Bush Takes Big Step in Favor of Gay Rights

Support for Employment Rights and Political Appointments Contrasts with Continued Opposition to Adoption, Foster Care

April 9, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Governor George W. Bush (R-TX), the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has announced that he would appoint openly gay people to his administration, including to ambassadorships. But in answering the question on the controversy over President Clinton's nomination of Jim Hormel to be Ambassador to Luxembourg, Bush took his answer to a higher level, saying: "As a general statement, if someone can do a job, and a job that he's qualified for, that person ought to be allowed to do his job."

Bush's statement, which came in an interview in today's New York Times, went further on the issue of gay rights than any Republican presidential front-runner in history during the pre-primary season.

"Governor Bush has laid the philosophical groundwork for supporting federal non-discrimination policies and legislation," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "By saying that as a general statement, a gay person should be judged in the workplace on merit and never on sexual orientation, he is articulating a core principle at the heart of the gay rights movement. Since one in three gays voted Republican in 1998, Governor Bush clearly recognizes the importance of reaching out to the gay community early in the race."

But in the same interview, Bush stood by his previous comments in opposition to gays being adoptive or foster parents, saying: "I think it's much different than gay adoption. I strongly believe that what's best for children is a married man or a married woman as their parents. That has nothing to do with whether or not I don't respect somebody."

"Many gay people will be very glad to hear his views on employment rights and gay appointments, but there is still a core inconsistency that says gays should have full employment rights but can't be parents in any circumstances," Tafel said. "It is a bit Clintonesque in trying to please all sides rather than laying out a clear and consistent set of principles. That is cause for concern at this point."

"I have no doubt that Governor Bush is a good man," Tafel said. "His latest statements will raise the hopes of many of our people, and many mainstream Republicans. But his father was a good man and Bob Dole was a good man, and they made critical errors in judgment by pandering to the far right against their personal views, and were defeated at the polls."

"A consistent, unwavering belief in fairness and non-discrimination, one without the hollowness of principle in the Clinton-Gore administration, is what we need in the next President of the United States," Tafel said. "Governor Bush is fleshing out his positions on these issues now, but I think it's also important to learn where Al Gore stands on gay adoption, gay foster care and gay marriage. No candidates, Republican or Democrat, can take a pass on these issues in 2000."