The religious right has used the Mark Foley scandal as a way to remind America of all the evil wrought by homosexuals on Capitol Hill: When they're not getting their rocks off with dirty instant messages to teenage boys, they're conspiring to protect a sexual predator as part of their well-established but super-double-secret gay cabal.
It turns out, however, that this is really a three-branch problem.
As the Washington Post reports this morning, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback has put a hold on George W. Bush's nomination of Janet Neff to serve as a district court judge in Michigan. The reason? Conservative activists spotted her name in a 4-year-old New York Times "Weddings/Celebrations" announcement that described a "commitment ceremony" for two gay women. Brownback says it's important to know whether Neff engaged in an illegal act of marrying and that he's not letting her through the Senate until he knows for sure.
As the Post says, it's not clear whether Neff even presided over the ceremony and that there shouldn't be anything wrong with it if she did. "A commitment ceremony is not a marriage; it has no legal force whatsoever but is a private expression of the love and devotion of two people," the Post says in an editorial. "The idea that such a ceremony could be 'illegal' is deeply offensive; Americans are entitled to gather, speak, celebrate and worship as they see fit."
Well, most of them, anyway. While Brownback has issues with the prospects of tolerance for homosexuality in the judiciary, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins is raising questions about the way homosexuals seem to be infiltrating the executive branch, too. In his latest daily message to supporters, Perkins complains that during the swearing-in ceremony for new global AIDS coordinator Mark Dybul, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recognized Dybul's "mother-in-law" as among the family members in attendance. The problem? The "mother-in-law" in question would be the mother of the Dybul's "homosexual partner."
"The question arises, what guidelines do the State Department and White House follow?" Perkins asks. "Neither federal law (the Defense of Marriage Act) nor District of Columbia law recognizes a marriage between Dr. Dybul and his partner, and 'mother in law' is therefore both linguistically (and possibly legally) improper and morally provocative. Why did Secretary Rice deploy the term in the presence of the First Lady? We've written to ask her, and we'll let you know what we hear."
We'll be looking forward to that -- just like we're looking forward to an explanation for why Rice referred to Bush as "my husband" a couple of years ago. You can never be too careful, you know.