’Joe the Plumber’ Doesn’t Want Gays Near His Kids

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday May 5, 2009

With the Republican party floundering to find its post-Bush era identity, hints of a deepening schism between the party's extremist and centrist elements continue to surface.

The most recent indication of the ideological split within the party's ranks is the response of the GOP's extreme right wing to the more centrist attempt to "re-brand" the party through a planned series of meetings, on what has been dubbed a "listening tour."

The idea is to check in with the American electorate--and learn just what it is the American mainstream wants and needs from its political leadership, in order to hone a winning message in the 2012 race for the White House and, more immediately, next year's mid-term elections.

But the rightward fringe of the GOP rejects the idea of reaching out to common Americans for inspiration and guidance; indeed, the same elements that seek to bar gay and lesbian families from marriage rights by insisting that "the people" have a right to decide on the rights of their fellow citizens reject the notion that the American public has anything worth hearing when it comes to GOP leadership.

Right-wing leader Rush Limbaugh, who recently asserted what many saw as his de facto leadership of the party by excoriating Republican National Party chairman Michael Steele--even getting a public apology from Steele after attacking him on his radio program for remarks Steele made about "ugly" and "incendiary" remarks made by Limbaugh--launched a similar attack on the "re-branding" effort on his show, reported The Huffington Post on May 5.

The centrist GOP outreach effort, called the National Council for a New America, comprises a number of celebrated GOP leaders, including presidential hopefuls from last year's election John McCain and Mitt Romney, along with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, brother of George W., and Virginia congressman Eric Cantor, who serves as the Republican Whip, the Huffington Post reported.

The National Council had its inaugural "Listening Tour" confab in a pizza shop in Virginia, launching Limbaugh into excoriation mode the next day.

On air, Limbaugh dismissed the idea that everyday Americans had any business grasping the reigns of the party's leadership, saying that "a teaching tour" was what the GOP needed, rather than a "listening tour."

Said Limbaugh, "I'm weary of the same people who drove us to this point telling us what we have to do now," the Huffington Post reported.

The radio host went on to brush off the idea of common Americans helping guide the Republican party's leadership, saying of centrist GOP leaders, "We did it their way in 2008. We did it with the candidate and approach that they thought would work: pandering."

The right-wing radio host went on to elaborate on what he meant by the suggestion that the GOP was "pandering" to the mainstream.

"'We got to listen to the American people,'" Limbaugh mocked the centrist message.

"I maintain that when a politician says we have to listen to the American people and learn, we are pandering. We're not leading," Limbaugh declared.

The right-wing radio personality's top-down idea of governance garnered press together with comments from "Joe the Plumber," a GOP-minted celebrity who shot to fame during last year's election race.

Joe the Plumber--whose real name is Sam Wurzelbacher--was interviewed by Christianity Today, reported Huffington Post in a May 4 article, as well as The Colorado Independent in an article published that same day.

Offering a mixture of individualist rhetoric and anti-gay commentary, Wurzelbacher, whose name appears along with that of Thomas N. Tabback on a book titled, "Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream," indicated disdain for the idea of "re-branding" the GOP, saying, "You got the [Republican National Committee] talking about repackaging principles and values to make them hip and cool to the younger generation."

Wurzelbacher expressed skepticism, saying, "You can't repackage them. They are what they are."

Wurzelbacher defined his idea of "conservatism" as being centered around "the basic rights of individuals," but seemed to qualify those rights within the context of a theocratic theory of government, saying, "As far as the government goes, the Founding Fathers based the Constitution off of Christian values. It goes hand-in-hand."

As for the oft-reported alignment of Republican leaders and evangelical Christians, Wurzelbacher was unconvinced: "None of them stand up for anything," he said of leading GOP politicians.

"They use God as a punch line. They use God to invoke sympathy or invoke righteousness, but they don't stay the course," Wurzelbacher continued. "That's why I think that all needs to be taken out of the federal level and give it back to the states."

Added Wurzelbacher, "We've lost our American history. Every state has 'In God we trust,' or 'With God's help' in their constitution.

"God is recognized as, if you will, [in] America's religion."

Despite the severe curtailing of individual freedoms that would stem from the implementation of a system of law based in literal Biblical scripture, Wurzelbacher went on to say that he "felt connected" to the GOP "because individual freedom should not be legislated by the federal government."

Pundits have identified marriage equality as one dead horse that Republicans continue to flog despite a lack of interest in the topic among voters. Asked about the advent of marriage equality in two states, Vermont and Iowa, last month, Wurzelbacher opined that states should determine the issue for themselves, and indicated an opposition to a federal Constitutional amendment, adding, "I personally still think it's wrong."

Apparently defending general use of the pejorative word "queer," Wurzelbacher went on to say, "People don't understand the dictionary--it's called queer.

"Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that."

Wurzelbacher meandered from there to a comment on homosexuality and faith, saying, "You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to do--what man and woman are for."

Recognizing the New Testament mandate for Christians to offer unconditional love, Wurzelbacher went on to say, "Now, at the same time, we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins.

"I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children.

"But at the same time, they're people, and they're going to do their thing."

The press fixated on the "wouldn't have them anywhere near my children" comment, noting that the remark would be offensive to GLBT Americans.

Wurzelbacher also offered his opinion on whether the GOP could break away from its reputation as catering to the rich and neglecting the poor; said Wurzelbacher, "I don't know if they can change their image. I really don't.

