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Is Fred Barnes Homophobic Or Just Out Of Touch?

Reported by Priscilla - December 28, 2008 -

During the “Up and Down” segment of the December 20th Beltway Boys show, Rick Warren (not surprisingly on America’s “Christian” network) was given an “up.” Fred Barnes said that gay rights groups are “hopping mad” because of Warren’s promotion for California’s Prop 8 which outlaws same sex marriage. Not surprisingly, Barnes didn’t mention that many in the “pro-life” (anti-choice) movement are also not happy campers. A clip of Warren, stating that he was against changing a 5,000 year definition of marriage, was played. The clip was a nice reinforcement for the homophobes in the audience as Warren conflated gay marriage with incest and pedophila: .” I'm opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I'm opposed to older guys marrying a child and calling that a marriage.” Warren also said that he was against polygamy – a comment rich in irony as, at one time in the US, this was an acceptable “redefinition” of marriage. Kondracke took a reasoned view. Not surprisingly Barnes didn’t – and come to find out, he doesn’t seem to have a reasoned view of gays as evidenced by past commentary.

Kondracke said that Obama was just fulfilling a campaign promise to reach out to others with whom he disagrees. To his credit, Mort referenced Warren’s offensive statements about gay marriage being equivalent to incest and polygamy. He added that divorce was a worse threat to marriage than gay marriage. Barnes (with arms clasped around himself), however, would have none of that and said that although he agreed with the divorce point, “all that other stuff is beside the point.” (Coment: Excuse me, a law abiding, tax paying married gay citizen, in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California is equal to a pedophile or someone in an incestuous relationship is not “beside the point.” It is very, very offensive.) Barnes added that Warren, who did a “great” interview with Obama and McCain, is “the most prominent Christian preacher” in the country; and as such, Obama’s pick was a “logical choice” and “great outreach.” (Comment: Interestingly, Barnes did not cite Warren’s pro environment and pro AIDs research/funding stances). But then Barnes went on to make a comment that, in typical rightwing fashion, was based on nothing but projection: “And the truth is most people agree with him. Mort, you didn't deal with the fundamental thing he said. He's not for redefining the way marriage has been defined 5,000 years. Most people aren't. Regardless of that other stuff. I think you're going to have to live with that for now.”

Comment: Barnes is obviously unaware of a recent Newsweek poll which shows that support for gay marriage and civil unions is growing. Thus, Barnes’ statement that “most people” agree with Rick Warren and his bizarre notion of what marriage has historically been is specious. (Comment: the 5,000 years thing is just so historically and anthropologically wrong. Certainly the Bible provides examples of one man and lots of booty.) But what was really revealing was Barnes’ dismissal of Warren’s vile comparisons of gay marriage to incest and child abuse which do suggest a certain homophobia. But Barnes has a track record. During the recent presidential campaign, Barnes encouraged McCain to use gays as a wedge issue – in particular the issue of allowing gays to serve openly in the military which Barnes claimed was not popular. He also mentioned gay marriage as a way to stir the pot. Not only does Colin Powell support a change in course; but so retired US generals. A 2006 Zogby Poll found that 73 of military personnel would accept gays serving openly. But the most egregious example of Barnes’ bigotry is his involvement in smearing Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church. Barnes was on the board of the very right wing Institute for Religion and Democracy when he wrote an article which reported on allegations of improper sexual conduct on the part of Robinson entitle “the Gay Bishop’s Links.” This report, later discredited, was rejected by all major news media except Fox News. Interestingly, a major donor to the IRD was a man who was a major figure in the campaign to pass Prop 8, Howard Ahmanson, Jr.

So is Fred Barnes homophobic? I report, you decide.