Alienating the Base?

From the Washington Blade:

As First Lady Laura Bush stood behind her, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice administered the oath of office on Oct. 10 to gay physician Mark Dybul as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, a post that has the rank of ambassador.

In a ceremony held at the State Department's historic Benjamin Franklin Room, Dybul placed his hand on a bible held by his domestic partner, Jason Claire. Dybul's parents and Claire's mother stood nearby as Dybul became the nation's third openly gay ambassador.

"I am truly honored and delighted to have the opportunity to swear in Mark Dybul as our next Global AIDS Coordinator," Rice said. "I am pleased to do that in the presence of Mark's parents, Claire and Richard, his partner, Jason, and his mother-in-law, Marilyn," she said.

"You have a wonderful family to support you, Mark, and I know that's always important to us. Welcome," Rice said.

In remarks following the searing-in, Laura Bush noted that Dybul will oversee President Bush's $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, a widely acclaimed program backed by AIDS activists and approved by Congress as part of an aggressive U.S. effort to fight AIDS in developing countries.
In the world of the Christianist Base, the difference between 'partner' and 'husband' is a small one, a line of difference in law and semantics heroically defended by George W. Bush, the man appointed by God to do so.

So why is his Secretary of State "pleased" to have an ambassador's partner there for the swearing in?

* * * * *

I feel a little dirty, a little guilty writing this post. If I were Secretary Rice, I would be pleased to have Ambassador Dybul's partner there for the swearing in. I think that his skills, knowledge, and experience should be the only things that make his achieving the rank of Ambassador notable, not his sexual orientation.

I don't like making his being gay the story.

Dybul is a well regarded expert on the care and prevention of AIDS. His predecessor, Randall Robias, a 'Big Pharma' executive appointed by George W. Bush was appointed head of the U.S. Agency for International Development in January and Dybul had served as acting Global AIDS Coordinator since January.

I point out Secretary Rice's acknowledgement of Jason Claire as Dybul's domestic partner because it's part of the same narrative as the outing of Mark Foley. (Let me be the first to say that Dybul and Claire are are much more representative of the gay population than a aberrant predator like Foley.)

The Christianist Base elected George W. Bush and his cronies to protect them from the [perceived] creeping threat of secularists, humanists and homosexuals. Yet his government not only appoints a gay man as an ambassador but goes out of its way to recognize his partner. This breaks down the myth that Republicans have used to get elected for the last decade. This isn't going unnoticed in circles that care about 'family values.'

Those who style the United States as a Christian Nation won't take kindly to a party that appoints people that don't fit their narrow standards of 'christian' to represent America.

The conflict between a Conservative Elite that panders to Christianists with anti-gay rhetoric while allowing homosexuals within their ranks and within their staffs and cabinets and an increasingly aware and disillusioned base will be the defining narrative in the coming years.

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