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The 2004 election mantra for politicos may well be “It’s homosexuality, stupid,” as Democratic candidates openly court the “gay” vote, and Republicans make quiet incursions into the traditionally Democratic territory – all to the distress of conservative, pro-family groups.
“This is going to be a hot-button issue,” predicts Peter LaBarbera with the Culture and Family Institute at Concerned Women of America, or CWA, the nation’s largest Christian women’s group. “Howard Dean is running on the gay issue. Now Gephardt is jumping on the band wagon. The whole party’s going that way. … Their gamble is that people don’t care, but the Reagan Democrats do care.”
While, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean promotes the law he signed allowing civil unions for homosexuals, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., declared Saturday he backs homosexual adoptions.
“In a world where far too many children are neglected or unwanted, we need to encourage responsible, loving adults to raise children, which is why I support the rights of gays and lesbians to adopt children,” the Associated Press quotes Edwards as saying at a black-tie dinner sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, the nation’s largest homosexual-rights group. HRC seeks the legalization of “gay” marriages and homosexual adoption, federal legislation against employment discrimination and hate crimes related to homosexuality and works toward advancing the battle against HIV/AIDS and for better lesbian health.
HRC’s political action committee – one of the largest in the country – contributed more than $1.2 million in the 2002 election cycle.
Exit polls showed 4 percent of voters in 2000 were homosexual and nearly 75 percent voted for the Democratic Gore-Lieberman ticket. The nine current Democratic candidates are jockeying for that political clout.
“In a crowded race or a close race, an energized and mobilized constituency can make a real difference,” Dave Noble, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, a group that promotes the agenda of “gays” within the party, told the Associated Press. “Right now, we’ve got so many different candidates going after the community, and there’s not one candidate the community has settled upon.”
Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., is hoping he has an edge on his rivals.
As Roll Call first reported, his lesbian daughter, Chrissy Gephardt, will play an active role in drumming up votes for her father’s bid for the White House. The Capitol Hill newspaper reports the Gephardt campaign is shopping for a media outlet to do a “coming out” article of sorts for Chrissy who has so far stayed out of the public eye.
Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo.
Chrissy Gephardt is a social worker in the D.C. area. According to the Gephardt campaign website, she lives with her partner, Amy.
In contrast to Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary, who is also a lesbian but took a more backseat role in her father’s campaign, Gephardt says Chrissy will play a prominent role.
“I want her help in the campaign,” Gephardt told co-host Alan Murray on CNBC’s “Capital Report.” “She’s going to help with gay and lesbian people, but she’s going to help with people all over [the] country. She’s makes a great presentation, believes in a lot of the same things I do and is going to be a big and important part of the campaign, along with my other children and my wife, Jane.”
“She’s a great young woman. She’s doing great work. She’s a social worker here in D.C., and I’m very proud of her,” he said.
LaBarbera told WorldNetDaily he considers the “proud embrace of homosexuality” a “tragedy.”
“[Gephardt] sold his soul long ago when he caved on pro-life during his run for president,” he said.
Moral objections aside, Robert Knight, director of the CWA’s Culture and Family Institute, says conservative, pro-family Americans view the homosexual activist agenda as a grave threat because it hurts those who practice it. He cites a recent San Francisco Health Department report showing a fourfold rise in syphilis among “gay” men, a doubling of the gonorrhea rate, and an increase in many other sexually transmitted diseases specific to homosexual conduct. Knight also notes a new, antibiotic-resistant staph infection is now turning up in “gay” communities in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.
According to Knight, pro-family groups also see homosexual activism as posing a threat to freedom and points to Canadian law that equates broadcasting or publishing Bible verses on homosexuality with committing a hate crime.
“As gay rights policies and laws advance, people who favor marriage and family and who oppose homosexuality are being harassed – not homosexuals,” Knight told GOP National Chairman Marc Racicot during a meeting earlier this month.
Racicot gathered with nearly a dozen pro-family leaders amid their criticism of his meeting with the HRC.
