Last edited: February 06, 2005

GOP Right to Kolbe: "Hands Up"

PlanetOut, August 1, 2000

SUMMARY: Religious conservatives don’t want to see a gay congressman speaking before the Republican convention - they’d rather see him busted for sodomy when he gets home.

The selection of gay Republican Arizona Congressmember Jim Kolbe for a prime time speech at his party’s national convention August 1 was hailed by gays and lesbians, but some voices on the religious right have called for him to be arrested for sodomy instead.

First the cry came from Phil Burress, chair of Cincinnati’s "Equal Rights Not Special Rights," who successfully defended the city’s Issue 3 — a "son of Colorado’s Amendment 2" proactive prohibition against the city’s recognizing gays and lesbians as a minority — twice before a federal appeals court, both before and after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down Amendment 2 itself (the high court declined a further appeal). It’s the only law of its type still on the books anywhere in the U.S. Burress’ letter as further distributed July 28 by Donald Wildmon’s Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA), said, "Mr. Kolbe as a self described homosexual means nothing except to say he engages in sodomy. Did you know that in Arizona, sodomy is against the law? Mr. Kolbe should be arrested when he returns to his home state for violating state law. Would you agree that all lawmakers should insist that all laws be enforced?" That sounded like a fine ide! a ! to the AFA, which encouraged its members to write to Republican Party Chair Jim Nicholson.

The president of the Texas chapter of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, Cathie Adams, described the Kolbe speech on foreign trade as "a quota. ... This is being done to pander to the homosexual agenda," and e-mailed her constituency that, "My heart is crying. ... It’s hypocritical to have that plank then invite an open homosexual to address our convention just because he’s homosexual," according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, which wasn’t clear exactly which of the anti-gay planks in the Republican platform Adams was citing.

Bush campaign spokespeople insisted Kolbe’s orientation is irrelevant, and Texas party spokesperson Robert Black told the Star Telegram that, "It appears that Congressman Kolbe has decided that the broad issues that all Republicans agree upon is more important than his homosexual rights agenda, and that’s why he has decided to speak at the convention."

The American Civil Liberties Union took the occasion to underscore the danger of sodomy laws, which its own Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and other groups have been working to nullify in the courts. The Project’s associate director Michael Adams said, "Time and time again when we file lawsuits challenging sodomy laws, conservative groups argue that these laws are not enforced and do not present any real danger — but that they should remain on the books to send a moral message. By issuing this callous alert, the right wing has demonstrated the very real danger of sodomy laws — that they can be used to try to intimidate and silence lesbian and gay Americans. If a Republican member of Congress is not safe from such attacks, who is?"

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