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Eating Their Own: Outing Graham and the Price of Gay-Baiting on The Right

by Cody Daigle on April 21, 2010

in Bigotry Watch,Cody Daigle,Discrimination,Politics

What do bank voles, wolf spiders, house finches and the Right Wing have in common?

They all have been observed to eat their own.

The right-wing group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) and its leader, William Gheen, have released a press release officially asking Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to “make his homosexual lifestyle public knowledge in the interest of political integrity and national security.” Gheen is concerned about Graham’s lobbying for Republican support of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Amnesty Bill, a piece of legislation aiming to legalize millions of illegal immigrants.

(This is Gheen’s second stab at outing Graham. On April 17, at Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina, Gheen heckled Graham about his sexuality during a speech, and the video of the heckling went viral.)

Here’s Gheen’s reasoning for demanding Graham to out himself:

“U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham is gay and while many people in South Carolina and Washington D.C. know that, the general public and Graham’s constituents do not. I personally do not care about Graham’s private life, but in this situation his desire to keep this a secret may explain why he is doing a lot of political dirty work for others who have the power to reveal his secrets. Senator Graham needs to come out of the closet inside that log cabin so the public can rest assured he is not being manipulated with his secret.”

He also adds this:

“Barney Frank has more integrity and bravery than Senator Lindsey Graham right now. When you are a U.S. Senator, the public deserves to know what might influence your decisions. Obama and Napolitano know about Senator Graham, now it is time for the rest of the country to know.”

It’s interesting to unwrap some of the core beliefs here:

1. Senator Graham’s possible homosexuality is something the general public deserves to know in order to judge him as a senator.

2. The only reason Graham would work with his political opponents on a piece of legislation is, well, blackmail.

3. Being a gay person is such a horror of a thing that Graham would defy his core principles to hide it and his opponents would threaten to explose him in order to use him.

4. Your homosexuality can influence your decisions on issues completely unrelated to that homosexuality.

Now, where would a right-winger get such notions about the gay community and gayness in general?

It seems that the Right’s embrace of gay-baiting to win elections and influence voters has come back to bite them in the you-know-where. Years of thinly and not-so-thinly veiled expressions of homophobia from folks like Rick Santorum (who compared our relationships to adultery and incest), Rush Limbaugh (who once suggested most parents would abort a child they knew would be gay), Sally Kern (who compared gay people to terrorists), Michelle Bachmann (who suggests that gay people suffer from mental disorders), Virginia Foxx (who called Matthew Shepard’s murder a “hoax”), George Bush (who advocated for a Constitutional amendment to prevent gay marriage) and countless others have done their job.

The Right now considers gays suspect. And now, when they suspect one of “those people” are among their flock, they’re ready to follow the rhetoric to its inevitable end and destroy him as well.

I hope the purveyors of anti-gay rhetoric on the Right are taking note of Gheen’s attack on Graham. This is what lies at the end of the road that demonizes an entire community of people for political gain.

They should take note, because when the believers of their other rhetorical cause du jour — the rhetoric of anti-liberal violence — reaches their inevitable end, the results will be far more destructive.

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