Fred Karger, a former dirty-tricks Republican operative turned gay rights activist, has declared his candidacy for President. He may not have a shot, but it looks like he's going to have a lot of fun pissing off Republicans who'd just as soon not talk about the Homosexuals these days.
(He's not the first-ever gay presidential candidate — that honor belongs to Joan Jett Blakk, who ran in '92 and '96 on the Queer Nation ticket.)
Here's how he described himself to Feministing not long ago:
I'm a very strong feminist. My mother was so I better be. I'm a founding member of Republican Majority for Choice. I've been a big supporter of Planned Parenthood, of the Equal Rights Amendment which was around when I was just starting in politics, and a big supporter of Hilary Clinton the first time around.
He says he's a fiscal conservative and more of a libertarian. He was instrumental in organizing against Proposition 8 and exposing the anti-gay marriage campaign's stealth Mormon backing. In a statement on his website announcing his candidacy, Karger wrote,
While I intend to talk about many important issues, I dedicate today to the 6 teenagers who took their lives this past fall because they were bullied for who they were. They could not go on living for even one more day.
There is no place for hatred and bigotry in this country. We must all learn to respect each other and our differences.
Before you donate, keep in mind that he was also one of the key figures behind the race-baiting "Willie Horton" ads against Dukakis, as a protegee of Lee Atwater. He told The Guardian he has no regrets: "'No, not in the least,' he said with a smile." And according to Mother Jones, "Another of Karger's specialties at Dolphin was setting up Astroturf groups on behalf of corporations like Philip Morris—a phony restaurant trade group, for example, that lobbied against indoor smoking bans."
Here is his critique of President Obama: "The guy's been a disappointment. He's not a happy guy, he needs Zoloft. He's just not optimistic," he told CBS News.
Still. The point of Karger is to keep putting gay rights issues on the table, at a time when they're more favored among the average American than ever, and just after people were forced to take the Log Cabin Republicans seriously with their Don't Ask Don't Tell lawsuits. It's convenient that he's skilled in message-making: One of his former opponents on the tobacco regulation issue granted that "he's very well positioned to out these guys [Republican bigots] because he knows how they work it."
So it was that Karger filed a complaint against the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition for excluding him from his presidential forum. And so it is that he's pushing to be included in debates, despite the fact that the man overseeing them, James Bopp, also represents "many anti-gay marriage organizations that have been battling in court to protect their donors and supporters from state disclosure laws....Bopp has actually subpoenaed Karger in one of those cases in California, and has been defending the group Protect Marriage from a state ethics complaint Karger filed against the group in Maine," per Mother Jones.
This is going to be fun.
Fred Karger [Official Site]
Meet The Gay Republican Running For President In 2012 [Feministing]
Openly Gay Republican Fred Karger Announces 2012 Presidential Run [CBS News]
Gay Rights Champion Aims To Become Republican Presidential Candidate [Guardian]
It's Official: There's A Gay Republican Running For President [Mother Jones]
Of Mormons And Gay Marriage [Mother Jones]
Fred Karger, Gay Republican For President [Salon]