House GOP leaders are reluctant to discuss an amendment proposed by Rep. Joel Hefley, which seeks to overturn President Clinton’s executive order barring federal agencies from discriminating against gays and lesbians.
Even conservative Republicans are afraid of alienating voters in the fall election by adhering to an anti-gay and lesbian platform. “I’m worried we’re not going to be able to talk about this issue without sounding judgmental and condemning,” said Rep. Tom Coburn, who said he considered homosexuality to be a form of moral infirmity but says he has compassion for gays.
In contrast, the Democrats have been eager to speak up on this issue, mobilizing opposition to proposed right-wing amendments. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is gay, said, “We’re not as defenseless politically as we used to be. I don’t think Trent Lott or Dick Armey thought the response [to their proposing anti-gay legislation] was fun.”