National Commentary

Sanford, Ensign & `Defense of Marriage’

bentonmugThe utter hypocrisy of right-wing Republicans who’ve done everything in their power to disenfranchise and deny marital and other rights to lesbians and gays jumped out of the headlines again yesterday when South Carolina’s Republican Gov. Mark Sanford was caught having an extra-marital affair, and was forced to confess.

Sanford’s revelations followed by exactly a week a near-identical confession from another right wing Republican, U.S. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada.

Not only have both of these pathetic hypocrites engaged in willful lying and deceit towards their own spouses, families and constituents, but they have taken leading roles in standing up for the so-called “defense of marriage” by assailing those who would extend equal rights to lesbians and gays.

“Defense of marriage” my foot! An even more distasteful component of all this is the religious hypocrisy they’ve both touted, being insiders in the circle of phony right-wing Christians who’ve influenced national policy for decades under the secretive veil of what is known as “The Family.”

As author Jeff Sherlet documented in his book, “The Family,” this clandestine network of anti-labor, right-wing religious phonies set about establishing networks of business leaders and right-wing politicos in the 1930s, as a battering ram against gains by organized labor during the Depression, and against President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” efforts to mitigate its worst impacts.

“The Family” has worked for decades to deepen its tentacles of control over official Washington, and made a major advance when President Eisenhower was persuaded to attend its first-ever post-inaugural “Presidential Prayer Breakfast.”

Eisenhower was reluctant to get involved at first, concerned for the separation of church and state, but acquiesced to the desires of pro-“Family” leaders in his administration. Stunts such as disingenuously pushing for adding “under God” to the national Pledge of Allegiance, were followed by subsequent campaigns on prayer in schools, abortion and other hot-button religious right issues that served to divide the nation on class warfare grounds, camouflaged as religious grounds, to torpedo progressive programs such as President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

Sanford and Ensign were both active participants in the “C Street Group,” a group home operation run out of a house at 133 C Street S.E., on the south side of the Capital, which is a satellite of the Arlington-based “The Family.” So reports the “Talking Points Memo” blog this week.

There, Sanford and Ensign reportedly took part in pietistic prayer groups and other activities aimed at bonding with “The Family” and its nefarious aims. Among other things, Sharlet has documented links between “The Family” and efforts to weaken and divide mainstream religious denominations, such as the effort to split the Episcopal Church, U.S.A.

Members of “The Family” are reportedly crawling all over prominent Episcopal Churches which have voted to break away from the Episcopal Church, using the 2003 elevation of an openly-gay priest, the Rev. Gene Robinson, to standing as a bishop in the denomination, as the pretext. These include the historic Falls Church in Northern Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., where George Washington was an original vestryman.

That church became populated in the last decade by Bush administration officials and their admirers such as Fred Barnes, co-editor of the neo-conservative flagship magazine, the Weekly Standard.

The blot that the Sanford and Ensign revelations have put on this entire operation should not be lost on those fighting for equal marriage rights against them and other bigots and hypocrites like them. The moral charge, “He who is without sin throw the first stone,” was certainly never taken to heart by them.

The damage both have brought upon their families and their constituents by their lies and deceit is far, far greater than what affirming the rights of two persons of the same sex who wish to bond in a formal loving relationship could possibly inflict.