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Austin Cline

Jesse Helms' Gay Granddaughter Uses Him for Election Advantage

By October 30, 2004

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Jesse Helms was one of the nastiest and most vocal anti-gay bigots in the Senate. His granddaughter is campaigning to become a district judge in North Carolina. Helms doesn't know she is gay and state Republican leaders who engage in regular gay-baiting in their own campaign literature fail to mention Jennifer Knox's long-time lesbian partner. Hypocrites? You bet.

According to Blue Lemur:

When Knox announced her Wake County candidacy Apr. 30, she said Helms was the primary factor in driving her to run for elective office. “He’s dedicated 30-plus years of his life to the American people and to the people of North Carolina and that has really made an impact on me,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing in making me want to go into elected office.”
The state’s Republican Party platform is unequivocal about homosexuality. “We believe homosexuality is not normal and should not be established as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle either in public education or in public policy,” the platform states. “We do not believe public schools should be used to teach children that homosexuality is normal… We commend private organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, which defend moral decency and freedom.”

Just so that no one gets any mistaken notions about Helms' position on homosexuality, some quotes are included:

Helms wrote [to a mother who lost her son to AIDS]: “As for homosexuality, The Bible judges it, I do not,” Helms replied. “There is no justification for AIDS funding far exceeding that for other killer diseases such as cancer, heart trouble, etc. As for [your son] Mark, I wish he had not played Russian roulette in his sexual activity,” he added. “There is no escaping the reality of what happened.”
The letter became the inspiration for a documentary called “Dear Jesse.” The film, which was reviewed in the New York Times and the Washington Post, enraged the senator, who again lashed out against gays. “Those people are intellectually dishonest in just about everything they do or say. They start by pretending that it is just another form of love,” Helms said. “It’s sickening. The New York Times and The Washington Post are both infested with homosexuals themselves.”

One of the problems with the Republican Party and religious conservatives is their desire to keep homosexuality in the closet. If they acknowledged the existence of gays, even in their ranks and in their families, it would do a lot to help gays become more accepted in society. That is contrary to the goals of the religious conservatives, as Helms makes so clear in the above quotes. That is also why these stories are so important. If Republicans aren't able to acknowledge the truth, others will have to do the job of bringing the truth out.

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