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Holiday travel means stress not only for passengers, but also for the men and women tasked with ensuring that the skies remain safe. But some fear that enhanced security measures will mean illicit thrills for gays and lesbians among the ranks of some of the nation's hardest-working professionals. On the fringe right, outrage about the Transportation Security Administration's invasive--but, officials say, necessary--security procedures continues to take on sexual overtones.
Anti-gay pundits and blogs have taken up the issue of TSA agents being required to scan randomly selected passengers with imaging technology that views the body through clothing and can spot hidden weapons. Passengers who decline the imaging are subject to mandatory pat-downs that probe sensitive private regions. The enhanced security procedures come in the wake of an attempt, last Christmas, by a terrorist with plastic explosive hidden in his underwear to blow up a plane in flight. But the anti-gay bloggers and pundits are not expressing worry over terrorists; rather, they are concerned that homosexual security agents might administer the pat-downs.
Now a Va. lawmaker has joined their ranks. Loudoun County Board of Supervisors member Eugene Delgaudio warned in an email that the security searches are part of what he termed a "wide-scale homosexual agenda," reported FM radio station WTOP on Nov. 30. The Republican lawmaker sent the email out under the aegis of the Public Advocate of the United States, a conservative group he heads.
Citing the TSA's non-discrimination policy for hiring, Delgaudio claimed that the policy was "the federal employee's version of the Gay Bill of Special rights," and envisioned a scenario in which "the next TSA official that gives you an enhanced pat-down could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission."
The 11-year member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has a history of anti-gay remarks, noted WTOP, including a claim that a safe schools bill introduced at the federal level, the The Student Non-Discrimination Act, would transform school "playgrounds into homosexual breeding grounds." The GOP lawmaker has also claimed that family parity for same-sex families would lead to "men hand-in-hand skipping down to adoption centers to 'pick out' a little boy for themselves," WTOP reported.
The anti-gay pol's remark is the latest entry in a series of bizarre claims that challenge the professionalism of TSA agents and seem to see gays in uniform around every airport x-ray machine. The issue has also taken on anti-Muslim overtones, with angry posts at sites such as Free Republic.com claiming that women clad head-to-toe in concealing garments due to religious modesty are given preferential treatment.
Anti-gay bloggers have seized upon the kernel of the TSA's security procedures and spun elaborate scenarios in which predatory uniformed gays are depicted as subjecting the innocent to sexually charged friskings. One source of these anxieties is a mandate from the head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, that when travelers decline to be subjected to imaging screening, agents of the same gender will perform the mandatory pat down.
At anti-gay religious site WorldNetDaily, a Nov. 24 op-ed by contributor Tim Daughtry wondered, "Have the masterminds at the TSA considered the experience of gay and lesbian passengers forced to choose between radiation and rubdowns conducted by a same-sex stranger?
"And what about the experience of gay and lesbian TSA workers forced to conduct same-sex pat downs?" Daughtry's op-ed continued. "How would those experiences differ from those of heterosexual women forced to endure pat downs by heterosexual males in the TSA or heterosexual women in the TSA forced to pat down heterosexual men? The phones at the American Civil Liberties Union must be ringing off the hook." Added the op-ed, "It seems that the left's long march through the institutions has reached our crotches."