Monday, 4 October 2004

Deux mots

A couple of words for my friends at Redstate: bad timing.

Gays and lesbians should not be allowed to teach in public schools, Republican Jim DeMint said Sunday in a U.S. Senate debate.

The remark came late in the first debate between DeMint and Democrat Inez Tenenbaum — a testy and acrimonious hour that broke little new ground on their positions on most issues.

DeMint, a Greenville congressman, said the government should not endorse homosexuality and “folks teaching in school need to represent our values.”

The good news is, at least someone’s patriotism was questioned in the debate. (Couldn’t have a good debate without some patriotism-questioning.)

Tenenbaum, the state education superintendent, called DeMint’s position “un-American.”

DeMint said after the debate that he would not require teachers to admit to being gay, but if they were “openly gay, I do not think that they should be teaching at public schools.”

Tenenbaum later told reporters that “the private life of our teachers should stay private. I was shocked to hear him say that.”

And we have a nominee for “bad paraphrase of the day”:

College of Charleston political scientist Bill Moore said DeMint’s position would be unconstitutional…. [I didn’t truncate the quote; the ellipses are in the original. Go figure.]

No, DeMint’s position isn’t unconstitutional. A law that implemented DeMint’s position might be—presumably, Lawrence v. Texas and Roemer v. Evans would be controlling precedent, but I don’t think the Supreme Court has ruled that employment discrimination against homosexuals is unconstitutional.

The most amazing thing about this whole situation: Congress has virtually nothing to do with the hiring practices of local school districts (which are solely state and local responsibilities, even under cooperative federalism), so why on earth was this even being debated in the first place? Sheesh.

Oh, and for the donors who contributed to DeMint’s campaign via the Redstate effort, I have three more words: ask for refunds.

1 comment:

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My guess is that this was debated for two reasons:

-even candidates for federal offices need to demonstrate an understanding of local standings

-given the large initial reach into local school districts through Don’t Ask, Don’t tell, as well as the effort on both federal and state levels to clamp down on public displays by homosexuals, I don’t think the lines between the levels are quite so stark anymore.

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