Alex Blaze

Homophobic ad in Kentucky accuses Mitch McConnell of being gay

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 03, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: AFSCME, gay rights, hypocritical motherfuckers, Kentucky, LGBT, Michelangelo Signorile, Mike Rogers, Mitch McConnell, outing, queer

AFSCME (a union) homophobic radio ad against Mitch McConnell. mcconnell.pngput out a To the right is a poster that Page One Kentucky is reporting went up all over the state, using much of the same language as the AFSCME ad, even though it's unattributed.

This is homophobic and wrong. Whoever's doing the poster ought to stop and there's no justification for this. Being gay shouldn't disqualify someone from public office. It doesn't make someone a joke. And that's the message that both the radio ad and the poster are sending.

Michelangelo Signorile defends the ad:

Yes, the people pushing it are no doubt trying to appeal to homophobia in many voters. But they are also appealing to my -- and presumably many Kentucky voters' -- desire not to have a hypocrite and liar in office. And that's not a bad thing. Sorry, but I have little sympathy for the antigay McConnell, and certainly people should know if indeed he is some tormented closet case.

Since McConnnell is a senator who has voted antigay over and over again, it's certainly relevant to ask the question if things just don't add up, and there's nothing wrong with implying someone is gay or asking the question, is there? And if McConnell is not, and there is some other truth to his discharge, why not just state it?

I really don't know where Signorile is getting the idea that these ads are "appealing to my desire not to have a hypocrite and liar in office." There's absolutely nothing in either ad to support that claim.

But we've seen a certain type of gay liberal use the "hypocrisy" argument to push a meme that's basically homophobia in a prom dress. If the point here was really the hypocrisy, then why not simply write that word in the ads and make them focus on hypocrisy and "dishonesty"?

Well, that wouldn't get votes, because one thing we've learned after years of Republican rule is that Americans don't really care about hypocrisy. They care about the image one presents, and sometimes (like now) get serious enough to be concerned with competence.

The fact that there (queer and straight) liberals who would justify the use ridiculing a Republican for being gay instead of merely pointing out hypocrisy betrays the fact that there are isolated times and instances in which Democrats are willing to use homophobia to get votes.

Why not just say that McConnell's voting record is bad because he's voted against LGBTQ rights issues, no matter if he's gay, straight, bi, or queer? If we can't answer that question without "But it wouldn't get as many votes!" then we need to reexamine the role homophobia is playing here.

These attacks don't just hurt McConnell's credibility, they work to foster an environment in which homophobia's OK. These ads are directed against queer people everywhere, including the queer teens who go to churches in Kentucky who'll see the ads and think less of themselves, the future gay-bashers who'll feel just that much more justified in their violence later on because of the constant stirring up of homophobia for political gain, and the employers who laugh when they see that poster and learn to associate silliness and incompetence with queers.

The target here isn't Mitch McConnell or hypocrisy. It's all of us.

Update: Gregory King at AFSCME sent this statement.

AFSCME has nothing to do with the badly photoshopped flyer posted on the Internet. Moreover, our radio advertisement in Kentucky says absolutely nothing about Senator McConnell's sexual orientation. We are as interested in Senator McConnell's undisclosed service records just as we were eight years ago in those of George W. Bush. To suggest that AFSCME is somehow gay-baiting because we have urged Senator McConnell to be straight with the voters of Kentucky is an outrageous and false charge. That is as ridiculous as suggesting that Senator John McCain named his bus the Straight Talk Express in order to appeal to anti-gay voters.

AFSCME is being unfairly smeared with an unfounded charge of gay-baiting. We have done no such thing.

It's great to hear that they weren't behind that ridiculous poster. Although I can see why so many people thought they were, considering the similarities between the language in it and the radio ad.

Here's the relevant part of the radio ad:

Now, people in Kentucky are asking why Mitch McConnell won't release his entire military records. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that McConnell was discharged after serving less than six months. But McConnell won't discuss the full details.

What is he hiding?

After 24 years in Washington, Mitch McConnell is responsible for the mess there.

Isn't it time for Mitch McConnell to be straight with us?

What do they think he's hiding in his military records? Everyone thought GWB was hiding his records because he deserted. It wasn't idle speculation. In McConnell's case, the going rumor is that he was discharged because he was caught with a dude.

And that use of the word "straight" in this context is a bit... coincidental. But I guess they have their plausible deniability there.


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Reformed Ascetic | November 3, 2008 5:17 PM

Thanks Alex. This poster will become a classic case study in political bigotry.

I really have mixed feelings about this one.

Many of us here have known for years about McConnell - and Elaine Chou's - proclivities. That is the very definition of a marriage of convenience - Chou was a known lesbian here, and Mitch is a lifelong crossdresser - and member of a transgender support group. One of my friends (also a friend of Monica Roberts) was a legislative aide for Mitch, and is a TS. Mitch is definitely at least a CD, no doubt about it, but nobody's made it an issue until now, at least in rural Kentucky, where this was done.

I don't think for a moment that Bruce Lunsford is going to be a champion of GLBT issues, but he wouldn't have to do much to be better than Mitch McConnell. I will definitely be voting for Lunsford, fer sher, as we say in Luavull. Mitch McConnell will get my vote when the weather in Hell is the same as it is in Iqaluit, Nunavut.(http://weather.yahoo.com/forecast/CAXX0202_f.html) I hate hypocrites as badly as I hate Republicans, and Mitch McConnell is both at once.

