Nearly two weeks after Rep. Mark Foley resigned from Congress, said he was gay and vanished into rehab, the Republican Party's sex scandal escalates by the day. Dubbed Pagegate, revelations and rumors of a Republican cover-up threaten to engulf leading party members and trigger a "toss the bums out" attitude at the polls next month. In a retaliatory move intended to motivate its evangelical base, the radical right this week is turning up the volume on its homo-hating rhetoric, equating gay men with pedophiles and declaring open season on the Log Cabin Republicans and other conservative queers.
According to a Wall Street Journal columnist, Pagegate proves that homosexuality exists on a continuum from "just another gay guy" to "a compulsive, predatory sex offender."
According to the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, Pagegate proves that the GOP was no place for gays: "I think what social conservatives are questioning is, can this be both the party of values and the party that attracts congressmen like Foley, who, you know, preys on little kids?"
According to Pat Robertson, the billionaire TV preacher, Pagegate proves that "flamers" like Foley are a moral disease that will only worsen if the Democrats win Congress: "Miss Pelosi has marched in gay pride parades with the North American Man-Boy Love Association."
Meantime, back on planet Earth, some GOP leaders are reportedly trying to pin the Foley fiasco on the so-called Velvet Mafia, the small but influential group of gay Republican staffers on the Hill who they say covered for Foley over the years. Refusing to serve as scapegoats, the gay Repubs, for their part, are spilling to reporters details about how they warned their party's leadership about bad-boy Foley way back in the last century. Although outnumbered, the GOP gays are digging in their heels, and the coming Capitol Hill conflagration may give new meaning to the word "flamers."
Adding a whole new twist to the plot, according to David Corn in The Nation magazine, gay advocates are mounting a campaign to out the gay Republicans, circulating a list of names to their enemies, the leaders of the radical right. "With a possible shoot-out about to ensue within the Republican caucus, these gay politicos—who have long been upset with gays who serve a Republican party that opposes gay rights and embraces outfits that demonize gays and lesbians—were hoping to pour gasoline on the fire."
Just this week, on National Coming Out Day, one of these gay politicos, blogger Mike Rogers at blogactive.com, began posting the list, compete with names, faces and Friendster profiles. Rumor has it that the yellow brick road will lead all the way to House Speaker Dennis "I will not resign" Hastert's bedroom, which he shares with his unmarried chief of staff.