Monday, November 5, 2012

The End of an Error: How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.

As those countdown clocks tick toward President Bush’s final day in office Jan. 20, let’s not forget the anti-gay “reign of error” that his administration imposed on the United States for the past eight years. Say it with me now: Never again.

Nov. 7, 2000: George W. Bush is “elected” with 25 percent of the gay vote, according to CNN and ABC exit polls. The Uncle Toms over at Log Cabin Republicans, who held a historic meeting with the candidate seven months earlier, deem this “a positive development for our movement.”

Dec. 28, 2000: Bush nominates Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary. When asked about lifting the ban on gays in the military, the future Cabinet member offers a preview of his soon-to-be-infamous verbal gymnastics: “The priorities are in other areas for me.”

Feb. 1, 2001: Despite outright lies during his confirmation hearings, Attorney General John Ashcroft is OK’d by the Senate. The former Missouri senator and governor denied asking a prospective employee, “Do you have the sexual preference of most men?” and opposing the nomination of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg because he’s gay.

June 2001: Claiming he doesn’t believe in “politicizing people’s sexual orientation,” Bush refuses to honor Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, breaking the custom established in 1999 by Bill Clinton.

July 10, 2001: The Washington Post reports on a backroom deal between the White House and the Salvation Army to make it easier for government-funded religious groups to practice hiring discrimination against gay people.

Jan. 25, 2002: The New York Times reports that Bush adviser Karl Rove allegedly orchestrated an unethical deal with Enron for the company to retain Ralph Reed as a consultant so the former Christian Coalition director could help the campaign without appearing on the candidate’s payroll.

Jan. 23, 2003: HIV-positive Christian activist Jerry Thacker withdraws his name as an appointee for the Presidential Council on HIV/AIDS after coming under attack because he considers homosexuality a “deathstyle.”

July 21, 2003: The National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association condemns a report that a White House political operative attempted to discredit ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman because he’s gay…and Canadian.

Nov. 18, 2003: The Senate confirms Lt. Gen. Robert T. Clark, promoted by Bush despite his widely criticized handling of a 1999 anti-gay murder in Fort Campbell, Ky.

Jan. 20, 2004: In his State of the Union address, Bush essentially orders queers to a life of celibacy: Moments after discouraging sex before marriage (“Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases”), he calls for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (“Activist judges…insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people”).

Feb. 13, 2004: The Human Rights Campaign voices strong concerns when the U.S. Office of Special Counsel removes references to sexual orientation from its materials involving employment discrimination against federal workers.

May 20, 2004: The Food and Drug Administration announces regulations to block men from making nondirect sperm donations if they have had sex with other men in the past five years. Lambda Legal says the rules “look like they were written in 1982, not 2004.”

Sept. 22, 2004: In response to a GOP campaign letter depicting one man proposing to another and asking recipients to “vote Republican to protect our families,” Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe predicts, “On Nov. 2, Americans will show Bush that we will not be hoodwinked by his hateful politics.” Yeah, we all know how that turned out.

Jan. 28, 2005: Bush feigns ignorance when asked about Florida’s gay adoption ban: “The ideal in society is to raise children with a man and a woman…. I don’t know about this particular case.” Meanwhile, he calls for the swift confirmation of federal judicial nominee William Pryor, who days earlier had cast the deciding vote to uphold the discriminatory statute.

Dec. 20, 2005: NBC News reports that the Pentagon has spied on domestic groups protesting “don’t ask, don’t tell.” New York University’s OUTlaw was labeled “potentially violent,” and a kiss-in at UC Santa Cruz was deemed a “credible threat” of terrorism.

May 24, 2007: After former Surgeon General Richard Carmona tells Congress that the White House repeatedly tried to suppress reports on sex education and other important health issues, Bush taps his replacement: James Wilson Holsinger Jr. – who, in his work with the United Methodist Church, voted to expel a lesbian pastor and who characterized gay sex in a 1991 report as unnatural and unhealthy. The nomination goes nowhere.

Aug. 7, 2007: A White House spokesman says Bush will veto any bill to which the Matthew Shepard Act is attached: “The qualifications are so broad that virtually any crime involving a homosexual individual has potential to have hate crimes elements.”

Dec. 18, 2008: The United Nations makes history as 60 countries sign onto a General Assembly declaration in support of the global decriminalization of homosexuality. The U.S. government is one of the only Western democratic nations that refuses to endorse it.

Originally published in Just Out, Jan. 9, 2009