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Ann Coulter’s Done It Again

by Peter Cassels
Contributor
Saturday Mar 3, 2007
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Updated Mar. 4

Conservative political pundit Ann Coulter used a homophobic word to describe Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards at a political conference March 2. It’s not the first time Coulter has used a gay slur publicly.

"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ’faggot,’ so [I’m at] kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards," Coulter said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the American Conservative Union.

Last July, she used "fag" to describe Al Gore on MSNBC’s Hardball. "He may not be gay, but Al Gore, total fag," she told host Chris Matthews. "No, I’m just kidding." Rather than confront Coulter’s use of the slur, Matthews continued to ask her whether she thought Clinton and Gore were gay.

CPAC was attended by 2008 Republican presidential candidates: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, and former California congressman Duncan Hunter. Vice President Dick Cheney also was there.

Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean and two gay-rights organizations strongly condemned Coulter’s CPAC remark and asked Republicans to do so as well.

In response, Giuliani, Romney and Sen. John McCain, a presidential candidate who did not attend the conference, sharply criticized Coulter for her remarks.

"There is no place in political discourse for this kind of hate-filled and bigoted comments," Dean said in a statement. "While Democrats and Republicans may disagree on the issues, we should all be able to agree that this kind of vile rhetoric is out of bounds. The American people want a serious, thoughtful debate of the issues. Republicans--including the Republican presidential candidates who shared the podium with Ann Coulter today--should denounce her hateful remarks."

In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese agreed: "To interject this word into American political discourse is a vile and disgusting way to sink the debate to a new, all-time low. Make no doubt about it, these remarks go directly against what our Founding Fathers intended and have no place on the schoolyard, much less our country’s political arena.

"It is clear that some in the Republican Party plan to run in 2008 the same way they did in 2004, by using discrimination to divide the country and rally their base. But, 2008 is not 2004, and this time the politics of fear and smear will not work. The American people are tired of those who would rather divide than unite."

Solmonese demanded that the candidates who attended and Cheney "stand up and publicly condemn this type of gutter-style politics. If not, then their silence will be deafening to the vast majority of Americans who believe this type of language belongs no where near the discussions about the future of our country."

Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, called Coulter’s words unacceptable in a statement March 3.

Giuliano also expressed serious concern that some outlets covering the event--including The Associated Press and Reuters--had not yet addressed Coulter’s use of the slur or reported on the strong denunciations of her bigotry by several of the presidential campaigns, as well as Dean, Solmonese and others.

"Our nation’s media have done an admirable job this year holding celebrities accountable for their use of anti-gay slurs," Giuliano said. "But they have a heightened responsibility to do so when the person using the slur is a leading face and voice of an anti-gay industry that continues to harm, exploit and dehumanize gay and lesbian people and our families for political gain."

According to the March 4 New York Times, Edwards aides criticized Coulter and urging supporters to donate to his campaign. "John was singled out for a personal attack because the Republican establishment knows he poses the greatest threat to their power," said campaign manager David Bonior in an e-mail message. "Since they have nothing real to use against him, Coulter’s resorting to the classic right-wing strategy of riling up hate to smear a progressive champion."

The Times reported that Coulter, asked for a reaction to the Republican criticism, said in an e-mail message: "C’mon, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean."

Peter Cassels is a recipient of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s Excellence in Journalism award. His e-mail address is pcassels@edgepublications.com.

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