10/05/2006 09:43 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Gay GOP Purge on Capitol Hill?

Just when I thought there was nothing left to say about the Foley scandal, I started hearing about yet another desparate tactic being undertaken by the republican House Leadership to get themselves off the hook. I wrote about it today in my MSNBC Hardblogger column.

Interesting rumblings going on in Washington right now. The right wing and its allies in
Congress have never liked the wing of the Republican party that tolerated the gays.
Now, that relationship is inconvenient for Denny Hastert, John Boehner and Tom Reynolds,
all of whom are close to gay republican staffers. So they have adopted a new strategy.
They support a whispering campaign to say that it is the staffer's fault that Foley was
protected. That whispering campaign is the aggressive understory in this Foley scandal
this week and the leadership is hoping that it saves their own hides. It won't work.

Mark Foley is a sick and troubled man whose life in the closet was only made more painful
by his overwhelming need to be accepted by the Republican leadership. We were friends. I spent many hours (to no avail) with Foley over the years trying to encourage him to embrace his sexual orientation so he could stop worrying about being outed. I finally gave up after his behavior during his aborted Senate run. When a newspaper printed a story that he was gay, he acted as though he had been called a pedophile. Upon reflection, perhaps he knew where an examination of his life would lead and needed to stop it any way he could. At the time, i just assumed he was ashamed of being gay.

The Republican leadership did not protect him these last few months out of political correctness. They protected him because he was a lapdog for their agenda. Not only did he raise lots of money for them from his Palm Beach contacts, but to have the gay guy support their legislative agenda gave them
some sense of comfort that they weren't really discriminators or bigots.

Foley and his gay republican friends thought that they were accepted by their GOP friends. It is sadly ironic and unfortunate that legislative discrimination has not had the same painful impact on
them that this week's whispering campaign has had. I have been frustrated over the years about the attitude that many gay republican staffers have had about working for members who vote against the LGBT community's interest, but I truly believe that it is their personal problem. They pay (or not as the case may be) their own internal price of anguish, ambivalence and shame. I have always , however, blamed Members of Congress, not their staffs, for how they voted.

It is time for the Republican leadership to acknowledge what the rest of the country
already knows: they screwed up and in a surge of power abuse protected disgusting and immoral
behavior. They, not the staffers around the edges, are accountable to the people and must take responsibility for their actions.