Anti-Gay Former Rep. Jack Kemp Dies

Anti-gay former Rep. Jack Kemp has died of cancer at age 73.

Jack Kemp, a star football quarterback who became a congressman, U.S. Cabinet secretary and Republican vice presidential nominee, died on Saturday at age 73. Kemp died of cancer at his home in Bethesda, Maryland, The New York Times said, quoting his son, Jimmy Kemp.
He served 18 years as a congressman from Buffalo, New York, after starring with the Buffalo Bills of the old American Football League. In the House of Representatives, he championed tax cuts, free trade, economic growth and a return to the gold standard. Kemp ran unsuccessfully for his party’s presidential nomination in 1988 and was Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole’s running mate in the 1996 election. Kemp also served as secretary of housing and urban development under President George H.W. Bush.

Kemp was a vigorous gay rights opponent in Congress. He supported the firing of homosexual teachers, saying, “I think a school board should have the right to choose what type of example we have for our children in public schools.” Kemp fought legislation protecting the civil rights of people with HIV and supported a bill that would have required the mandatory reporting of those with the disease. He frequently characterized gay rights as “special rights” and was a co-founder of the right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation.

But as is so often the case with people like Jack Kemp, there may be a story behind the hate.

Peter O’Shea, in a 1996 Capital Q story, reported:

Associated Press this week ran a story in which one of Kemp’s former campaign managers was asked about a report dating back nearly 30 years that Kemp participated in a wild gay party at a ski cabin, which he partly owned with several gay men, in Lake Tahoe. The story, which Charles Black who managed Kemp’s campaign in 1988 dismissed as “totally unfounded”, dates back to 1967 when Kemp worked for then-California Governor, Ronald Reagan. After the party the New York Times ran an article reporting that a “homosexual ring” was running Reagan’s office. At least one of Reagan’s aides was fired. Later, in the mid-1980s, Newsweek ran a report in which Kemp maintained his investment in the cabin was strictly a business arrangement. [snip]

The San Francisco Independent and the New York gay newspaper LGNY also reported this week that Kemp, 53, who is married with four children, is rumored to be gay. LGNY reporter Andy Humm explained that “when someone being hailed as supposedly tolerant and committed to civil rights is in reality someone who shuts the door in faces of gay people on every single issue, it becomes relevant if he is homosexual”. In addition, at least a dozen reports from US gay journalists and activists on Kemp’s supposed gay past have been passed onto Capital Q. Capital Q has, however, been unable to substantiate them.