"I really don't know where Signorile is getting the idea that these ads are 'appealing to my desire not to have a hypocrite and liar in office.' There's absolutely nothing in either ad to support that claim."

Huh? Are we looking at the same ad? Yes there is - but that's separate and distinct from the question of whether the ad is homophobic.

I see nothing whatsoever wrong with such an ad aimed at a closet case who vote to make our lives miserable.

Then where is the part of the ad that discusses dishonesty and hypocrisy? I can't see it, but apparently others can. All I see is a gay joke.

I just don't think that homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, etc. only have one target, even when directed at only one person.

Reformed Ascetic | November 4, 2008 12:27 PM

If you weren't familiar with or told about the backstory, I doubt anyone would read this ad as anything other than a homophobic attack. Let's assume that it is true that McConnell is in some way queer and that all the local LGBT community knows about this AND that all the local LGBT community "correctly" reads this ad as attacking his hypocrisy, how many of the non-LGBT community are going to read this as anything other than a call to homophobic voting.

This ad does nothing other than suggest McConnell is hiding records proving he has engaged in some unidentified queer act while making some really bad jokes.

We are seeing similar tactics aimed at candidates elsewhere in the country, but I don't see anyone defending those. If a tactic isn't right, it still isn't right when aimed at someone you don't like.

I agree with Alex that the message here is that homophobia is a valid criterion for voting. That it feeds off and supports negative stereotypes.

Even if the ad was explicitly arguing that McConnell is gay and a hypocrite for voting against gay rights, I would still have a problem with it. If you want me to vote against someone based on their LGBT related voting record, just tell me what their record is. Their sexual(/gender) orientation is at that point irrelevant, known or hypothesized. If a reporter asked McConnell about rumors and related that to his voting record, I might see it as justified depending on the specific circumstances, but I still would really only care about his voting record.

I think the possible backstories and justifications make this case interesting for discussion, but, despite life having lots of gray areas, I find that either homophobic attacks are acceptable or they aren't. I find this ad too blatant to fall into any gray area. Would it be OK to put up ads of a candidate in blackface if some felt his voting record violated some of his heritage. And if the ads were only pictures of the candidate in blackface without any explanation.

I admit that I have privately enjoyed the number of anti-gsy GOP pols who have been busted lately, but publicly I don't want to see it handled any differently than any other sex scandal (and in most cases I think that means not at all).

Actually, I think local LGBT groups should step forward to denounce these ads. Ironically, I think that would probably hurt McConnell with his target audience more than the ads themselves.

Reformed Ascetic | November 4, 2008 1:21 PM

But I do think the emotional conflicts, backstories and justifications make this a great case for discussion.

Alex, you're overanalyzing here. Kentuckians, in the areas this was distributed in, are simple people. (this was not distributed in Louisville or Lexington, which have significant GLBT communities) They don't think about hypocracy. They commit that daily. This is a state with 100 dry counties, and normally the local bootlegger and bookmaker is also the local Baptist preacher. They will vote against someone simply for being "gay", but they all know someone in their family who has "sugar in the tank" or is still a "tomboy."

As a community, we want these people to vote for Lunsford instead of McConnell. McConnell needs to go! His defeat is nothing short of an exorcism of the heart of the KY. GOP. Yes, it's a very base move on Lunsford's part, no doubt about it - but our stance here is that "the ends justify the means". McConnell is one of the worst enemies of the GLBT community, and it is ironic/hypocratic that he is, in fact, a T. Just as with Larry Craig, if he'd wanted our help, he should have walked the walk.

Reformed Ascetic | November 4, 2008 3:26 PM

Although I am familiar with Kentucky, I am not a resident and haven't been following this race. I can understand wanting to get rid of someone, and I can understand that even what appears to be coming dem sweep might not overtake this race in Kentucky. If I was a voting resident, it might be harder for me to say this, but I don't believe this tactic truly serves us in the end.

I accept that in the real world many solutions require a compromise position. That politics can be an ugly business.

But let's say this works. Are the local dems going to then go out and do the groundwork required to make such tactics ineffectual in the next election, or are they just going to avoid taking LGBT positive stances that can be used against them in the future? What happens to local LGBT candidates thinking of running for office?

You can win a war by burning the enemies fields and salting the ground, but the territory gained ends up being useless for you as well.

They don't think about hypocracy.

that's my point entirely, that people who see this won't be thinking about hypocrisy. Instead they won't want to vote for him because they'll think he's gay/trans (I doubt people who'd vote based on what they saw in a poster like that make that fine of distinctions).

I think we agree on the point here - call him gay and hope that homophobes won't vote for him. We just disagree on whether or not it's justified.

I also have mixed feelings about this -- but admittedly, the dominant one is mirth. LOL!!

Sorry, though I agree with Alex this ad is truly aimed at all of us, however indirectly, this is funny and a deserving torment for a tormented closet case who spent his life throwing the rest of us under the bus.

There must be a better way to take this guy down, but I can't think of a more delightful one. But I should admit, when it comes to repressed repugnican hypocrites, any douchbag tactics employed against them is okay with me. It's their comeuppance, and it makes me smile.

That probably makes me a bad guy, too. So what. I can live with that. We've spent way too long being pansies anyway.

Disagree with Mr. Signorile totally. He and his kind are indeed promoting homophobia. More on Facebook.