"But, you also have to take into consideration that the Democrats say they are for people in poverty," Wurzelbacher added. "They're not. They take advantage of all the tax breaks that the IRS has put in place for them.

"Tax lobbying is a billion-dollar industry up in Washington. Get rid of the tax code we have. Implement a fair tax-make it a level playing ground.

Observed Wurzelbacher, "People in poverty keep them in power--that's what people have to understand."

Wurzelnbacher and Limbaugh's comments inspired a comedic take at the Huffington Post in a satirical May 5 article.

"Leading conservative thinkers Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Joe The Plumber today announced a 700 city 'Yapping Tour' to counter efforts by the Republican party to launch a 'Listening Tour,'" the comedy piece began.

The joke item continued, "Joe The Plumber was blunt in his assessment of the GOP's idea of bringing in new voters by trying to figure out why so many voters seem to hate their guts, saying to a group of reporters, 'Listening is gay.'"

The item went on to joke, "The trio said they hope by talking at people across America, they could instill an interest in free market principles, a strong foreign policy and belief in strong moral values.

"As an added benefit, they noted, some fringe lunatic loners might be inspired to go batshit crazy and do things that the three could later claim no responsibility for."

The item poked fun at the GOP's long-standing "big tent" claim, which in essence declares that the party is open to Americans of all sorts.

The article offered a faux quote from right-wing TV and radio commentator Glenn Beck: "Of course we have a big tent. A really giagungus tent, actually.

"Our tent is big so we can be way over on one side and the queers and Mexican primitives and that Steele guy are way way over on the other side," the fake Beck quote went on.

"Maybe sometimes we keep them outside the tent and maybe sometimes we venture out at night after we've had a few drinks and beat them up and then hope the people on our side of the tent acquit us... but it's still a tent of inclusion.

"You're not invited, by the way."

For some, no parodic writing was needed: the comments from the GOP's right wing spoke for themselves.

A May 4 article at Politicker NJ quoted Steve Goldstein, who chairs the New Jersey GLBT equality organization Garden State Equality, as saying, "I would do anything to have Joe the Plumber do a whistle stop tour of New Jersey and offer his views on marriage equality in every part of the state."

Added Goldstein, "The legislature would rush into session and we'd win marriage equality within a week."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • , 2009-05-05 21:11:09

    who the hell is this "joe the plumber" guy? keeping his kids away from gays? dude, i hope all your kids come out gay, hope your girls come out like big-dieseal dikes and your boys come out flamming faggots. and I mean no disrespect to the gays, as I am gay. us gays should stay away from people like this "joe the plumber" people like him, only infest peoples minds with sick thoughts about others. Joe, maybe your the one that we should keep our kids away from. with a mind like that...hell no, you aint goin anywhere my kids. you give us humans a bad name.

  • , 2009-05-05 21:29:33

    Who are you to want to keep your kids away from gays? I know more sane homosexuals than I do heteros. Who are the ones on the news? Raping women, raping children, killing their wives....Heteros, heteros, and heteros. Seems to me that gay people all we try to do is be accepted by society. we want to love, get married to the ones we were chosen to be destined with. we want to be recognized in the governments eyes. We dont want anything else but to be ourselves and not be afraid. To not be afraid of people like this "JOE THE PLUMBER." People see gays as, we’re bad, we’re worse than terrorists? What is that? Why? And of course people like this plumber don’t help the situation any better. We are who we are, we are gay and we are not going anywhere. Whether plumbers like it or not.

  • fern , 2009-05-06 08:36:47

    When one is brought up in a hetero environment, he views them (the gay) as a secret society doing bad things, being seen with one was OMG! Everyone was going to ask me if I am one, in those days the media protected private life more than they do today, so we were all clueless about the gay people. This is were I may understand Joe the plumber Wurlitzer or Prejean even though I wish they’d keep their trap shut. Had I been gay I don’t think I’d have the guts to come out of the closet, so I have the utmost respect for people who do, then there is the "crime" of pedophilia I have known that for some of the "victims" it was highly beneficial, especially teacher/student relationships, I know this for fact. Each day a new state allows SSM puts a smile on my face as I know it is one more step toward a less repressive society, you in Massachusetts know that as I do here in Belgium.

  • , 2009-05-06 14:43:54

    whats wrong with bringing up your kids the right way, i think joe is right gays and sex offender should be branded on thier forheads

  • , 2009-05-07 02:34:26

    I think it’s time to "flush" Joe the Plumber down the drain. His 15 min’s of fame is over. Why do we need to even concern ourselves with someone as homophobic as he is. He just proves that there is still ignorance in the world.

  • Talk2Me, 2009-05-07 15:17:38

    Joe, let’s line up straight and gay citizens of this fine nation of ours--including Ohio, naturally. Don’t you see that a lesser percentage of we gay men and women commit the kinds of crimes that are making the old USA slip year by year? Then too, kindly remember that over 55% of all straight first marriages end in divorce. And how about all of those "accidental children" that seem to be hitting the scene in growing number? They’re not being produced by gays. Maybe adopted by us. Look about you right in the great state of Ohio and tell me that all your straight buddies are setting fine examples of how today’s infants should grow up and make themselves truly useful to this nation. No, Mr. Joe, those thoughts of yours might need to have the dust blown off them.

  • , 2009-05-08 08:57:21

    Gay men carry with them a certain kind of natural odor--sorta like pheromones from some rear end. hehe

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