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It is fitting, truly fitting, that the political fortunes of a homophobic party may rest on the actions of a gay sexual predator in that party’s midst.
Call it some good old fashion karma coming round. When it comes to homosexuality, the hypocrisy of the GOP has been waiting in the closet, just waiting to come out and bring the party down.
From President George W. Bush’s call for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the rabid religious right’s claim that homosexuality is a sin requiring eternal damnation, Republicans have always preached intolerance towards gays while looking the other way when it came to one in their midst.
For Republicans, the policy has been more than "don’t ask, don’t tell." It was more like "if asked, don’t admit."
When I moved to Washington in 1981 to work on Capitol Hill for GOP Congressman Paul Findley, a dominant political force in town was The National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), headed by the flamboyant Terry Dolan, a closet gay man whose sexual leanings fell under the category of "open secret."
Most Republicans, and just about everyone else in Washington, knew Dolan was gay. They just didn’t talk about it and, in those days, the media looked the other way when it came to sexual preference. NCPAC openly advocated the anti-gay agenda of the right wing while Dolan cruised the gay bars of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Dolan epitomized the conservatism of Ronald Reagan and the GOP’s right-wing. Reagan advanced the party’s anti-gay agenda by cutting funding for research on AIDS. Ironically, Dolan would die of the disease.
In 1984, I worked with The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and found a number of gay men and women working in the party’s ranks. At Bullfeathers, a popular Capitol Hill Bar near the NRCC headquarters, I asked one gay field representative why he worked for a party with an anti-gay agenda.
"I have a mortgage to pay," he said.
When Dolan died of AIDS, GOP politicians and operatives expressed public "shock" at learning of his homosexuality while some right-wingers like the Rev. Jerry Falwell called Dolan’s death "punishment from God." Such comments drove Republican gays further underground but party leaders continued to look the other way when they found a "homo in the woodpile" as long as that gay man or woman stayed quiet.
While a number of gay Democratic politicians public embrace their homosexuality, gay Republicans usually stay silent. Those who choose to come out of the closet do so at political risk.
Former Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned last week in the ever-escalating scandal over his inappropriate and unbelievable behavior towards young male Congressional pages, revealed his homosexuality through his lawyer only after leaving office.
Yet his fellow Republicans knew Foley was gay. They just didn’t talk about it or acknowledge the fact as long as the Florida congressman toed the line. Like other Republicans, Foley’s hypocrisy knew no bounds. He would vote for the conservative, often anti-gay Republican agenda while covertly living as a closet homosexual. He would sponsor legislation to protect children from sexual predators while he, himself, stalked teenage pages.
When Republican leaders learned about Foley’s predatory behavior, they did nothing. They looked the other way because their first instinct is to protect their own, no matter that the cost.
Now that hypocrisy is in the open and the cost may be great to the party of the elephant.
And rightly so.