AFSCME (a union) homophobic radio ad against Mitch McConnell. put out a To the right is a poster that Page One Kentucky is reporting went up all over the state, using much of the same language as the AFSCME ad, even though it's unattributed.
This is homophobic and wrong. Whoever's doing the poster ought to stop and there's no justification for this. Being gay shouldn't disqualify someone from public office. It doesn't make someone a joke. And that's the message that both the radio ad and the poster are sending.
Michelangelo Signorile defends the ad:
Yes, the people pushing it are no doubt trying to appeal to homophobia in many voters. But they are also appealing to my -- and presumably many Kentucky voters' -- desire not to have a hypocrite and liar in office. And that's not a bad thing. Sorry, but I have little sympathy for the antigay McConnell, and certainly people should know if indeed he is some tormented closet case.
Since McConnnell is a senator who has voted antigay over and over again, it's certainly relevant to ask the question if things just don't add up, and there's nothing wrong with implying someone is gay or asking the question, is there? And if McConnell is not, and there is some other truth to his discharge, why not just state it?
I really don't know where Signorile is getting the idea that these ads are "appealing to my desire not to have a hypocrite and liar in office." There's absolutely nothing in either ad to support that claim.
But we've seen a certain type of gay liberal use the "hypocrisy" argument to push a meme that's basically homophobia in a prom dress. If the point here was really the hypocrisy, then why not simply write that word in the ads and make them focus on hypocrisy and "dishonesty"?
Well, that wouldn't get votes, because one thing we've learned after years of Republican rule is that Americans don't really care about hypocrisy. They care about the image one presents, and sometimes (like now) get serious enough to be concerned with competence.
The fact that there (queer and straight) liberals who would justify the use ridiculing a Republican for being gay instead of merely pointing out hypocrisy betrays the fact that there are isolated times and instances in which Democrats are willing to use homophobia to get votes.
Why not just say that McConnell's voting record is bad because he's voted against LGBTQ rights issues, no matter if he's gay, straight, bi, or queer? If we can't answer that question without "But it wouldn't get as many votes!" then we need to reexamine the role homophobia is playing here.
These attacks don't just hurt McConnell's credibility, they work to foster an environment in which homophobia's OK. These ads are directed against queer people everywhere, including the queer teens who go to churches in Kentucky who'll see the ads and think less of themselves, the future gay-bashers who'll feel just that much more justified in their violence later on because of the constant stirring up of homophobia for political gain, and the employers who laugh when they see that poster and learn to associate silliness and incompetence with queers.
The target here isn't Mitch McConnell or hypocrisy. It's all of us.
Update: Gregory King at AFSCME sent this statement.
AFSCME has nothing to do with the badly photoshopped flyer posted on the Internet. Moreover, our radio advertisement in Kentucky says absolutely nothing about Senator McConnell's sexual orientation. We are as interested in Senator McConnell's undisclosed service records just as we were eight years ago in those of George W. Bush. To suggest that AFSCME is somehow gay-baiting because we have urged Senator McConnell to be straight with the voters of Kentucky is an outrageous and false charge. That is as ridiculous as suggesting that Senator John McCain named his bus the Straight Talk Express in order to appeal to anti-gay voters.
AFSCME is being unfairly smeared with an unfounded charge of gay-baiting. We have done no such thing.
It's great to hear that they weren't behind that ridiculous poster. Although I can see why so many people thought they were, considering the similarities between the language in it and the radio ad.
Here's the relevant part of the radio ad:
Now, people in Kentucky are asking why Mitch McConnell won't release his entire military records. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that McConnell was discharged after serving less than six months. But McConnell won't discuss the full details.
What is he hiding?
After 24 years in Washington, Mitch McConnell is responsible for the mess there.
Isn't it time for Mitch McConnell to be straight with us?
What do they think he's hiding in his military records? Everyone thought GWB was hiding his records because he deserted. It wasn't idle speculation. In McConnell's case, the going rumor is that he was discharged because he was caught with a dude.
And that use of the word "straight" in this context is a bit... coincidental. But I guess they have their plausible deniability there.