October 5, 2006
Republicans in Congress have created the very climate in Washington that may be their undoing. The fear they have whipped up about the gay community may decapitate the GOP leadership — including House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
GOP leaders have exploited the “family values” mantra, while all along vilifying the most vulnerable among us — gays, minorities and women.
Yet the minute one of their own has a lapse of judgment or behaves despicably, they first try to cover it up, then try to deflect blame, and finally turn on each other. The irony is that they have fallen into their own trap.
Conservatives have been quick to point fingers. Mark Foley is blaming alcohol and predatory priests, Hastert is blaming the media. And Christian fundamentalists are blaming the entire gay community.
The Family Research Council and other far-right voices were quick to exploit this current scandal by saying that tolerance of gay people allowed Foley to secretly hit on pages in Congress. The organization acts as if sexual harassment has never happened in the heterosexual community, and it refuses to acknowledge predatory behavior by congressmen toward female pages.
But an article from 1998 in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows, as other studies have, that 98 percent of male pedophiles are heterosexual.
This issue has nothing to do with sexual orientation. The scandal has to do with abuse of power and those who covered it up to save face.
If organizations such as the Family Research Council have their way, Americans will learn nothing from these scandals. These groups will continue to spread false information about gay people being a threat to children. The saddest part is that this smokescreen will only continue to hurt children because parents and law-enforcement leaders will look for the bogeyman in the wrong places.
The facts continue to show that the real threat to children may be the people you least expect. Researchers and advocates for children agree that it is not gays who are the problem — but people with sexual disorders. The smokescreen of anti-gay profiling has clouded the dialogue about how to protect children and has needlessly fostered a climate of discrimination.
We shouldn’t be misled by all the distortions surrounding the Foley scandal.
Sean Kosofsky is the director of policy for the Triangle Foundation (www.tri.org), Michigan’s leading civil rights organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. He can be reached at email@example.com.