Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli (R) believes the Constitution gives states the right to ban gay people from having sex.
Controversial Virginia Republican lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson, as I reported last week, began his career as a social conservative crusader as an anti-anti-AIDS activist in Boston, where he fought against public health initiatives that promoted condom use and sterilized needles. And Jackson's extreme views on such issues as LGBT rights ("If we need a gay rights bill, then we need an adulterers' rights bill, we need a cohabitators' rights bill, a pedophiles' rights bill, and a sadomasochists' rights bill") and Islam (he's against it) have launched a flurry of stories on the potential impact of Jackson's extremism on Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican running for governor. Cuccinelli has tried to distance himself from Jackson, but he has a problem: his own past as a social conservative activist is not that different from Jackson's.
In 2005, for example, Cuccinelli, then a state senator, sent a volunteer to investigate a mostly-female planning meeting for an event to be held at George Mason University by "Pro-Choice Patriots," a student group, and dubbed the "Sextravaganza." This gathering was designed to promote healthy sexual activity—dispensing information on date rape, AIDS, and contraception. But Cuccinelli condemned the plan to hold such an event at a public school, warning that "Sextravaganza" would promote "every type of sexual promiscuity you can imagine."
"This whole thing is really just designed to push sex and sexual libertine behavior as far, fast and furiously as possible," he told the Washington Post at the time, adding, "Do we need to establish some statewide standards here? It's pathetic we even need to have this discussion, but apparently we do."
Cuccinelli, like Jackson, was a fierce fighter for what they called traditional family values. In 2004, the Washington Timesreported that Cuccinelli was leading the fight against, in his words, "homosexuals and AIDS [education]." He was doing so by pushing a resolution asking Congress to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman:
"[The resolution would] enshrine in the Constitution effectively what is Virginia law today, and that is that marriage is between one man and one woman and that there are no analogous relationships under law," said Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, Fairfax County Republican and the bill’s sponsor.
Mr. Cuccinelli and others worry recent protests on the topic are part of an overall strategy by homosexuals, who he thinks plan to "dismantle sodomy laws" and "get education about homosexuals and AIDS in public schools." On Friday in a 79-18 vote, the House passed a bill that affirms the state’s ban on homosexual "marriage." It is expected to pass the Senate.
Cuccinelli may find it tough to separate himself from Jackson, given that the two were both fierce leaders in the culture war fights of the 1990s and 2000s.
Last October, appearing on a radio show hosted by Americans for Truth About Homosexuality founder Peter LaBarbera, the Rev. E.W. Jackson lobbed the kind of incendiary device that has become his forte. By sanctioning homosexuality (which he associated with AIDS), Jackson alleged liberals had "done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did."
Jackson, the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Virginia, has quickly established himself as a uniquely polarizing politician. But when it comes to AIDS, Jackson has backed up his words with action. As an activist in Boston in the late 1980s and early '90s, Jackson worked tirelessly to defeat programs designed to curb HIV transmissions and save lives. In his view, the only sure-fire way out of the AIDS crisis was abstinence; everything else simply encouraged the kind of immoral behavior he was against.
In 1987, as federal and local officials were first beginning to take preventative efforts, Jackson organized a group of 30 clergymen in opposition to a proposal from Boston's superintendent of schools to place four public health clinics in city schools. He claimed any program that even mentioned condoms was promoting promiscuity. That same year, he held a candlelight vigil outside a local ABC affiliate, WCVB, demanding that the station pull sex education public-service advertisements that endorsed the use of condoms. As the Associated Press reported at the time, "Jackson said the commercial showed a 10- to 12-year-old girl saying, 'I just learned to have safe sex.'" (The girl was actually either 16 or 17, according to the ad's creator.)
If Rep. Ed Markey wins the special election to become Massachusetts' junior US senator next month, it'll have at least one unintended consequence: A potentially ugly fight between two progressive Democrats for Markey's seat as the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. After Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio launched his candidacy by getting 20 prominent congressmen—including Georgia Rep. John Lewis and two former chairs of the committee—to sign onto a letter on his behalf, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is pushing back, winning the endorsement, on Thursday, of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The battle-lines are familiar, if not not entirely related to the actual responsibilities of the Natural Resources Committee: immigration reform and the Keystone XL pipeline. "DeFazio actually has a very anti-Democratic record on immigration," argues Grijalva spokesman Adam Sarvana. As proof, his office is sending around a fact-sheet highlighting a vote DeFazio cast in 2012 that would have authorized the Keystone XL pipeline as part of a larger transportation package—in contrast to DeFazio's otherwise outspokencriticism of the project. Sarvana is also touting support DeFazio received from the anti-reform outfit Numbers USA. (The group does not endorse candidates but has praised DeFazio's backing of universal electronic citizenship checks as a condition of employment.)
