Today’s letter – Jack Kemp lived and died by the same sword

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I was saddened to hear of Jack Kemp’s death over the weekend. This nine-term Congressman from New York said the usual vile things about gay people that Republicans have been known for, but what differentiated Mr. Kemp was how rumors of his sexual preferences (or dalliances as it would seem) were used by his political allies to suppress him.

As background, Mr. Kemp had some logical quirks that made him endearing. He advocated mandatory testing for Americans infected with HIV (which obviously wouldn’t be known without an HIV test, you see.) He also famously stated “I believe in civil liberties for homosexuals, … I guess I’d have to say I’d draw the line at letting them teach in the schools.”

But perhaps the greatest Catch 22 arose when he tried to run for the 1988 Republican Presidential nomination and again in 1996 when he was Bob Dole’s running mate. Every time he tried to gain a foothold in the Republican party, rumors swirled that he was gay. From an indirect and unfair link to a “homosexual ring” within the Reagan circle, to ownership of a gay ski lodge that was completely unknown to Kemp, no weapon was spared to incriminate Mr. Kemp. The rumors worked all the way up to NBC’s “Today” show which spent much time dwelling on the ‘suspicions’ and never properly vindicated him.

Governor, as you face a political future beyond the Governor’s office, I would urge you to begin lopping off the Opponents of Equality as rapidly as possible. History has shown that gay marriage is not an issue of faith but a lever for power, and as long as that weapon exists, it will surely be aimed at you.

Sincerely,

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