Playing the gay card

Posted: Aug 16, 2004 12:00 AM

Add "gayness" to patriotism and religion as a final refuge for scoundrels.

In a remarkable announcement last Thursday, Democratic Gov. James McGreevey said he would resign his office after the November general election because pressure associated with his homosexuality would not allow him to effectively do his job.

Disgraced black political figures have long played the race card to deflect criticism about wrongdoing. Some Republicans have wrapped themselves in the flag or religion for the same reason. Now we have a governor playing the "gay card," garnished with a little religion - a twofer in the self-justification Olympics.

McGreevey is indictable - figuratively and possibly literally - for plenty of things that have nothing to do with his sexual practices or his religion. Corruption was not invented in New Jersey, or by McGreevey, but it has found a bipartisan home there.

Start with McGreevey's reputed "lover," Golan Cipel, who claims he is not gay and was sexually harassed by the governor. McGreevey put him on the state payroll with a six-figure salary to look after homeland security, despite his having no qualifications for the job.

Cipel is an Israeli citizen and does not have the proper security clearances to access classified documents. McGreevey aides say that Cipel tried to get $50 million as a "cash settlement" from the governor, as well as his approval for a private medical college in the state.

Then there is William D. Watley. He resigned as secretary of the Commerce and Economic Growth Commission during an investigation into his former chief of staff and because of a possible conflict of interest surrounding an $11.5 million government loan (which was ultimately canceled) for construction at the church where Watley is pastor.

Roger Chugh, a McGreevey campaign aide in 2001, was appointed assistant secretary of state but resigned amid accusations that he offered special government treatment to businesses and also threatened businesses as ways of raising campaign contributions.

David D'Amiano, a Democratic fund-raiser, is another person connected to McGreevey who's been accused of such practices. He has been indicted on charges that he offered a farmer government favors in exchange for $40,000 in campaign contributions.

Both Gary Taffet, McGreevey's chief of staff, and Paul Levinsohn, the governor's chief counsel, resigned, and a federal grand jury is investigating whether their billboard company benefited financially from their government connections. Taffet has also been charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

All of this has occurred during a two-and-a-half-year-old administration. But in New Jersey, it's usual business.

Taking religious refuge, McGreevey said he doesn't believe God deliberately keeps people down. He's right. People make their own choices and benefit, or not, based on their decisions.

McGreevey then performed a little theological sleight of hand. He said he believed that "God enables all things to work for the greater good." That's a reference to Romans 8:28. But McGreevey left out the rest: "to those who have been called according to his purpose."

Is McGreevey recommending adultery so more of God's purposes can be worked out? Or as the writer of Romans put it elsewhere, "Should sin abound that grace might more abound? Heaven forbid." (Romans 6:1)

McGreevey spoke of "feelings" he has had since childhood, meaning feelings for other males. We all have "feelings" or inclinations to do certain things, but we suppress them because acting on them can lead to destruction, as evidenced by the fallout from McGreevey's affair.

Gay rights activists want to sell the notion that denying same-sex urges is to deny one's "identity." As a heterosexual, my "identity" is determined by the God McGreevey misquoted and misrepresented.

What about McGreevey's current wife (a former wife left him), who stood beside him and held his hand? We have seen this "stand by your man" tableau before, most recently with Hillary Clinton, but also with Lee Hart (wife of the wanderer Gary Hart) and Effi Barry (former wife of the former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry).

How sad to see these women trotted out to give their husbands moral cover for their immoral acts. They might as well be saying, "I'd like to thank my wife for standing by me and demeaning herself, because I have been a jerk with little concern for HER feelings."

New Jersey needs a political exorcism, but in a state run by a Democrat machine, who can effectively play the integrity card?