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Archive for the ‘Gay Issues’ Category

This morning, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney introduced columnist Ann Coulter by pronouncing, “I am happy to hear that after you hear from me, you will hear from Ann Coulter. That is a good thing. Oh yeah!” After her speech Coulter, with a smug and knowing smile, admitted, “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.”

Conservative talkers will undoubtedly claim that Coulter’s comments were a joke and blame the mainstream media for not giving Coulter the benefit of the doubt, as they had done for Kerry; if the media rationalized Kerry’s embarrassing comments about our troops as a joke gone awry, why then, are they taking Coulter’s comments so seriously?

Well, for three reasons, really. First, Coulter has a history and a penchant for making erroneous, sensationalist, and attention grabbing comments orchestrated to manufacture controversy and promote the Coulter brand of political discourse to narrow minded Conservatives. Second, as Think Progress has reported, previously, Coulter has put “even money” on Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) “[c]oming out of the closet,” said Bill Clinton shows “some level of latent homosexuality,” and called Vice President Al Gore a “total fag.” And third, the term ‘fag’ is associated with gay-bashing, nasty homophobia, and even murderous hate crimes. According to one source, “it is often claimed that the derivation is associated directly with faggot meaning “bundle of sticks for burning”, since homosexuals were supposedly burnt at the stake in medieval England. This, however, was never an established punishment for homosexuality in England, although, according to one source, those accused of homosexual acts were sometimes doused in fuel and used in place of sticks for the burning of supposed witches.”

If the Republican Party establishment does not condemn such language, the very history of which promotes violence against a minority population, their silence should be interpreted as a tacit endorsement of hate speech. If this party wishes to advance their agenda and rally its base by promoting hateful commentary, they are no better than the homophobes who kill homosexuals; Coulter’s rhetorical slur is a white collar version of a violent gay-bashing.

— Igor Volsky

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with Amanda Waas

Conservative reactionaries have expressed their dislike for the ‘homosexual agenda’ and their tentacles have penetrated the American political system. Strong evangelical efficacy has ensured political compliance from weak politicians.

Yet human consideration must supersede short term political gain. An individual’s humanity should not be sacrificed to votes. Public relations experts and high priced political consultants make this nearly impossible. To take their advice is to win political office; to go against the tide is to accomplish a structural social adjustment (and a personal disservice). The former is characteristic of the majority; the latter requires a higher level of social awareness and political courage.

Unpopular positions are sacrificed to the convenience of branding. Society defines appropriate behavior and condemns so-called deviant lifestyles. Branding along sexual preference serves calculated ends. Promoting sexual orientation to the pinnacle of personal characterization dehumanizes the characterized and divides the citizenry.

Shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (or Girl) mask uncomfortable realities to amuse the public. But not all gay men are interior decorators and not all lesbians are mechanics. Most resemble the cultural norm. Meanwhile media conglomerates continue to profit from avoiding this truth and pandering to America’s comfortable generalizations of homosexuality.

[More]

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My last column addressed the army’s recruitment shortage. “For the first time since 2001, the Army began the fiscal year with just 18.4 percent of its recruitment goal met … that amounts to less than half of last year’s figure and falls well below the Army’s goal of 25 percent.”

The cost of troop recruitment has also gone up. The army is forced to offer large bonuses to secure troop reenlistment and is currently experiencing difficulty filling undesirable (truck drivers in Iraq) and highly-skilled positions. While minorities and the financially underprivileged are already overrepresented in the forces, they are becoming harder to recruit. (See Feb. 25 column). Yet their openings are not being filled by middle class or upper class children. We, like Dick Cheney, “have better things to do.” Meanwhile, our army is overstretched and underprotected.

America is at war yet it refuses to allow all those who volunteer to join her armed forces. Some restrictions rest on credible weight or strength minimums, others are rooted in institutional discrimination. Last Thursday the General Accounting Office found that under President Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, hundreds of highly skilled troops were forced out of the forces after it was discovered that they were gay or lesbian. The American tax payer financed this disenfranchisement to the tune of $200 million. “The estimated cost was for recruiting and training replacements from 1994 through 2003 for the 9,488 troops discharged from the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps.”

Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy allows gays to serve in the armed forces as long as they do not take part in homosexual activity or disclose their sexual orientation. Of the gays and lesbians pushed out of the service, 757 held hard-to-fill jobs and 322 spoke Arabic, Farsi, Korean, and Mandarin, “which the Pentagon has called critical skills amid threats from terrorists.” U.S. intelligence agencies and the 9/11 Commission have lamented the death of properly trained and educated translators. Many believe that sufficient interpretation of pre-9/11 communications could have resulted in preemptive action or greater threat awareness.

Yet conservative ideology triumphs over American safety. A majority’s personal distaste for homosexual activity is extended into the public policy sector and its discriminatory tentacles serve to strangle the opportunity of a minority and endanger the whole. American fear of homosexuality transcends the terror of Islamic fundamentalists.

Fear should not supercede morality. Discrimination against a sexual preference is as immoral as racial segregation or gender inequity. While gay marriage has replaced social security as the “third rail” of American politics, its acceptance is forthcoming. Until then Americans deserve a reassessment of Clinton’s ill fated military policy.

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