WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2006— Conservative activists are beginning to discuss the Mark Foley scandal as indicative of a GOP that has become too tolerant of gays in their midst.
Regardless of the party's efforts against gay marriage, the argument goes, the fact that Republican officials accept gay congressmen, such as Foley, and staffers will mean the party will have problems.
"As a society, we've made diversity and tolerance the guidepost of public life," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council told ABC News. "Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that we have congressmen chasing after 16-year-old boys."
But interestingly, it isn't only social conservatives discussing a possible tie between sexual orientation and Foley's predatory behavior with pages.
Richard Isay, a Weisll Cornell Medical College professor of psychiatry and author who has studied gay men and women, says his psychiatric studies show that closeted gays who work for organizations that are inhospitable to them may be more prone to "doing things that are going to get themselves into trouble."
"If the atmosphere of the Republican Party is not hospitable to gay people … you're going to have more problems," Isay said.
In his academic opinion, Isay believes that Foley's pathology includes "much more than just this kind of behavior — hitting on pages," but likely includes other kind of secretive behavior.
Gay conservative writer Andrew Sullivan wrote on his blog this week that the Foley scandal wasn't about pedophilia or homosexuality.
"[I]t's fundamentally about the closet," he wrote. "The closet is so psychologically destructive it often produces pathological behavior. When you compartmentalize your life, you sometimes act out in one compartment in ways that you would never condone in another one. Think Clinton-Lewinsky, in a heterosexual context. But closeted gay men are particularly vulnerable to this kind of thing. Your psyche is so split by decades of lies and deceptions and euphemisms that integrity and mental health suffer. No one should excuse Foley's creepy interactions; they are inexcusable, as is the alleged cover-up. … But there's a reason gay men in homophobic institutions behave in self-destructive ways."