O'Donnell and Gays: What Kind of Hypocrite Is She?

09/21/2010 06:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011


The Daily Beast has written a story about the former outreach coordinator for Christine O'Donnell's abstinence organization, a gay man named Wade Richards. He recounts his journey from ex-gay to ex-ex-gay, (i.e. back to gay, period) and says when he finally came out to Christine O'Donnell she turned her back on him. He further notes the irony of her behavior because O'Donnell has an openly lesbian sister. This was something I already knew. It was a shock to see Jenny, this supposedly feminist former friend of mine clapping for her sister on stage on election night, cheering for a woman so radically "pro-life" she believes 14-year old girls raped by their uncles should be forced to carry the child to term.

It seems that even in 2010, gays seem to make all sorts of allowances for homophobic family members, even when they would never tolerate the same kind of prejudice were it directed at others on the basis of ethnicity or race. Were O'Donnell an anti-semite instead of a homophobe, I imagine her sister would be less understanding, but O'Donnell gets to be a hypocrite on this issue and no one seems to be suffering much cognitive dissonance over the contradiction. (O'Donnell probably doesn't understand the concept of "cognitive dissonance." Maybe one of the human/mouse hybrids she believes in can explain it to her.)

At first I wanted someone in the Delaware press to ask Christine how she would feel about her lesbian sister's rights to get legal recognition of her partnership, to adopt children, or to serve in the military. And I still do. But I also realized these were legitimate questions to ask each and every right-wing congressional candidate, most of whom probably do have at least one gay relative, even if they don't know it. Voters have a right to know exactly what kind of hypocrites the candidates are or would be, even if only theoretically.

There's the Dick Cheney kind of hypocrite. He's conservative on every issue known to man except gay rights, for the well-known reason that his daughter Mary is a lesbian. We all know that if she wasn't, there would no such open-mindedness from the former vice president. And such a specific open-mindedness it is, starting and ending with his daughter. (Or is there some tape of Dick Cheney giving speeches on human rights I never heard about? He was probably too busy signing torture memos to get around to it.)

The other kind of hypocrite is the "family values" conservative who doesn't much value family at all, at least when that family member is gay. I suppose he or she gets points for applying rigid Old Testament principles consistently, regardless of whether it means casting out one's own flesh and blood or merely denying him or her the right to visit a sick partner in the hospital. How about your position on Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill, potential congressperson? Think it's too extreme? Wouldn't they just be carrying out the punishment proscribed in Leviticus? Or don't you believe the Bible is the literal word of God, as you have continually indicated?

It's seems Miss O'Donnell is a hybrid of these two types. She appreciates the love and support of her sister, and yet we saw her engage in the most egregious "get-your-man-pants-on" gay-baiting of Mike Castle. I imagine she falls into the "love the sinner/hate the sin" school of rationalization. I'd love to hear that out of her mouth though, preferably with Jenny at her side.

Right-wingers want it both ways on a whole bunch of issues. They denounce the deficit, while screaming for tax cuts that will make it far worse. They claim Obama is a failure because he's not creating jobs, then try to kill unemployment insurance because there's supposedly plenty of work. And they want to claim they love their gay relatives, yet support every kind of legislation that would deny them equal rights.

It's a bankrupt claim, devoid of meaning. It would be no different than me insisting I love my black friends in every way equally to my white friends except for their skin pigment. If that's the conditional "love" Christine O'Donnell is made of, the voters of Delaware deserve to know it.