|E.W. Jackson, May 2013|
All the candidates are traversing the state this weekend in the final stretch of the campaign season. Within 48 hours of the time I write this (barring a virtual tie in any of the top three contests), winners will be known and soaked with Gatorade or champagne and second- and third-place candidates will be licking their wounds and planning their comebacks.
Upon reflection, I realized that my summary of my op-ed piece on E.W. Jackson did not do it justice. Since it has been more than three months since the Free Lance-Star printed it, I feel it is within my authorial rights to republish it here, while its message is still relevant.
This is the text as I submitted it to the Free Lance-Star, which put it on its opinion page on Sunday, July 21, 2013.
- - - - -
E.W. Jackson's unjustifiable characterization of gays as 'totalitarian'
In remarks widely circulated only after he received the Republican Party of Virginia's nomination to be lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson said that gay men and lesbians have “an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit that has decided they know what’s best for everyone.”
Jackson repeated the characterization, adding: “I used two words to describe what they’re trying to do: authoritarian and totalitarian, and I believe that. I believe that they are of a mindset that says we want to destroy, in any way we need to, anyone who dares oppose this agenda.”
Although there are radicals within any political movement, whether right or left, the totalitarian impulse is rare and exists only on the fringes.
Jackson's words are at odds with the attitudes and activities of the large number of gay and lesbian Americans whose core beliefs are keenly attuned to the values of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that Jackson claims animate his own political agenda.
Take, for example, the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR).
Reason magazine correspondent Michael Lynch began one report by saying, “Two and a half years in Washington and I've finally found the free marketeers in the Republican Party – they're gay.”
Lynch had attended an Arlington LCR meeting that featured a talk by British political scientist Nigel Ashford, who made a case against employment non-discrimination laws, and he noted that the vast majority of those present “appeared to agree with Ashford.”
He added that the president of the group said that LCR's mission is “to work with Republican candidates on shared issues, such as lower taxes, while letting them know you're gay and that there are good gays dedicated to the party.”
That hardly resembles an “authoritarian” or “totalitarian” agenda. Maybe that's why former Prince William County Republican chairman Bill Kling once said that Northern Virginia Log Cabin meetings are “fast becoming a 'must' campaign stop for many GOP candidates.”
Or look at the Pink Pistols, a pro-gay, pro-gun organization, with its 60 chapters across the country and abroad.
Pink Pistols filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the landmark 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Court eventually decided that firearms ownership is an individual right protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The Pink Pistols argued that "not only do members of the LGBT community have a heightened need to possess firearms for self-protection in their homes, the Second Amendment clearly guarantees this most basic right. This Court should not permit the democratic majority to deprive LGBT individuals of their essential and constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-defense in their own homes.”
Defending the Second Amendment rights of individuals is neither “authoritarian” nor “totalitarian.”
Third, Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL), which I cofounded in 1991 with a group of like-minded libertarians, classical liberals, and conservatives, has a mission to advance the ideas of economic and personal freedom and individual responsibility.
Considering that, earlier this summer, the Boy Scouts of America ended its policy of excluding gay teens from membership, it is noteworthy that in 2000, GLIL took the BSA's side before the U.S. Supreme Court. In a friend-of-court brief, GLIL asserted that, as wrong-headed as the BSA's policy was, it had a right to maintain it as part of the Constitution's guarantees of free speech and freedom of association.
As conservative columnist George Will summarized our argument, “GLIL vigorously deplores the Scouts' creed, which is that homosexuality is incompatible with the Scout obligation to be 'morally straight' and 'clean.' But GLIL agrees that the Scouts are a creedal organization with an explicitly moral mission. And citing much history – for example, until the late 1970s the IRS denied tax-exempt status to organizations that 'promoted' homosexuality – the GLIL brief argues that gays have suffered 'when freedom of association has not been respected and governments have been allowed to trample on the rights of citizens to freely gather together.'”
Standing up for the freedom of association for those with whom one disagrees, while reserving the right to persuade them to change their position, does not demonstrate a totalitarian impulse.
Whether E.W. Jackson was the best choice as the GOP's lieutenant governor nominee is a broader topic best left to other days and other commentators.
One thing is clear, however: his blanket condemnation of gay citizens as “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” lacks factual foundation. He should acknowledge that there are many gay men and lesbians who share his fundamental desire for strong families, free markets, and smaller, less intrusive government.
* * *
Richard Sincere was a Charlottesville delegate to the Republican Party of Virginia's state convention on May 18. He blogs about politics and culture at http://www.RickSincere.com.