Jo Ann Emerson, vicious homophobe, to head NRECA

Jo Ann Emerson is the Wrong Choice for the NRECA

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in Washington, DC (and the US).  And yesterday they announced their new CEO, Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson from Missouri (R-8th), one of the most virulently anti-gay members of the entire US Congress.

The NRECA represents and services all of the electric (and related) cooperative utilities in the country, not just in “rural” areas (in spite of its name). It has about 900 member utilities that serve 40 million people and own almost half of the US power grid.  The NRECA CEO’s influence is huge, especially since the association sets the tone and often policies – including employment policies – for all of the member companies.  And it has had a “public interest” history.

Not any more.

Jo Ann Emerson

Jo Ann Emerson

Jo Ann Emerson Voted to Ban Gay Couples in DC from Adopting Children

Gratuitously anti-gay.

Viciously anti-gay.

Jo Ann Emerson was against ENDA.  She was against gay adoption in DC.  Against the hate crimes bill.  Against domestic partner recognition.  In favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.  And she had a rating of ZERO from the Human Rights Campaign, which comes as little surprise when you get into the guts of her record, which is steeped in bigotry.

Let me walk you through the panoply of Jo Ann Emerson’s anti-gay votes in Congress.  The thing is, she didn’t just vote against us.  She went out of her way to support the worst of the worst anti-gay Republicans in the House, who offered vicious amendments to undercut the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act.

I keep using the word “vicious” because no other word suits such a hideously, gratuitously, anti-gay record.  What right did Emerson think she had, as a congresswoman from Missouri, to vote to ban gay couples in Washington, DC from being able to adopt children?  The arrogance, the level of hate, and the almost activist intensity with which she used her position in Congress to harm gays,  is stunning.

Here are the details of Jo Ann Emerson’s hateful anti-gay record in Congress from HRC’s scorecard and “On the Issues“:

  • Opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
  • Voted against ENDA, legislation to ban job discrimination against gay and trans people.
  • Voted yes on amending the US Constitution to ban gay marriage.
  • Voted to ban gay parents in DC from adopting children.
  • Opposed adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Hate Crimes bill.
  • Supported the Foxx amendment to the 2012 Defense Appropriations Act that would require the military to continue discriminating against gay and lesbian service members.
  • Supported the Huelskamp amendment to the 2012 Defense Appropriations Act to ban Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal training manuals.
  • Supported yet another anti-gay, anti-DADT, pro-DOMA amendment to the 2013 DOD Appropriations Act by Rep. King.
  • Supported a separate Huelskamp amendment to the FY2013 Commerce, Justice & Science Appropriations Act “to prohibit the Administration from using any federal funds to undermine or bring suit against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or state constitutional amendments protecting traditional marriage.”
  • Opposed legislation to “amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the same immigration benefits that legal, different-sex spouses of U.S. permanent residents enjoy.”
  • Opposed legislation “to provide spousal health-care, retirement, and other benefits to all federal civilian employees with qualifying same-sex domestic partners.”

Anti-Civil Rights Activists are not “Moderate”

The NRECA is trying to sell Jo Ann Emerson to the public as some kind of moderate!  A moderate what?  It would have been nearly impossible to find someone worse on gay civil rights than Jo Ann Emerson.

Huge American organizations – especially behind the scenes ones like NRECA – need to be held accountable for their choices in leaders, especially when they’ll have so much influence in setting employment policies and other rules affecting so many people around the country.  NRECA is incredibly influential.  They should be held to the highest standards.

And their member utilities are just that – public utilities with public charters.  So there’s a quasi-governmental quality to the organization.  And its leader believes in discriminating against a large segment of American society, which also include some of her own employees.

The weird thing is that the organization isn’t reputed to be anti-gay at its core.  Quite the contrary, it’s rooted in liberal, FDR New Deal-type development, universal service, principles.  Which is why it’s so out of character for them to being hiring a virulent bigot.

The NRECA claims that “[t]he respect [Emerson] has from both sides of the aisle and her proven ability to bridge political and policy divides and find common ground will serve NRECA well.”  Respect?  Bridge political divides and find common ground?  Yeah, she did a great job finding common ground with the worst legislative gay-bashers in the US House of Representatives.  And you sure have to respect the tenacity it takes to be a class-A bigot.

How Can Anyone Gay Work at the NRECA in the Future, Knowing the Contempt their Boss has for Them?

I pity any gay or trans people – hell, any Democrats – working under Jo Ann Emerson at the NRECA.  She quite literally voted to take away the civil rights of her own employees at the NRECA, she voted to ban them from having children.

How do you work for someone like that after they cast such a hideous vote against your basic humanity?  And how can Emerson treat her new gay employees with any modicum of fairness when she clearly has such contempt for them as human beings?

What a complete #FAIL.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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