In a statement provided to Mother Jones, DeFazio, who is still considered the front-runner for the job, dismissed the Keystone vote as a procedural oddity: "I just helped lead the fight in two committees and on the floor against the Keystone Pipeline. In 2012, I voted for a transportation bill designed to bypass Tea Party obstructionist and get a much needed transportation bill to conference. As a conferee, I had assurances from Senator Barbara Boxer the Keystone provision would be stripped out of the final bill."
Markey's job isn't open just yet—the special election isn't until June and recent polls have shown a tight race. But the Democrat has never trailed, and his possible successors aren't waiting around for clarity.
That's an actual tweet from the Rev. E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia.
Jackson, a social-conservative activist with no record of electoral success, was nominated on the first ballot at the state GOP's convention on Saturday and almost immediately triggered an acute case of heartburn among the party's establishment due to his far-right views on gay rights and abortion. (Among other things, he favors the reinstatement of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and said the Democratic party's platform was in line with the Antichrist.) Jackson is, as Daily Kos Elections' David Nir puts it, "an oppo researcher's mescaline-fueled fantasy bender riding on pegasus-back."
And we're only starting to scratch the surface. A quick survey of Jackson's now dormant Twitter feed, @ewjsr (he now tweets at @Jackson4VA) shows that he is been remarkably consistent in his attacks on the gays, Muslims, and communists he believes are destroying the country from within.
"The 'homosexual religion' is the most virulent anti-Christian bigotry & hatred I've ever seen," he tweeted in October of 2009. "They have threatened me, but not vice versa."
That was around the same time he concluded that "[t]he homosexual movement is a cancer attacking vital organs of faith, family & military - repositories of traditional values." After President Obama addressed the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights group, Jackson groveled that the organization wanted to "homosexualize the country." After Family Research Council president Tony Perkins was disinvited from an event at Andrews Air Force Base, Jackson called the Obama administration "the Gestapo." When Rush Limbaugh invited Elton John to perform at his wedding, Jackson called it "utterly disappointing." He referred to Democrats as "Demoncrats."
Jackson, a Harvard Law School graduate and former student at Harvard Divinity School, recognized the contradiction in these statements, and openly struggled with it: "It will be interesting to see how Obama reconciles Islamicizing America with homosexualizing America," he tweeted. "Babylon v Sodom & Gomorrah." (The Baylonians weren't Muslim, but that's hardly the point.) Jackson considered it "tragic" that American foreign policy was, in his view, now "pro-Islam."
He was also bothered by the presence of practicing Muslims in the administration:
Jackson's fear of Muslims was such that after an Air France flight crashed into the Atlantic Ocean and a gunman opened fire at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, in 2009, he immediately alleged—citing absolutely nothing—that both events had been acts of Islamic terrorism. (The Holocaust Museum gunman was a white supremacist, and the Air France crash was ruled an accident). Responding to a report that Obama was hoping to use his space agency as a way of reaching out to to the Muslim world, he was indignant: "Obama's new mission for Nasa, not to explore space, but expand Islam! Huh?"
Given the last few days, this last tweet seems somewhat fitting. It's from 2010, and it's a stirring defense of another conservative activist whose unlikely nomination cost Republicans a once winnable race:
Rev. E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for Lt. Gov. of Virginia.
After dropping the last two presidential elections and the last three US Senate races, Virginia Republicans had good reason for optimism heading into this fall's elections: Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chair who bragged about nearly missing his child's birth so he could party with a gossip columnist, is at the top of the Democratic ticket. Things should be looking up for the Virginia GOP. Instead, the party’s activists have resisted calls for moderation and swerved hard to the right quicker than you can say transvaginal ultrasound.
Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican party's nominee for governor, once cited Martin Luther King Jr. as justification for his argument that sexual relations between two people of the same gender should be illegal. E.W. Jackson, the party's nominee for lieutenant governor, believes that gays are "degenerate" and "spiritually darkened" and will eventually destroy America. Mark Obenshain, the party's nominee for attorney general, recently attempted to require women to contact the police within 24 hours of a miscarriage.
The immediate cause is obvious. Virginia Republicans don't select their executive ticket via primary. Instead, they chose their slate last Saturday at a one-day nominating convention packed with grassroots activists. Jackson, a Baptist preacher who finished in the low single digits in last year's US Senate primary, was able to win on the first ballot by virtue of well-received speech typified by lines like, "I am not an African American, I am an American!"
"Conventions are not representative of the party," says Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from Northern Virginia, referring to Jackson's nomination. "When you get a convention, this is what you get."