While openly gay Jacob Meister campaigns over on the Democratic side, it seems the Republican contest for the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama is the contest with the real gay scandal. Illinois Republican Representative and active Navy Intelligence reservist Mark Kirk--who has voted against the homophobic Federal Marriage Amendment, and in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act--now has to field schoolyard taunts from one of his primary competitors, Andy Martin; the "Obama is secretly Muslim" guy.
Comparing this situation with a similar controversy taking place in the same race for the other party's candidate, openly gay Democratic primary candidate, Jacob Meister, released a statement this afternoon, saying in part:
As the only openly gay candidate for the U.S. Senate, I have experienced firsthand the bigotry and prejudice that the sexual orientation issue evokes. The subtle innuendo of the 'family values' issue, used by politicians such as Sarah Palin, Andy Martin and my opponent, David Hoffman, to infer that people who are lawfully refused the right to marry or begin a family are somehow less 'qualified' and relegated to second-class citizen status, must stop.
This is nothing less than an assault on the civil rights of all Americans, including the tens of millions of gay and lesbian people living in this country. It is appalling that we live in an America that still allows one's sexual orientation to be used as fodder for political attacks and, worse yet, as an obstacle to the civil rights availed to all of us through the constitution of the United States.
During the course of this campaign, my sexual orientation has been the source of underhanded remarks from my opponent, David Hoffman; the catalyst for a verbal and threatened physical attack toward a member of my staff; and the justification for one online suburban publication to accuse me of treason. Despite the enormous economic, national security and domestic policy challenges on which I have tried to focus my campaign - some think it more important to question someone's sexual orientation than to propose their own ideas on how to confront the many problems that desperately need our attention.
Kirk is the front-runner for the GOP nomination this February 2, and is expected to win. The Illinois Republican party quickly released a statement disavowing Andy Martin and the rumors, including this statement from party chair, Patrick Brady, "His statements today are consistent with his history of bizarre behavior and often times hate-filled speech which has no place in the Illinois Republican Party. Mr. Martin will no longer be recognized as a legitimate Republican candidate by the Illinois Republican Party." However, with a month to go, Martin will likely continue pushing the issue.
Martin--former chair of "Democrats for John McCain"--describes himself as an "insurgent Internet powerhouse" and a "legendary Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic."
Martin is currently running the following radio ad on Chicago Tribune owned WBBM 780:
I'm Andy Martin, Republican candidate for United States Senator. I approved this message because Illinois Republicans deserve the truth about their candidates.
I have over forty years of experience and integrity fighting corruption, and fighting for the truth in politics.
I helped expose many of Barack Obama's lies in 2008.
Today, I am fighting for the facts about Mark Kirk. Illinois Republican leader Jack Roeser says there is a, "solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual." Roeser suggests that Kirk is part of a Republican Party homosexual club. Lake County Illinois Republican leader Ray True says Kirk has surrounded himself with homosexuals.
Mark Kirk should tell Republican voters the truth.
I'm Andy Martin a Republican you can trust for U.S. Senator.
Please vote for Andy Martin.
Paid for by Illinois Republicans for Andy Martin.
Blatant homophobic scare tactics hardly begin to cover this.
This is a man who has brought so many frivolous lawsuits to trial that he was found unfit to practice law by the Illinois Supreme Court. In 2008 the New York Times called him "The man behind the whispers about Obama." That story stated Martin "filed so many lawsuits that a judge barred him from doing so in any federal court without preliminary approval."
Eric Elk, Kirk's campaign manager, said in a statement that "the ad is not true and is degrading to the political process. The people of Illinois deserve better."
According to the Chicago Tribune's "Clout Street" blog:
True said today that he "never made that statement" attributed to him by Martin. True said he appeared recently on a show hosted by Roeser on WIND-AM (560) and "I made a comment not about him (Kirk) at all, but that there were some people on his (Kirk's) staff that had a special orientation."
"I never said Mark was a homosexual and there's no evidence to that fact," True said in a telephone interview. "We know each other well."
The piece goes on to show us just how low Martin will go--even dropping hefty doses of antisemitism along the way [emphasis mine]:
...For decades, Martin, previously known as Anthony R. Martin-Trigona, has sought a variety of public offices as a Democrat and as a Republican.
In Illinois, he received 34 percent of the vote in 2008 in losing a two-man race for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination to the little-known Steve Sauerberg. In 2006, he got less than 1 percent of the vote in a multi-candidate bid for the Republican nomination for governor.
In federal court filings from the 1980s related to bankruptcy proceedings against him, Martin called one federal judge a "crooked, slimy Jew, who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race." He also expressed sympathy to the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
In 1999 when Martin ran for president, he aired a TV ad in New Hampshire that said GOP contender George W. Bush "had a cocaine problem" and suffered from "alcohol abuse."
Martin gained some attention during last year's presidential contest by contending President Barack Obama was a Muslim and contesting whether Obama was born in Hawaii.
During the campaign, Martin was featured on a Fox News broadcast about Obama in which Martin contended that Obama's work as a community organizer was "training for a radical overthrow of the government." The Washington Post reported that a Fox News official later called Martin's appearance a "mistake" and said the guest had not been vetted properly.
This year, Mark Kirk divorced his wife of eight years, Kimberly, but she stood by him and fully endorsed his run for the Senate when he announced his candidacy in July.
Openly gay Democratic primary candidate, Jacob Meister, hammered home the severity of anti-gay attacks like this in his public statement, earlier this afternoon in Chicago.
Whether you're a candidate for the United States Senate, a soldier in the U.S. military or an average American fighting for domestic partnership benefits, equal tax treatment, Social Security benefits or the simple right to visit a loved one in the hospital - the fact remains that American society is still one that legally discriminates against its citizens for any reason. Thomas Jefferson stated clearly that the constitution was created 'so we may form a more perfect union,' and our work will never be finished, our ideals never upheld and our responsibility as the global leader of free societies never fulfilled if we continue to allow the legal discrimination of any one of our citizens.
I got into this race to talk about creating jobs, rebuilding our economy and protecting our nation from terrorism. But it is clear that now is the time to break this barrier once and for all, and to win cleanly, the social and legal equality all gay Americans deserve. This kind of McCarthy era witch hunt has no place in American society. This is a perennial attack that cowardly politicians use every election cycle.
The wake of this incident could have far reaching effects for the campaign--especially if underdog Jacob Meister pulls out a primary win, and faces Mark Kirk in the state-wide contest.