is increasingly clear that conservatives don't stand for values they espouse.

Meanwhile, the rest of us suffer as these self-styled moralists gamble, abuse drugs, divorce on demand and frequent gay bars -- while getting elected by opposing these very activities. If Conservatives really want to do something to help their cause they should work on mental healthcare reform. Have you ever seen a group of people so desperately in need of a team of shrinks?

Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book, Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth

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