No on Largent, Armey for Majority Leader
In reviewing the top candidates for Majority Leader, it is clear that Dick
Armey, who has been consistently hostile to the gay community and has
projected a negative, anti-gay image as Majority Leader of the House, and
Steve Largent, a lead sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act, should not be
elected Majority Leader of the House for the 106th Congress.
We are talking to all of our friends on Capitol Hill and urging them NOT to support either Armey or Largent for Majority Leader. It's time for a change in style and in substance, to move away from gay bashing and giving a free hand to the far right, and to move forward in unifying the party behind a positive, inclusive conservative agenda.
While many are familiar with Armey's loud, "biblical" defense of Trent Lott's anti-gay comments last summer, comparing gays to kleptomaniacs and saying that we are diseased, here is a review of Largents comments on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer last summer, at the height of James Dobson's ex-gay ad campaign:
July 22, 1998
Largent: "Let me say, Jim,the honest truth is any time your talking about public policy, all decisions you make are moral issues."
Lehrer: "In what way is this a moral issue to you?"
Largent: "Well, what we have to understand is that you have to rely on 2000 years of Judeo-Christian history when you start talking about the issue of homosexuality. Believe me before I came to Washington DC, I wasn't aware of how aggressively the homosexual community was pursuing a very well thought out, well-financed agenda in Washington. I am here as a legislator to defend those 2000 years of Judeo Christian history that I follow. That is the moral guideline that I use."
Lehrer: "Congressman Largent, is that the way you see it? Are these people different and is that why they are being targeted?"
Largent: "I don't believe that's the case at all. But I would agree with Rich [Tafel] in this: the thing that is fascinating to me about studying the life of Jesus is that he was able to confront people with their sin and at the same time they didn't feel rejected. They always felt loved and I feel that's the way we need to deal with this issue as well."
Lehrer: "What you said a while ago is that . . . . homosexuality is a sin in your eyes, correct?"
Largent: "That's correct."
Lehrer: "And that is at the heart of the argument for you?"
Largent: "It is. But let me say this: I don't think there is a hierarchy of sin. I would say the same thing is true about adultery or any sort of promiscuity that people are committing today."
Lehrer: "Congressman Largent, why has this [controversy about homosexuality] come up now?"
Largent: "I think that this has not just come up now. I think that this is an issue that's been around for a long long time."
Lehrer: "But why in such a major way, public way, as we saw in our setup piece. As Spencer Michael laid out in the past 2-3 weeks it became a very intense issue."
Largent: "Well, I think it is a reflection that their are some very deep-seated emotions on both sides of this issue. It's a flashpoint. There's no questions about it. And I don't know if there was a lull in anything else newsworthy, but whenever this issue is struck up it is a flashpoint, it becomes very very heated. As I said, people have very strong emotions on both sides."
Lehrer: "Do you think, Congressman Largent, that it should be debated and talked about openly just the way we are doing here tonight."
Largent: "I do. And the thing is, I think you have to get to the heart of the issue. As Gary [Bauer] said, we are talking about theological ramifications and justifications but in this town what we're talking about is legislation about where do we want to see our country move on issues like same-sex marriage and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and issues like confirming a homosexual nominee for ambassador to Luxembourg. Those are public policy issues. And, again, I don't think that America is ready to move in the direction that the homosexual agenda wants to push us."
Largent: "It is very hard to get to the facts and the figures and to debate this in a non-emotional setting... this should not be a political issue that we catch people with: that is clearly wrong. When you get to the facts that homosexual sex between men is an unhealthy lifestyle and that it is unnatural. I think when we start talking about things like that, and I hope hope we do, we can have a good discussion, But I do believe that it is an issue much like abortion, where there is no middle ground.