This one’s not about money unless you or a friend or relative happens to need a job to earn some. In that case, it’s about money.

Apparently, George W. Bush recently told a Christian group that, if elected, he would not knowingly hire someone who was openly gay . . . but that, being a compassionate conservative, he wouldn’t fire someone later discovered to be gay. Those mistakenly hired would be grandfathered in.

This is almost breathtakingly bad policy, when you think about it. If gay folks are unfit for responsible posts, why should they be tolerated once discovered? And if they ARE fit for responsible posts, why discriminate against them? Just to narrow the nation’s talent pool?

Could this have been Lincoln’s policy? That Negroes would not be hired . . . but that if some particularly light-skinned Negroes made it through unnoticed, and were later discovered to have some Negro blood, they would be allowed to stay?

Lincoln was a Republican — what would he have made of this policy?

And what exactly would Bush have young gay kids think? That they are unwelcome, second-class citizens unqualified for decent jobs? That they should kill themselves? That they should just work really hard at faking heterosexuality, lying as necessary, committed to lonely, loveless lives? That they should all become priests or dancers?

The power of the presidency is largely the power to lead by example. So is it Bush’s view that IBM and Microsoft and Disney and J.P. Morgan and Chevron and American Airlines and General Mills — and 250 other Fortune 500 companies — are behind the times for explicitly including gays and lesbians in their nondiscrimination policies? That the forward-looking, compassionate, new-vision thing to do is to post notices in all their ads, just above the “Equal Opportunity Employer” logos, saying: “Gays and lesbians need not apply?”

If gay graduates are not fit for government service, are they fit for government-subsidized college educations in the first place?

George W. told USA Today on August 19 that the New Jersey Supreme Court was wrong — that the Boy Scouts should be allowed to exclude gay kids, just as, we now learn, George W. would exclude gay people from his administration. And just as he stood by as the Texas Republican Party barred the gay Republicans from its convention.

How about this — a U.S. Government pamphlet describing just where gay people may and may not apply for work? And in places that do have to employ them (lest millions just go on the dole, which the Republicans surely wouldn’t like), how about separate water fountains?

It would be funny if it were not so profoundly unAmerican.


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