Global AIDS Czar Called “Fox in Charge of the Henhouse”

Reacting to the swearing-in of openly gay Mark Dybul as the nation’s new Global AIDS Coordinator by Condeleeza Rice, some from the powerful religious right-wing base of the Republican party expressed “disgust” with the administration’s pick and with comments Rice made at the swearing in ceremony.

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, says the secretary’s comments were “profoundly offensive” and fly in the face of the Bush administration’s endorsement of a federal marriage protection amendment, though that backing be [sic] less than enthusiastic.

“We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,” says Sprigg. “But even beyond that, the deferential treatment that was given not only to him but his partner and his partner’s family by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is very distressing.”

Rice.bmp What were the “disgusting” comments by Rice? 

“I am truly honored and delighted to have the opportunity to swear in Mark Dybul as our next Global AIDS Coordinator,” Rice said. “I am pleased to do that in the presence of Mark’s parents, Claire and Richard, his partner, Jason, and his mother-in-law, Marilyn,” she said.

“You have a wonderful family to support you, Mark, and I know that’s always important to us. Welcome,” Rice said.

The Family Research Council is now demanding an explanation from Rice about why she used the term “mother-in-law.” Suggesting it somehow adds insult to injury, FRC wants to know specifically why Rice used the term in front of the First Lady.  

If Laura Bush was offended in any way it was hard to tell.  

In remarks following the swearing-in, Laura Bush noted that Dybul will oversee President Bush’s $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, a widely acclaimed program backed by AIDS activists and approved by Congress as part of an aggressive U.S. effort to fight AIDS in developing countries.

“I know you’ll bring great skill and enthusiasm to the fight against AIDS,” Laura Bush said. “Congratulations, ambassador.”

The Bush-nominated Dybul was confirmed by unanimous Senate vote on Aug. 3.  The swearing-in ceremony which produced the nation’s third openly gay ambassador was held in the Benjamin Franklin room at the State Department where Dybul reportedly placed his hand on a Bible held by his domestic partner, Jason Claire.

What’s Foley got to do with it?

Sprigg says in light of the Foley scandal, “it’s inexplicable that a conservative administration would do such things.”

The religious right have clearly seized upon the Foley scandal as carte blanche to say in the mainstream media what they usually reserve for their own audiences. And that is what they really think about gay Americans – dropping the pretense of using more innocuous sounding anti-gay code phrases such as “preserving traditional marriage” or marriage is “between one man and one woman.”   

And in yet one more example of right-wing’s willingness to scapegoat and demonize gay Americans, they have now turned their misguided homophobic rhetoric upon gay Republicans.

As the USA Today report notes, the Rice statement comes in the midst of news stories dealing with the Mark Foley scandal, many of which have talked about the number of homosexual staffers on the Republican payroll. Some pro-family people are starting to wonder if this homosexual influence within the GOP may account for the party’s lack of action on social conservative issues. FRC’s Tony Perkins says that among the questions that need to be asked are: “Has the social agenda of the GOP been stalled by homosexual members or staffers?”

In a typical display of right wing message discipline, today yet another FRC spokesperson said:

“The big-tent strategy could ultimately spell doom for the Republican Party,” said Tom McClusky, chief lobbyist for the Family Research Council, a Christian advocacy group. “All a big-tent strategy seems to be doing is attracting a bunch of clowns.”

The Agape Press story concludes:  

[T]he USA Today account of the swearing-in ceremony concedes that the Foley investigation may be exposing what it calls a “politically awkward” fact of life in the world of national politics. That is, some leaders in the Republican Party “practice a more tolerant brand of politics” in office hiring than others in the party have conveyed on the campaign trail.

Politically awkward.  Ya’ think??