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Views: No Middle Ground
by Michelangelo Signorile
2004-03-10

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The irony couldn't have been more chilling when George W. Bush was questioned about his support for the hate amendment—aka the federal marriage amendment—during a meeting with German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Here is Bush, standing next to a leader from a country that has certainly seen its share of hate in the 20th century, but which now has among the most enlightened policies in Europe regarding gays, who have partnership rights in Germany.

'I believe it is important to affirm that marriage of a man and woman is ideal,' Bush said, 'and the job of the president is to drive policy toward the ideal.'

The ideal? Sounds frighteningly like a certain previous German leader who had his own ideals—physical ideals, racial ideals, ethnic ideals, among many others—that he too made government policy. Can you imagine what was going through Schroeder's mind?

You can't help but make such parallels—nor should you refuse to—when a government goes down the path of constructing laws to discriminate against a broadly hated minority. And looking back in history, it's important also to ask the question of whether members of a group under attack should be working for a government constructing laws against it—going along with a program that could lead to their demise—or should step down and fight as hard as they can.

'I would,' answered Log Cabin Republicans communications director Mark Mead when I asked him if any gay person working to reelect George W. Bush should resign now. The context of the discussion was Mary Cheney, the vice president's lesbian daughter to whom I'd written an open letter in this column, asking her to take a stand and to leave the campaign should Bush push the hate amendment.

The column received an extraordinary response, with hundreds of e-mails pouring in from all over the country and from as far off as India, China, Germany, Italy and Japan. It inspired a Web site where people can write their own letters to Mary—DearMary.com—founded by John Aravosis and Robin Tyler. Soon enough, the story of DearMary.com landed in the pages of Newsweek and on Page A3 of the Washington Post. CNN's Aaron Brown jumped on it, followed by Paula Zahn.

Mead's response to me wasn't just about Mary Cheney, however; it was about any gay or lesbian person working for this administration, who, by default, is working to reelect Bush. True, I caught Mead in those first few hours after Bush preempted television programming to announce this new war on gays, and Log Cabin has a way of spinelessly backpedaling. (Already, Log Cabin is waffling in the mainstream press, saying that while they have to fight the amendment they don't want to 'hurt the president.') I've already seen one gay Republican quoted idiotically saying that he would vote for Bush but wouldn't now be campaigning for him. And Patrick Guerriero, the executive director of Log Cabin, has said the Dear Mary campaign 'crosses the lines of decency.' The marriage amendment doesn't?

Nonetheless, I'm holding Mead to his word. And so, I'd like to ask a few more folks to follow his advice and tell Bush to shove it.

'Hundreds of loyal gay and lesbian Republicans and our allies serve in the Bush Administration, work on his re-election campaign and work for GOP members of Congress,' claims Log Cabin's press release on its Web site in which the group criticized Bush for supporting the amendment. If it's true that there are 'hundreds' within the administration itself—I can count the number on one hand, so the rest must be cowering in the closet—then they need to do what Mead says he would do, pronto. Anybody working for the administration is lending his or her credibility to a man who's playing a vicious game of politics in which they are the sacrificial lambs.

It's time for Michael Guest, ambassador to Romania, to pack up his things, say goodbye to Bucharest and hand in his resignation to the president in public protest. A 20-year veteran of the diplomatic service, Guest was nominated in June, 2001 and won easy confirmation while conservatives became incensed. But here he is now, representing a government and a president who would strip him of his rights.

If Donald Capoccia—vice-chair of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and a well-known New York businessman and ally of George Pataki—has any integrity, he will follow Mead's advice and speak out against Bush while quitting his post in disgust. Scott Evertz, special assistant to Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, should do the same.

Then there's Abner Mason, a former Log Cabin official and now of the presidential AIDS commission. Along with the other gay men on the commission, he needs to walk out and slam the door shut. I'm sure Mason and the other gays on the commission would say their presence is necessary to counter the conservatives on the commission. But they haven't gotten a thing done anyway; the abstinence-only brigade has won out. It's time to hand it all over to the fundies, and use their energy to work as hard as they can to get rid of this president. Ditto for Dr. Joel O'Neill, the so-called White House AIDS czar.

The same goes for the rest of the 'hundreds' of gay men and lesbians Log Cabin says are working in the White House and also on the Hill, as either staffers or members of Congress—including the circumspect ones like Florida Rep. Mark Foley, who was outed as gay last year and hasn't stated his position yet on the amendment. They should know that closet doors won't be respected in this war, as activists compile information on everyone's sexual orientation in the House and Senate.

Heterosexual members of Congress should also know their infidelities and the kinkiest of their sexual activities are fair game. The president, after all, wants us to live by 'the ideal.' Surely, he'll want to know how many of the Republicans in Congress and in the White House meet that 'ideal' too, won't he?

Signorile hosts a radio show on Sirius OutQ, stream 149. www.signorile.com .


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