As we know, there is one sin that any Republican member of Congress can commit for which they will never be forgiven by the Religious Right, and that is not supporting their anti-gay agenda.
Whereas a Republican like Sen. David Vitter could admit to involvement with prostitutes and still receive the support of Religious Right groups when he sought re-election, other Republicans like Rep. Joseph Cao found out the hard way that if you don’t toe the anti-gay line, you will find yourself on the receiving end of Religious Right attack ads.
Which brings us to Sen. John Ensign, the Republican Senator from Nevada who has been embroiled in a controversy for over a year now stemming from an extra-marital affair he with a staffer and a subsequent effort to keep it quiet.
Since the story broke, the Religious Right has had next to nothing to say about Ensign’s infidelity, with the small exception of FRC’s Tony Perkins saying it was “disappointing.” But I suspect that that is about to change if this report from Greg Sargent turns out to be true:
Another step forward on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ladies and gents.
In a letter to constituents who have inquired about his position on DADT, GOP Senator John Ensign strongly suggests he is leaning towards supporting repeal of the policy, another sign that there may be enough tacit GOP support in the Senate for repeal to get it past a GOP filibuster.
“It is my firm belief that Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be able to fight and risk their lives in defense of this great nation,” Ensign writes in the letter, which I’ve obtained. “As a nation currently engaged in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, the focus of all decisions affecting military readiness, recruiting and retention, and unit cohesion should be to maximize the success of ongoing operations.”
In the letter, Ensign adds the caveat that he’s still awaiting a Pentagon report, due out on December 1st, that will gauge the impact of repealing the policy. Asked for comment, Ensign spokesperson Jennifer Cooper reiterated this point: “Senator Ensign is waiting on the report from the Pentagon and the testimony of the military chiefs to see if any changes to this policy can or should be done in a way so as not to harm the readiness or war fighting capabilities of our troops.”
Ensign has already stated that he intends to run for re-election in 2012, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly start hearing the Religious Right attack him for his immorality and infidelity – and not because he had an affair and tried to cover it up (which, to date, they haven’t cared about at all) but because he committed the even bigger sin of supporting equality.