Some Conservatives are now saying that Trent Lott's comments praising Senator Strom Thurmond -- which set off a public reaction that forced Lott to step down -- are similar to Kevin Jennings' praise of Harry Hay, and that Jennings should now also be forced to step down.
Harry Hay was the founder of the Mattachine Society in 1948 -- which became the first major gay civil rights organization in America and, years later, Hay was a leader of the organization NAMBLA -- a gay organization which is now trying to legalize under-age sex.
However, Trent Lott did not simply praise Strom Thurmond and say he was a good man. Had he done that, there would have been no firestorm. Trent Lott said that this country would have been better off had we listened to Strom Thurmond and elected him president in 1948. Thurmond was running on the Dixiecrat Party in 1948 as a strict segregationist as a reaction against President Harry Truman's attempts to get civil rights legislation passed.
In making his statement, Lott was specifically endorsing the segregationist platform on which Thurmond ran in 1948. Lott was saying pretty directly that this country would have been better off if we had continued to have racial segregation by electing Turmond president in 1948. That's why Lott was forced to step down.
It would have been the same as if Jennings had endorsed Hay's support of NAMBLA. However, Jennings never said a word about NAMBLA in his comments about Hay. In fact, Jennings has never at any time expressed any support for NAMBLA or what it stands for. In the gay community, NAMBLA is an extremely unpopular organization, with an infinitesimal following -- just as any organization which promotes under-age sex in the straight community would be a tiny fringe group, to say the least.
Strom Thurmond continued to serve in the Senate for many years after 1948, long after legalized segregation was dead and buried. If Trent Lott had contented himself with a testimonial about Thurmond's character, there would have been no problem. Instead, Lott's comments sounded like he was specifically endorsing segregation, as espoused by Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrat Party platform in 1948.
However, Jennings has never said anything remotely expressing support for NAMBLA or what it stands for.
Isn't it ironic, also, that 1948 was the year in which Strom Thurmond was running for president on the Dixiecrat Party in a failed effort to perpetuate racial segregation in America -- and in that same year Harry Hay was founding the Mattachine Society, the first major gay civil rights organization in America? To many Conservatives, that apparently makes Hay a bum and Thurmond a hero.