Here at Box Turtle Bulletin we don’t throw around the term “homophobe”. People may have positions that differ with mine without holding personal animus and labeling them with a pejorative term pretty much precludes any future efforts to reach them with reason.
For example, many libertarian minded people may oppose non-discrimination policies not out of any personal desire to discriminate, but out of the desire to be free to do so without their government coming in and telling them that some hiring decisions are unacceptable. They might laugh at those who eliminate a qualified candidate due to race or orientation and figure that such decisions will hurt their business.
Others may seriously believe that marriage equality is a detriment to society, or are – at least presently – not yet ready to go as far as marriage. Yes, sometimes those objections are based in undue deference to tradition or to fear or even to prejudice, but that does not make them homophobes. For example, New Jersey Governor Christie opposes marriage equality, but still publicly advocates for civil unions and has no hesitation about socializing with gay people or appointing them to the supreme court. And I doubt anyone would describe President Obama as a homophobe.
But homophobes do exist. (And for the fools who say “homophobe means afraid of homosexuals and I’m not afraid of no pansies”, no, that isn’t what ‘homophobe’ means, you homophobe). And sometimes a situation arises that allows you to identify those who base their policies on principle and those who act out of animus.
Such a situation has arisen.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has selected Richard Grenell as his foreign policy spokesman. Grenell is gay and, as seems to be the case with virtually every gay person from the most liberal to what some call “sell-out quislings” (i.e. all gay people registered Republican), Grenell believes that gay citizens are entitled to the same rights and recognitions to marriage as heterosexual citizens.
To most Americans – hell, to most Republicans – this is not exactly worth noting. Republicans claim to support meritocracy and hire those who are best qualified without regard to race, religion, and sexual orientation – and most probably do (or, at least, have convinced themselves that they do). So for Romney to select Grenell, who served as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations under George W. Bush, is hardly an eyebrow raiser.
(And to be honest – okay, to be cynical – Romney’s opposition to marriage equality is probably as firmly committed as his opposition to mandated health care or any other position he happens to be espousing today. He seems to share with our current president – and most of our past ones – a strong devotion to whichever way the wind is blowing.)
But for some, hiring a gay man is unacceptable. Those folks are called homophobes.
Now 20 years ago homophobes would have railed about the homoSEEEXshulls infiltrating positions of power and proudly announced that they would have nothing to do with no perverts. Today that doesn’t sell well. So instead they come up with criteria that precludes hiring gay people and rant about that instead. It’s not their orientation that we object to, it’s their liberal anti-american position on fill in the blank.
For example, Matthew J. Franck – Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute – ranted in National Review.
Grenell has made a particular crusade of the marriage issue, with a kind of unhinged devotion that suggests a man with questionable judgment. And when the Obama State Department is already moving to elevate the gay-rights agenda to a higher plane than religious freedom in the foreign policy of the United States, it is reasonable to wonder whether Grenell, after taking such a prominent place in the Romney campaign’s foreign-policy shop, would be in line for an influential State posting where he could pursue his passion for that same agenda.
You see, it’s not him being gay or even supporting equality, it’s his unhinged devotion.
(To his credit, National Review columnist Kevin D. Williamson snarked all over Franck’s head: “…surely to preemptively attack an aide to Mitt Romney because he disagrees with you on a single issue — an issue that is not a very large part of the foreign-policy portfolio, one that ought to be about No. 13,479 on our national to-worry-about list — might to the uncharitable eye appear to be something like “unhinged devotion,” and in any case those of us who work at think tanks or journals of opinion might want to be a bit circumspect when arguing that a man should be distrusted because his devotion to a cause is too zealous.”)
Such a nice easy example: Matthew J. Franck is a homophobe.
He’s not alone, of course. Plenty of others, like American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer (who I really do believe is mentally ill) joined the fray. And, of course, there are haters of the other brand (Republiphobes?) who hate (yes, that is the accurate term) Grenell for his party affiliation (I suppose they absurdly believe that we are better served by having no gay people advise or have positions of power in Republican administrations – but we’ll save that for another time.)
For today, we’ll just note that Franck stands out as an excellent illustration on how to recognize a homophobe.