Homosexuality playing a part in political matters

As Mark Foley prepares to enter the race for the United States senate, there is little doubt that he has what it takes to uphold Republican values. In fact Foley’s recent behavior has already proven him to be the model Republican: selfish and socially irresponsible.

Rep. Mark Foley, a Florida Republican with dreams of a Senate seat in 2004, recently held a press conference with the intention of putting to rest rumors surrounding his sexuality once and for all; ironically, he has accomplished the precise opposite. Just days before the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel planned to run an article addressing the issue of Foley’s sexuality, Foley himself called a press conference in which he stated that, regarding his sexuality, he is simply “not saying.” While everyone has a fundamental right to privacy, silence in this instance is unacceptable, particularly considering the political track record concerning gay rights.

In late April, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania made the following statement during an interview with the Associated Press: “I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. As I would with acts of other, what I would consider to be, acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships. And 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.” When these remarks briefly came under attack, Santorum released another statement in which he refused to apologize: “I do not need to give an apology based on what I said and what I’m saying now, I think this is a legitimate public policy discussion. These are not, you know, ridiculous, you know, comments. These are very much a very important point.” It should also be noted that following 9/11, Santorum wrote fundraising letters on behalf of an anti-gay group lobbying for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. This is of course in addition to occupying the No. 3 seat in the Senate GOP.

This kind of blatant bigotry is nothing new, however. In 1996, the Dole Presidential Campaign refused a check from the Log Cabin Republicans once it was discovered that they were a primarily gay organization, only to later accept the check after the matter was made public. This was the same year that the Defense of Marriage Act became law, an act supported by Republicans and Democrats alike that gave the individual states “the power to avoid recognizing same-sex marriages in other states.” These acts of homophobia came into practice following the most appalling policy of them all, the United States Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. A policy that makes it permissible to be both gay and in the military as long as the individual is willing to hide his or her sexuality.

This issue of hiding is at the heart of the selfishness and irresponsibility of Mark Foley. In publicly refusing to reveal his sexual orientation Foley is attempting to say that the matter of a person’s sexual orientation is not relevant whereas the leaders of his political party have clearly said the exact opposite. If Foley is straight but refuses to clarify what does it accomplish aside from causing people to think he is gay but too cowardly to out himself. If Foley is gay than quite simply he is too cowardly to out himself. Silence in this instance is a statement that homosexuals have something to hide, that being gay is something that should not be acknowledged. This matter cannot afford to be simplified down to a person’s right to privacy. Everyone does have a right to privacy but people in the public eye, especially those hoping to represent the people, must live with a certain amount of their lives under a microscope. The truth is people never react in this manner when it is suspected that they might be heterosexual. If this were truly a matter of privacy instead of fear, why doesn’t Foley speak out against politicians who parade around with their spouses and children? Isn’t that an example of someone fairly clearly flaunting his or her sexuality?

In his very public refusal to disclose his sexuality Foley is like Booker T. Washington urging the former slaves to throw down their buckets where they are and simply accept what is given to them. Foley is attempting to say something is not an issue when it so clearly is, and in the wake of Senator Santorum’s remarks it is not enough to simply hold a press conference and say otherwise. Nothing has ever changed without some kind of action being taken, and action cannot be taken when the people who should be leading the charge are hiding.