Many supporters of Sen. Jim DeMint have demanded that Charleston area television stations pull a recent ad that features his past comments that gay and lesbian teachers should not be allowed in the classroom in public schools. Highlighting DeMint’s anti-gay convictions, the ad equates DeMint’s anti-gay statement with the same logic that was previously used to fuel anti-Semitism. Specifically, the ad begins with a hypothetical question: “What if you saw this headline? ‘Senator Jim DeMint: Jews Should Not Teach Public School'” The ad announcer than replaces the word “Jews” with “Gay” in the headline, reflecting DeMint’s actual statement.
According to the Alliance for Full Acceptance, the gay rights advocacy group that funded the ad campaign, local television stations have ignored the calls to remove the ad and have continued to air the 30-second piece. Although DeMint supporters have argued that the ad falsely presents the Senator as anti-Semitic, DeMint’s original comments were widely panned as highly discriminatory and controversial. The Senator made the remarks in 2004 after he was asked about a state GOP platform item which said that homosexuals should not teach in schools — DeMint replied, “I don’t think they should. We need the folks that are teaching in schools to represent our values.”
Warren Redman-Gress, the directer of the Alliance for Full Acceptance, indicated that he was pleased with the way that Charleston stations have handled the matter — “We are really thankful the TV stations see the value in what we’re doing, and, in that first salvo, have stood by us.”
The ad is part of a campaign that began last month to raise public awareness of how commonly discriminatory attitudes towards the LGBT community are often more accepted and normalized than similar feelings towards other racial or social groups. Senator DeMint, in particular, has had a history of controversial and anti-gay comments. From falsely claiming that the chief military officials did not want DADT to be repealed to opposing hate crimes legislation to delaying confirmation of gay judicial nominees, DeMint is no stranger to opposing equality.
By worrying whether he comes off as anti-Semitic without concern that he’s anti-gay, DeMint’s supporters prove the very point the ad is trying to make. Watch it: