Disclosure: I wrote this article three weeks ago, but tabled it because I was insanely busy with work and I did not have time to proofread it. In the interim, I worked my first fundraising event for State Senate candidate Patrick Forrest. My colleague Stephen Spiker also beat me to the punch in expressing his sentiments on the situation. Nevertheless, I have more to add to the discourse. This article exists independent of my working relationship with Mr. Forrest and reflects my deeply held belief that all law-abiding individuals have inherent dignity as human beings, deserve protection of their life, liberty, and property, and should be able to pursue the American Dream free from discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, background, ethnicity, origin, class, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, etc.
Johnson, Chris (2011, October 14). “Gay Republican accuses Dem of gay-baiting in VA”. Washington Blade. Retrieved from
Democratic State Senator Janet Howell has been an advocate for LGBT issues during her time in the Senate of Virginia. How do her supporters react when they face a formidable challenge from Patrick Forrest, an openly-gay Republican?
They engage in gay-baiting in hypocritical fashion. The Washington Blade, the region’s largest newspaper focused on LGBT issues, has obtained a recording from the Forrest campaign of a Democratic precinct captain in Reston alleging that Republicans are racist and homophobic and that Republican voters would want to know that Forrest is gay. The report indicates that Democratic volunteers have been reaching out to conservative Republicans in the 32nd Senate District to tell them that Forrest is gay in an effort to depress voter turnout among Forrest’s supporters. The Howell campaign has denied any ties to such volunteers and has denied that they have engaged in such tactics. Such activities still reflect badly on the Democratic Party, a party that has been at the forefront of LGBT issues for decades.
If the GOP has a sizable anti-gay base as some Democratic activists allege, why would they nominate an openly-gay Republican who supports gay rights? Democrats in Northern Virginia are apparently confused by this one question and are trying to score political points at the expense of their principles. This is deplorable.
First, homophobia is wrong and has no place in polite discourse. The Republican Party has a minority of supporters who, unfortunately, exercise discrimination against gays and will never vote for a gay conservative candidate. This is wrong. I also reiterate that while the Democratic Party has been a leader in extending equal rights and equal opportunity to gays that for Democrats to engage in gay-baiting to win a political election as reported by the Washington Blade right here does just as much harm to the cause of freedom and tolerance.
Additionally, the Republican Party as a whole, is not as “racist” and “homophobic” as some Democrats allege. The GOP’s frontrunner for the Presidential nomination according to some polls is Herman Cain, an African-American whose campaign is based on business experience and innovative ideas to get the economy moving. Congressman Allen West, an African-American, is a leading voice in the Tea Party movement. The 2011 slate of Fairfax County School Board candidates endorsed by the Fairfax GOP is an all-female slate of candidates that includes women of Hispanic and Asian descent. In the 2010 8th Congressional District GOP primary election, I, and many others, supported Matthew Berry, a pro-life, pro-business, openly-gay Republican. In 2009, I did some work on the side for Eric Brescia, a candidate for Delegate in the 47th District who is straight, fiscally conservative, pro-life, and pro-gay marriage. Forrest’s campaign has built a grassroots network with a large number of high school, college, and young professional conservative activists energized by his vision. I personally know many liberty-minded Republicans who quietly or vocally believe that it is imperative for the GOP to reach out to the gay community because it is the right thing to do.
The gay community has the same needs as any other community and, at the same time, are not a monolithic group. It is a free country. People can judge each individual issue on its own merits and hold a variety of issue positions independent of each other. There is no rule stating that if a person is gay, that person must also be pro-choice, economically progressive, and Democratic. (and vice-versa)
If you are a Republican and refuse to support Patrick Forrest based on his sexuality alone, you are wrong. The fact that you are also undermining your own political cause in the long run is far secondary to the fact that you are just wrong.
If you are a Democrat and support gay rights, Patrick Forrest’s sexuality should be a non-factor and his participation in the political process should be celebrated even though you disagree with most of his positions on the issues. Saying you support gay rights as a Democrat and then using a political opponent’s sexuality against him to drive up homophobia among his supporters is hypocritical fear-mongering that undermines the progress of the LGBT community.
I have worked on both sides of the aisle and I know that sadly, varying degrees of racism and homophobia still exist among certain groups on both sides. Racism and homophobia are wrong and has no place in our society. It is long overdue, but racism and homophobia must be stamped out for good all across the political spectrum.
When a gay individual can run for office in any political party and be judged on his or her issues and character alone, that is progress for the gay community. Right now, some Democratic activists are standing in the way of that progress in the name of political expediency because they are afraid to lose control of the Senate of Virginia. That is unacceptable.
Our schools and workplaces have worked hard to foster a safe environment free of bullying, harassment, and intimidation against anyone. It is time that our political arena follows suit.