When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

08 October 2006

NYT: Foley Case Upsets Gay Republicans’ Tough Balance

A key Republican Party strategy, pandering to social conservatives (especially the evangelical Religious Right) is creating a storm of ugly hypocrisy in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal.

Some gay Republican staffers on the Hill may have finally had enough.

Conservative blogs and Web sites pointed out that gay staff members played principal roles in investigating the Foley case, suggesting that the party was betrayed by gay men trying to hide misconduct by one of their own. In the meantime, a group of gay activists, angered by what they see as hypocrisy by gay Republicans, have begun circulating a document known as The List, a roster of gay Congressional staff members and their Republican bosses.

“You can see where it would be easy for some people to blame gays for something that might bring down the party in Congress,” said Brian Bennett, a gay Republican political consultant. He was a longtime chief of staff to former Representative Robert K. Dornan, Republican of California, who regularly referred to gays as Sodomites.

“I’m just waiting for someone in a position of authority to make this a gay issue,” Mr. Bennett said of the Foley case.

The presence of homosexuals, particularly gay men, in crucial staff positions has been an enduring if largely hidden staple of Republican life for decades, and particularly in recent years. They have played decisive roles in passing legislation, running campaigns and advancing careers.

Known in some insider slang as the Velvet Mafia or the Pink Elephants, gay Republicans tend to be less open about their sexual orientation than their Democratic counterparts. Even though the G.O.P. fashions itself as “the party of Lincoln” and a promoter of tolerance, it is perceived as hostile by many gay men and lesbians. Republicans have promoted a “traditional values” agenda, while some conservatives have turned the “radical gay subculture” into a reliable campaign villain. And there are few visible role models in the party; Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona is the only openly gay Republican in Congress.

Foley Case Upsets Gay Republicans’ Tough Balance - The New York Times

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