LaBarbera maintains Republicans are just as anxious about courting the “gay” vote as the Democrats, but do so by not taking a stance on the issue. As an example, he points to the Republican leadership’s failure to back Sen. Rick Santorum when he came under attack for defending the Texas sodomy law.
As WorldNetDaily reported, homosexual activists and Democrats urged Republicans to remove Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., from his leadership position, calling his remarks about the Supreme Court case, Lawrence v. Texas, “disparaging an entire group of Americans.”
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.
Asked whether he believed homosexuals should be allowed to have sex, Santorum referred to the Lawrence case, telling the AP: “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”
“These remarks certainly do not reflect the tone of compassionate conservatism espoused by President Bush,” said John Partain, president of the Philadelphia chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, a group of pro-homosexual Republicans. “He’s out of step with mainstream Republicans. He’s aligning himself with the fringe right-wing extremists of the party.”
But an attorney who was present during the March 26 oral arguments told WorldNetDaily Santorum merely echoed the argument of the state of Texas.
When asked whether Bush supported Santorum’s position on the case by WorldNetDaily White House correspondent Les Kinsolving, spokesman Ari Fleischer side-stepped the question and replied, “The president has confidence in Sen. Santorum, both as a senator, as a member of the Senate leadership.”
When pressed on the homosexuality issue, Fleischer said Bush “doesn’t ask that question about people” and called Santorum “an inclusive man.”
“It troubles me to see the Republican leadership so averse to dealing with [the homosexuality issue],” LaBarbera told WorldNetDaily. “They don’t touch it. I don’t know if it’s because of Dick Cheney.”
‘Big Tent’ Party?
Ironically, homosexual activist groups within the GOP also criticized the White House and Republican leadership for “defending” Santorum rather than distancing themselves from his remarks.
“It is difficult to find anything compassionate, conservative or inclusive in Santorum’s statements or in his subsequent failure to publicly apologize for having hurt a valuable part of the American family,” stated Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, an influential Republican “gay” and lesbian organization.
“As we head to 2004, Log Cabin will work tirelessly to convince the Republican Party that campaigning and governing in an inclusive way is the only way to win elections and unite Americans. And, despite this week’s setback, we remain dedicated to implementing a thoughtful two-party strategy as we advance fairness and equality for all Americans in the years ahead,” he continued.
Likewise the Republican Unity Coalition, a “gay-straight alliance,” works to promote greater tolerance within the party and the public at large. It seeks to push the party toward becoming a “Big Tent” Party, with an ultimate mission of making sexual orientation a “non-issue” in the party.
The coalition formed in January 2001 on the day before Bush was sworn into office. Organizers called it an outgrowth of Bush’s election-year meeting with “gay” and lesbian Republican leaders in April 2000, when he publicly welcomed “gay” Americans into his campaign.
Newsweek reports RUC founder, Charles Francis, is an old Bush family friend, who wants to sideline the influence of religious conservatives within the GOP for good.
“Traditional and nontraditional Republicans are not incompatible,” Francis, who is “gay,” told the magazine. “More and more social conservatives are understanding that they have gay friends, colleagues and relatives. What we agree on is much bigger than what divides us – especially after 9-11. The old differences seem minute compared to liberty, personal responsibility and a strong national defense.”
RUC’s membership includes retired Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona, former Congress members Michael Huffington of California and Susan Molinari of New York, and former Los Angeles Mayor Dick Riordan.
Mary Cheney and former President Gerald Ford serve on the coalition’s advisory board.
The “gay” vote proved pivotal for Bush in the 2000 election. Roughly 1 million homosexuals voted for the Bush-Cheney ticket – including an estimated 60,000 in Florida, which Bush carried by fewer than 1000 votes.
Still, Bush drew 15 million votes from the traditional Republican power base – white, evangelical Protestants, Pentecostals and fundamentalists. LaBarbera warns the Republican courtship of the “gay” vote could upset the apple cart.
“You can’t be pro-family and pro-gay at the same time,” he told WND. “They’re going to wind up alienating all sides.
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