State senator targets `militant homosexuals' in fund-raising letter

Republican Mooney criticized by gays, Senate president

August 12, 1999|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

State Sen. Alex X. Mooney says "militant homosexuals" are out to get him, and he's asking conservative Republicans to pony up "at least $500" each to help him defend his Frederick County seat.

In a strongly worded fund-raising letter, the 28-year-old freshman GOP senator asserts that he led the successful charge this year against Gov. Parris N. Glendening's bill that sought to grant civil rights protections to gays and lesbians.

Term used repeatedly

The result, Mooney said, is that "the militant homosexual lobby is targeting me for defeat." The term "militant homosexuals" was used six times in the four-page letter.

The letter has drawn criticism from gay and lesbian advocates, and from the Senate president, for its tone and its use of the state seal on the opening page. The Senate's Republican leader said he would have urged Mooney to soften the language.

Mooney said the tone was "relatively normal" for fund-raising.

"In fund-raising letters, you've got to let them know you're fighting," he said.

In the letter, Mooney tells prospective donors he was "shocked" when he learned that a witness before his committee was a man dressed as a woman.

"The militant homosexual community calls this `cross-dressing' or `dressing in drag,' " Mooney writes. "Well, I don't think it should be considered normal business attire for a man to show up for work dressed like a woman."

He also states that the Glendening bill would have forced employers to accept cross-dressing in the workplace.

Assertion disputed

Cathy Brennan, a board member of the civil rights organization Free State Justice, said Mooney's assertion is false.

"Senator Mooney is a one-issue politician who doesn't represent the views of his constituents in Frederick County," Brennan said. "He's an embarrassment to the county and the state. He's exploiting the gay and lesbian community as a way of raising money to further his own political ambitions."

Mooney's letter asks conservative Republicans to send gifts of $1,000, $750 or $500 to his campaign.

It was sent out on stationery that resembles a Senate letterhead but carries a disclaimer that it was not printed at government expense.

Rules change sought

Mooney said he carefully followed rules laid down by the legislature's ethics committee regarding the use of the General Assembly letterhead.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the use of official-looking stationery for such a "militant" letter "cannot be tolerated." He said he and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. will ask the ethics panel to revise its rules to prohibit such usage.

Miller, a Prince George's Democrat, scoffed at Mooney's claim in the letter that he is becoming Glendening's "most effective adversary" in the Senate.

"By mailing literature such as this, he becomes one of the least effective members of the Senate because it severs all ties with the executive branch," Miller said.

Sen. Martin G. Madden, the Senate Republican leader, said Mooney did not ask his opinion before sending the letter. "I would have encouraged him to write a less inflammatory letter," the Howard County legislator said.

Mooney said the reaction from recipients has been "so far, so good." He would not say how many letters were sent or whether he had received any of the donations he solicited.

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