Republican Party admits to antigay mailers

The Republican Party acknowledged Thursday that it has been sending mass mailings to residents of Arkansas and West Virginia warning that ''liberals'' seek to ban the Bible while promoting same-sex marriage, according to a report in The New York Times. As part of the GOP's efforts to mobilize religious voters for President Bush, the mailings include an image of the Bible under the word "banned" and an image of a man proposing to another man under the word "allowed." The Arkansas mailing warns: "This will be Arkansas if you don't vote." The West Virginia mailing is similar in content.

In an e-mail to the Times, Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, confirmed that the party had sent the mailings. "When the Massachusetts supreme court sanctioned same-sex marriage and people in other states realized they could be compelled to recognize those laws, same-sex marriage became an issue," Iverson said. "These same activist judges also want to remove the words 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance."

In a statement, Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, said President Bush "should condemn the practice immediately and tell everyone associated with the campaign to never use tactics like this again." Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called the mailings an ugly contrast to Bush's public statements. Although the president has called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, he often emphasizes the need for tolerance as well. "The president takes more or less the high road, and his henchmen and allies on the right have been let loose to conduct these ugly, divisive smear campaigns," Foreman told the Times. "It is wedge politics at its worst."

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