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LaBarbera Award: Two Tennessee Tea Party Candidates

Jim Burroway

May 1st, 2010

Today’s LaBarbera Award is a two-fer, and goes to two Republican candidates for Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District. Ron Kirkland of Jackson and Randy Smith of Mercer were among the candidates speaking at a Tea Party forum in Paris, Tennessee, on Thursday evening. That forum included discussions about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the military’s ban on LGBT people serving openly. All five Tea Party candidates opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but Mercer and Smith excused violence toward gay people as a method for keeping them out of the military:

Ron Kirkland (left) and Randy Smith (right).

Kirkland, a Vietnam veteran, said of his time in the military: “I can tell you if there were any homosexuals in that group, they were taken care of in ways I can’t describe to you.”

Smith, who served in the first Iraqi war, added: “I definitely wouldn’t want to share a shower with a homosexual. We took care of that kind of stuff, just like (Kirkland) said.”

The Tennessee Republican Party had no comment about the candidates statements when contacted by The Associated Press on Friday.

The Tennessee Equality Project has demanded an apology from Kirkland and Smith. A spokesperson for the Kirkland campaign said that the candidate has no plans to do so. Smith, who has a 19-year-old lesbian daughter,  said on Friday that he apologizes to those who were offended, but he maintained that he was “telling it how it is actually.”

When asked later whether either candidate had personal knowledge of violence against gay people, Smiths said that he only knew of it “in concept” but never learned of a specific incident. Kirkland dismissed the question, saying “it was a joke.

Jonathan Cole, of the Tennessee Equality Project responded, “Without a sincere apology, I don’t consider it to be a joke. I would question his fitness to serve in elected office if he can’t show common respect for those who’ve put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we enjoy in this country.”



May 1st, 2010 | LINK

Could you give me some clarification? Is the Tea Party putting forth candidates of their own in Tennessee or are they just acting as a group that is being addressed by those already running for office? I find the statements by both Republicans terrible. The fact that Smith has a 19 year old lesbian daughter makes his statement even more remarkable. What kind of world does he want her to live in?

May 1st, 2010 | LINK

They will fit nicely with already seated, his re-election mostly assured, Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-CA):

If DADT isn’t passed prior to mid term elections, it will be a struggle for passage as more Republicans are elected.

May 1st, 2010 | LINK

Well I see we’ve answered this question^. Not that it wasn’t obvious before, is anyone surprised a republican funded group led by republicans and containing 100% republicans shares the republican hatred for gay people?

May 1st, 2010 | LINK

I clicked on penguinsaur’s link. I feel opposite as to your determination as to “the question”. There is a segment of the population that is angry at both major parties for letting government spending and take over of too much of our economy. To myself that is what the Tea Party Movement is all about. I will be dead in 25 years. My nieces and nephews are going to be stuck with the paying the enormous bill ………… if it can ever be paid.

What does Timothy now think about the Tea Party Movement?

Lindoro Almaviva
May 1st, 2010 | LINK

and the father of a lesbian no less. i wonder is he made daddy’s little girl proud today.

paul j stein
May 1st, 2010 | LINK

Same shit different day… the REAL Republicans are back. Now go plan the weddings, decorate the homes to make the appearance of taste, cook fabulous food, serve them great vintages of select wines they have not heard of but can surely pay for, make their first wife look presentable enough, and the second wife they are still shopping for young and nubile to make the divorce worth the money, teach/babysit their spawn till they go out on their own(they are the chosen after all) The GAYS are here to serve the wealthy and upscale with CASH. Till that stops we will be second class to them forever.

May 1st, 2010 | LINK

Wonder what unit Kirkland was in?

I work in a convenience store, and one of the regular customers is a Viet Nam vet. I asked him what he thought of gays in the military. He answered the way so many soldiers seem to: he shrugged and said, “As long as he could do his job, I didn’t care.” He went on to say that he certainly would never have given a fellow gay soldier a hard time, because “there might come a time when my life depended on him.”

He then laughed and said: “heck, if he liked looking at my ass enough that it gave him extra incentive to keep me alive, let him look!”

You have to wonder if it was really so different from unit to unit.

May 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Smith is aware of the concept of “taking care of that kind of stuff”, never saw it happen for himself or heard about it happening from anyone else, but still is willing to mention this pleasant concept to get brownie points with the constituencies who relish the idea of some faggot getting bullied and bashed in the communal showers. Classy.

I’m all in favor. Anything to get a vote!

Timothy Kincaid
May 2nd, 2010 | LINK

What does Timothy now think about the Tea Party Movement?

good question. I think there is more info and that the picture is gelling.

I still think that it is a good thing that the focus of the Tea Party in gerenal is more towards economic conservatism than towards social conservatism. But it’s becoming clearer that – as with the Republican Party as a whole – the leadership of the Tea Party movement appear to be adopting and promoting the more conservative positions on social issues.

It seems to me – at present – that they’ve said, “we care about fiscal issues, but if we are raging loons on gay issues then we’ll pull in the social conservatives.”

Or so it appears to me.

Very disappointing.

Maurice Lacunza
May 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Criminal Behavior Should Be Investigated.

Those comments from the two veteran soldiers sound criminal in nature.

Wouldn’t that behoove an investigation if the word homosexual were replaced with the word female?

I think that these two have inadvertently admitted to criminal acts and it would seem appropriate if the military investigated them.

Have Decency
May 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Well-deserved LaBarbera Awards there. Those guys’ comments are repellent.

Could Peter LaBarbera himself get the next LaBarbera Award? He earned one for his off the charts crazy/nasty/Randall Terry-esque public prayer at a May Day event yesterday in Washington, DC. Right Wing Watch has the video. He prayed for an army of young people who don’t tolerate homosexuality.

Jose Soto
May 3rd, 2010 | LINK

What a shame, yet this stuff is tolerated in the GOP, I don’t think it is a Tea Party thing (being involved in both) With confidence I can surely say that the Tea Party is a whole different monster, one that the GOP wishes to emulate (but will never become). The GOP leadership DOES NOT WANT (this directive has come from RNC headquarters) any gays running for office or doing anything big in the GOP, that is why we always here that gay GOPers are in this never ending quest to change the party within, but never explained how or if any progress has been made to get the party to relax on gay issues. Trust me as a former Republican activist this is the same BS all over the GOP. Truly what a shame.

May 3rd, 2010 | LINK

what I don’t understand about Tea Partiers is why they don’t just join the Libertarians, who already support the small government, capitals economic policies the Tea Partiers claim to support. Oh yeah, this crap like this why. Libertarians aren’t racist or anti-homosexual. So basically, the Tea Party is revealed as nothing more than people trying to be more Republican than the Republicans.

May 3rd, 2010 | LINK

The whole Teabagger/teaparty concept remains a Republican funded & supported construct, which includes a major focus on social conservatism.

Reality check: this whole so-called movement is the result of endless hours of promotion on the Fox network. There is no legitimate organization, and the membership is nearly exclusively older white males, mostly in the southeast.

This is the ‘moral majority’ renamed and rebranded.

What evidence speaks otherwise?

May 3rd, 2010 | LINK

“Wouldn’t that behoove an investigation if the word homosexual were replaced with the word female?”

Oh, please. 4 in 10 female veterans report being sexually assaulted in the military and only 8% of those are ever even tried in court martial.

Yes, abuse perpetrated on gay men (and LBT people) in the military is repugnant, but painting a picture as though women have all of these protections and perks because they’re women is ignorant and insulting.

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