Friday, April 26, 2013

This Tragedy Among GOP Closet Cases Is No Longer Inevitable: Jon Hinson-- The Aaron Schock Of His Day


Mississippi's 4th congressional district includes the state's entire Gulf Coast and a chunk inland to just beyond Hattiesburg and Laurel. It's 75% white and one of the reddest districts in the country with a PVI of R+21. Obama only managed to win 31% of the vote here, easily his worst showing in the state. The district was created in 1874 and has been a Democratic bastion for most of its existence, although in 1855, they elected William Augustus Lake, a proud member of the Know Nothing Party, for one term. In 1973 they elected Republican Thad Cochran, who resigned in 1978 to become a U.S. Senator after James Eastland's retirement. He was the first Republican elected statewide in over a century and is still in the Senate. One of Cochran's staffers, Jon Hinson, won the House seat next. He served from January 3, 1979 until he resigned on July 7, 1981, not long after being reelected.

Congressman Hinson, who died of AIDS complications in 1995, has a very tragic story, one the many Republican closet cases in Congress today, should think long and hard about. Tuesday night we talked a little about how another former GOP closet case, Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), who once voted for DOMA, is now getting ready to marry his beau and is lobbying his former DC colleagues on behalf of marriage equality and immigration reform. Kolbe's transition was a lot more gentle and a lot more positive than the dozens of Republican closet cases who have been outed over the years. After coming out, his Arizona constituents reelected him 3 times-- including against a homophobic sociopath who ran against him in a primary-- before he retired. Hinson didn't have it as easy-- and for good reason.

Hinson wasn't all that further to the right than Kolbe. Both were fairly mainstream conservatives. Ironically, Democrats who have represented MS-04, particularly Blue Dog Gene Taylor, have been just as far right as Hinson on many key issues. Today the district is represented by a genuine crackpot and extremist, Steven Palazzo, who defeated Taylor in the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse of 2010.

Hinson's coming out was about as traumatic as it can be-- even worse than what recent Republicans in Congress, like Mark Foley (R-FL), Larry Craig (R-ID) and Ed Schrock (R-VA), have experienced. Like most Republican closet cases-- think Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Larry Craig (R-ID), Jim McCrery (R-LA), Charlie Crist (R/D-FL), Ed Schrock (R-VA), Robert Bauman (R-MD), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Miss McConnell (R-KY)-- Hinson took a wife as a beard. First Hinson dodged some really big bullets. In 1977 he had been having anonymous oral sex with multiple partners at the Cinema Follies, a gay porn theater that was then a notorious hunting ground for desperate Capitol Hill closet cases, when a fire broke out. He was found under a pile of bodies, one of only 4 people to survive. This was a year before he ran for Congress and when he was working for Cochran, who many people have always said wasn't just a college cheerleader but was also exceedingly light in the loafers. He won the seat and managed to stay out of trouble for most of his first term. During his reelection campaign, however, the shit hit the fan.

First he was forced into admitting that in 1976, again, while working for Cochran, he had been arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover cop in Arlington Cemetery. Of course he said he wasn't gay, just alcoholic, which is what every Republican who's been caught with a dick in his mouth has said. Do they think penises look like beer cans? He only managed to win reelection because there was a strong Independent in the race and his 38.97% was enough to send him back to DC.

He was only back in DC for a few weeks when he was caught blowing an African-American librarian in a toilet in the Longworth House Office Building.
After his arrest, Mr. Hinson was charged with sodomy, a felony carrying a maximum fine of $10,000 and sentence of 10 years in prison. But the United States Attorney's office reduced the charge to a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum one-year penalty and a fine of $1,000.

In explaining the reduction in the charge, Percy H. Russell, deputy director of Superior Court operations for the United States Attorney's office, said it was office policy that homosexual acts between consenting adults be prosecuted as misdemeanors.

Mr. Hinson, 38 years old, who lives with his wife, Cynthia, in suburban Alexandria, Va., has not been available for comment since his arrest.

Mr. Hinson checked into a hospital in the Washington area shortly after his court appearance, according to his office. Marshall Hanbury, Mr. Hinson's administrative assistant, said that the Congressman ''has voluntarily admitted himself to a hospital. in order to have the benefit of professional care, counseling and treatment.'' He did not divulge the name of the hospital.
Mississippi voters were willing to overlook the alcoholism and even the fact that their congressman enjoyed blowing men-- how many Republicans don't?-- but an African-American? That was a bridge too far. Trent Lott (R-MS) went batshitinsane and began a crusade demanding that Hinson resign.

So from February 5, when he was caught with the meat in his mouth, as the Dead Boys used to put it, until April, he hoped to weather the storm-- and ignore Lott's threats. On April 13th he called it quits, saying it was "the most painful and difficult decision of my life." Like most Republican closet cases who get forced out of the closet, he eventually admitted he was gay and then became a gay activist. He never set foot in Mississippi again. He died on July 21, 1995, age 53.

Remember the Republican senator from Ohio with the gay son, Rob Portman? Apparently he's ok with his son getting married but doesn't want to help protect him from a bigoted employer who might fire him for being gay.

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