Statement by People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas:
Some right-wing leaders have wasted no time turning the Foley-Hastert scandal into an attack on gay Americans and advocates for equality.
For example, the vehemently anti-gay Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, has said of the scandal, “when you hold up tolerance and diversity, this is what you end up getting.” Perkins says neither party “seems likely to address the real issue, which is the link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse … ignoring this reality got the Catholic Church into trouble over abusive priests, and now it is doing the same to the House GOP leadership.” Meanwhile, Linda Harvey in World Net Daily calls Foley’s actions “typical behavior for homosexuals.”
It is disappointing but hardly surprising that anti-gay zealots are trying to protect Republicans’ political power and deflect attention from these failures of personal and institutional responsibility. It is reprehensible that they are fanning the flames of anti-gay bigotry with despicable and dishonest charges that have long since been discredited.
What about personal responsibility and accountability? This is about Mark Foley engaging in extremely inappropriate behavior with minors, and about the failure of House Republican leaders to take action even though his behavior was reportedly common enough knowledge that pages were warned to watch out for Foley. It’s about Foley’s hypocrisy in making a name for himself pushing legislation against the very activities he was engaged in. And it’s about the hypocrisy of party leaders who proclaim themselves the guardians of values but who failed a basic test when doing the right thing might have cost them a bit of political power.