The Agenda

Wolfe: Stop the witch hunt in Washington

Right-wing, anti-gay lawmakers and talking heads are on a witch hunt.  They’re trying to destroy the reputations and careers of openly gay and lesbian presidential appointees, and you don’t need a PhD in rocket science to figure out why.

For weeks now extreme social conservative activists—and FOX News, naturally—have pushed lies about Kevin Jennings, a Department of Education appointee.  Now they’re going after Chai Feldblum, a respected Georgetown Law professor and advocate who is also the first openly gay or lesbian person ever appointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In both cases, anti-gay zealots have expressed shock—SHOCK!—at these appointees’ past advocacy for LGBT equality, which is kind of like saying the EPA shouldn’t hire people who’ve worked for clean drinking water.

So why are the extreme right talking heads so interested in bringing these two down?  Simple.  If openly gay people are seen to be so mainstream, valuable and smart that they can be picked by the president to help him lead the country, then it will become that much harder for the extreme right to paint the larger LGBT community as sex-crazed hedonists hell-bent on destroying the American family.  They need us to seem sinister and outrageous so their followers will continue to believe the lies, tune in and send them money.

Unfortunately, even some mainstream media outlets can’t resist the scent of scandal, including manufactured ones like these that are easy to debunk.  When gays and lesbians are in the mix, the stories take on an even more salacious tone.  But responsible editors, journalists and producers should do their homework before they report on false accusations peddled by agenda-driven bigots.

This country has been through witch hunts in government before, and they drove competent, experienced men and women to think twice about careers in public service.  LGBT Americans are as committed as any to building a more perfect union and serving in government.  They should not be made reluctant to do so because of lies and anti-gay hysteria on the fringes of the right.

Chuck Wolfe is president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute.  The Leadership Institute coordinates the LGBT community’s Presidential Appointments Project, which seeks to promote the service of openly LGBT Americans in the Executive Branch.

For more information, visit MediaMatters.

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