Virulent homophobia and misogyny have become totally normal in today's Republican party.
A Republican congressional committee canceled a hearing on the minimum wage after one of the GOP's key witnesses was exposed for writing ragingly homophobic and misogynistic columns — including a call to "tax and regulate homosexual acts."
San Diego State University economist Joseph Sabia was supposed to testify on behalf of Republicans at the hearing, entitled "Mandating a $15 Minimum Wage: Consequences for Workers and Small Businesses," to support the GOP's ongoing attacks on the idea of raising the minimum wage.
Sabia is the author of "Minimum Wages: A Poor Way to Reduce Poverty," a research paper that was also published by the conservative Cato Institute as part of its Tax & Budget Bulletin.
But Sabia also wrote bigoted columns for the Cornell Review, a publication of conservative Cornell University Students, which he also published on his personal website.
In his August 2002 column titled "Tax Gay Sex," Sabia argued that conservatives should offer legislation that would "tax and regulate homosexual acts."
"Homosexual activity has been responsible for devastating health outcomes — deadly HIV, hepatitis B, and various other sexually transmitted diseases," Sabia wrote. "In gay sex, we have an activity that is clearly leading to disastrous health consequences. What rational person would engage in this sort of activity? There is only one solution — let's tax it."
He argued that conservatives should "mount the assault on Big Gay (no, I am not talking about Rosie O'Donnell)," and proposed to "tax gay nightclubs, websites, personal ads, sexual paraphernalia."
Sabia promoted misogyny as well as homophobia. He even identified himself as a "bitter, cranky, rapidly-aging misogynist" in a March 2002 column, entitled "College Girls: Unpaid Whores," that attacked feminism and women's studies programs at universities.
"Feminist thought has taught young women that equality is achieved by acting like promiscuous sluts," Sabia wrote. "Today’s college girl looks to Ally McBeal, the trollops of Sex in the City, and the floozies on Friends to set their moral compasses."
He went on to argue that "women actually lose power by becoming tramps," and claimed that "the behavior of young heterosexuals has begun to resemble that of gay men because young women are imitating men in their sexual promiscuity."
Sabia later responded to criticism of his misogynistic column by doubling down on his bigotry. He accused detractors of "reacting like hysterical women (I know, that’s redundant)."
The revelations about Sabia, and the consequent cancellation of the hearing, are a sad statement on the priorities and ideology of the outgoing Republican majority.
Misogyny and homophobia are not limited to Trump at the head of the party. These hateful attitudes permeate much of what the Republican Party does, including "economic" issues. Keeping down the minimum wage also specifically hurts marginalized groups like women and LGBTQ people.
The hearing was scheduled by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC). The subcommittee that was slated to host Sabia, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, is chaired by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL).
Both Foxx and Byrne have ratings of 0 out of a possible 100 from the Human Rights Campaign for their votes attacking LGBTQ Americans in the current Congress.
That ideological background might help explain how and why Sabia was chosen to testify before the committee.
Reps. Foxx and Byrne tried to use their committee to launch one last assault on working families in America — but they were foiled when their hatred became too obvious.
Both members easily won re-election this November. But thanks to the 40 seats lost by Republicans overall, the House will no longer be led by the kind of party that would send bigoted "experts" to attack the minimum wage.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.