The Mark Foley affair threatens an unholy alliance between the Religious Right and gay Republicans that helped re-elect President Bush in 2004.
Religious conservatives blamed the former Republican congressman’s long-rumored but just-confirmed homosexuality for his alleged fondness for cyber sex with underage boys.
Conservative blogs, meanwhile, pointed fingers at gay GOP staffers who led the Foley investigation, implying a cover-up by homosexuals trying to protect one of their own.
At the same time, activists circulated a list of gay Republican staff members in anger over what they view as hypocrisy by lawmakers like Foley, closet homosexuals who vote for policies that hurt gays.
Amid concern the scandal could amount to an “October surprise” for Democrats by suppressing religiously motivated Republican votes, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins last week encouraged evangelicals to focus on the “real issue,” which he identified as the link between pedophilia and homosexuality.
Perkins claimed that 86 percent of child molesters are gay or bisexual. Others challenged the statistic.
A widely quoted December 1998 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example,reported that 98 percent of male perpetrators who had sexually abused boys were identified as heterosexuals in their communities.
The San Francisco Chronicle quoted an FRC spokeswoman who said the figure quoted by Perkins came from an October 2001 article in the journal the Archives of Sexual Behavior, but the newspaper couldn’t find the data there.
Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute, an anti-gay-rights group, is one researcher who reports higher proportions of homosexuals among sexual predators, mostly because of how he counts homosexuals.
If a man who is married, has children and identifies as heterosexual molests a male child, according to the Chronicle, Cameron counts that man as gay.
Gay Republicans accused religious conservatives of using the Foley scandal to demonize homosexuals.
Patrick Sammon, executive vice president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a grassroots group that supports gay rights within the GOP, said Perkins and other Religious Right leaders were “using the situation to push their anti-gay agenda.”
Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center accused Perkins of “fear-mongering accusations that blame societal ills on a particular social group.”
Other observers, meanwhile, focused on speculation the Republican Party was betrayed by gay men trying to hide misconduct by one of their own.
Conservative blogs and other media reported that a roster of alleged gay GOP aides on Capitol Hill described as “The List” was making the rounds.
The reference presumably is to a blog called blogACTIVE, which has tracked so-called hypocrites in government since July 2004. A list on the site “outs” politicians including Foley, along with high-level aides in offices of conservative senators Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.).
In addition to politicians, the site also includes names of children of prominent social conservatives who are widely rumored to be gay.
The site outed the son of “Left Behind” author Tim LaHaye in 2005 as being openly gay. Lee LaHaye is chief financial officer of Concerned Women for America, a Religious Right organization led by his mother, Beverly LaHaye. Along with his parents, Lee LaHaye is listed as a member of the Council on National Policy, a far-right think tank.
Another name, John Schlafly, the eldest son of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, reportedly admitted he is a homosexual after being outed by a gay publication in 1992. He works for Eagle Forum, an organization started by his mother. Despite being a leading critic of what the Religious Right calls the “homosexual agenda,” Phyllis Schafly told the Boston Globe in 2004 she isn’t bothered by her son’s sexual orientation.
”It’s not a problem for anybody but the press,” she said. ”He is very supportive of everything I do. He’s a good lawyer and very helpful. He is not a proponent of same-sex marriage.”
Another Religious Right leader, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, defended criticism he hadn’t been vocal enough in his criticism of Republican leaders by repeating a rumor that former Rep. Foley had been “pranked” by House pages.
“As it turns out, Mr. Foley has had illicit sex with no one that we know of, and the whole thing turned out to be what some people are now saying was a–sort of a joke by the boy and some of the other pages,” Dobson said.
Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy for Focus on the Family, chimed in. “That word, homosexuality, does not appear in mainstream media coverage of this,” he said. “They will not let anybody know that he [Foley] is a homosexual, and this drive for sex with teenagers and young people, which is prevalent among homosexual men–and that’s a statement they absolutely hate to have said–that is what’s driving this, and that is what is not being reported.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
Previous related story:
Religious Right Muted in Criticism of Foley