Last week's Washington tempest blew in when Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) said that if the Supreme Court in a pending case says homosexual practice is constitutionally protected, "then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."
Gay advocacy groups quickly made political hay. The Human Rights Campaign expressed outrage that Sen. Santorum "compared homosexuality with bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery" in his "deeply hurtful" remarks. The Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights similarly complained that "his remarks show nothing but contempt for lesbian and gay people."
Whoa! Who's showing contempt here? Logical gay groups should applaud Sen. Santorum's recognition that a Supreme Court gay breakthrough will also bring liberation for others with non-monogamous sexual interests. Since when do homosexuals look down on others who follow their own bliss? But maybe this is good news: Our headline could read, "Gays join conservative Christians in criticizing bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery."
The Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian Alliance unctuously proclaimed, "Discrimination against any group of citizens based on who they are is simply wrong"-yet the gay lobbies were implicitly discriminating against those involved in consensual incest. "Extremism in the defense of vice is no vice," they should say, and then proceed to the postmodern claim that it's all a matter of opinion whether a particular act is vicious or virtuous.
But let's move to the politics, since this is all about trying to drive a wedge within the GOP. "We're urging the Republican leadership to condemn the remarks," said David Smith, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign. "They're the same types of remarks that sparked outrage toward Sen. Lott."
No, they're not. Trent Lott resigned his Senate leadership post in December after making remarks widely seen as supporting racial discrimination. Sen. Lott's words ran counter to the Bible, which is color-blind. Sen. Santorum's words reflect the Bible, which says that homosexual practice, like adultery or incest, is wrong. President Bush, who looks to biblical teaching for guidance on important issues, rightly criticized Mr. Lott, but he should support Mr. Santorum's continuing as conference chairman, the third-highest seat in the GOP Senate leadership.
Good politics, good theology, and good constitutional law go together here. The Republican Party should be open to Bible believers, people of other religions, and atheists, but if it wants to retain the support of Christians and Orthodox Jews it should not chastise those who defend biblical truth. Besides, even though the state of Texas may have been unwise under current social conditions to start up a case concerning homosexuality, the Supreme Court should not establish a new, loose-constructionist constitutional right.
Some Republicans who covet gay lobby campaign contributions will pressure the president to signal a Santorum sack. Because he spoke out in the Trent Lott controversy, he should not sit this one out; Santorum foes will see silence as consent. This is a crucial political fork in the road, and the George W. Bush who was tough enough to stand up to supporters of Saddam should refuse to be pushed around by supporters of sodomy.