According to The Huffington Post, Republican Senator Jim DeMint thinks that “if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend – she shouldn’t be in the classroom.” DeMint has been spewing this type of rhetoric since 2004, which makes him exactly the type of politician comedians Sarah Silverman and Kathy Griffin are pointing to in the deaths of gay teens like Asher Brown and Tyler Clementi.
DeMint spoke to attendees of The Greater Freedom Rally held at the First Baptist North Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina Friday night. Regarding his anti-gay remarks, he told the crowd, “(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense. But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down. They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.”
DeMint has since backed off his comments, asking his communications director to reiterate that the Senator “believes that hiring decisions at local schools are a local school board issue, not a federal issue.” Note that he hasn’t changed his opinion about whether or not gays should teach, but rather that he feels he was out of line addressing something outside of his jurisdiction. Uh-huh. This is not just a gay issue, of course, since DeMint also made it clear that he thinks promiscuous women aren’t fit to teach children, either.
NOW President Terry O’Neill minced no words in regards to DeMint, saying, ”Sexist bigots like Sen. Jim DeMint don’t belong in the United States Congress. He thinks gay women and men and sexually active single women should be banned from teaching, but he said nothing about sexually active, single straight men.” Touché.
The problem here, Senator DeMint, is that schools are publicly funded. And publicly funded institutions must adhere to the rights promised to all Americans in the constitution. Yes, freedom of religion is one of them, but so is the separation of church and state. So your religious rules don’t apply in a public school. At the very least, I’m surprised you’re not advocating for some type of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, since every school needs a music teacher. (And an art teacher. Even if she is a former prostitute.)
DeMint says of his future in Washington, “politics only works when we’re realigned with our Savior.” Does he mean George W. Bush? Or Sarah Palin? I’m not sure. But I do know that DeMint and his right-wing co-horts have a lot of explaining to do.