News - March 1996

Buchanan anti-gay statements appeal to conservative fears

NEW YORK -- Republican presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan threw a new salvo at the gay and lesbian community on the eve of the New Hampshire GOP caucus Feb. 19 when he stated that he would not hire anyone openly gay for a staff position in a Buchanan administration. The candidate, already under fire over a controversy involving two former campaign aides with ties to racist groups, also reiterated his position against gays in the military.

"Buchanan is clearly appealing to the homophobia of the religious right and working class, mostly rural, southern white voters who have been fed a line of propaganda, and fear that gays and lesbians and other minorities want 'special rights' and privileges," said Mark F. Johnson, News Media Director for GLAAD. "He is just adding to the 'us against them' mentality among conservative Republicans by making statements like this," Johnson added.

Buchanan stated that gays and lesbians would be allowed in his administration only under one condition--that they remain in the closet. "I've worked with people in the Nixon White House who were gay, not openly gay." They're good people in a lot of ways, according to Buchanan, who said that he would not hesitate to have "folks like that " in his administration. However, he warned that there would be no "Roberta Achtenberg's," referring to the former assistant secretary of HUD who left the Clinton administration to run for mayor of San Francisco. Achtenberg was openly lesbian while working in the administration.

Instead of moving forward and continuing the advances made in recent years, Buchanan would rather turn back the clock to the days when being gay in government was something to keep deeply hidden for fear of blackmail. "The president who takes the nation into the 21st century should be looking ahead with a new vision of equality and inclusion, tapping into the talents of a cross-section of Americans," stated Johnson. "Instead, Buchanan would send us back to the ugly period of separatism where the rights and privileges of whole groups of people were subjugated because of the hatred and misplaced fears of others." Johnson concluded that these kind of statements along with recent negative comments made by the Republican presidential candidates on same-gender marriage, will make gays and lesbians walk swiftly over to the Democrats in November.

GLAAD is a national organization that promotes fair, accurate and inclusive representation as a means of challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.

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