Former House Speaker molested teens — trans people didn’t

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Former House Speaker Denny Hastert

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s sentencing hearing on child molestation charges was held last week. He faces five years in prison. Defense lawyers asked for probation.

In this age of outrage over bathroom usage and protecting our children, there has been quite a bit of outrage demanding the child molester be punished severely and made an example.

Here’s a sample of what Republicans, who support the recently created bathroom laws in Mississippi and North Carolina, had to say.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay wrote: “He has never disappointed me in any way. He is a man of strong faith that guides him. He is a man of great integrity. He loves and respects his fellow man.”

Wait. What? You mean he loves fellow boys, right? Loves them too much.

“We all have flaws,” DeLay wrote, “but Dennis Hastert has very few.”

One of those flaws, however, is molesting minors, something some people are outraged that transgender women are doing, even though they’re not.

One of the 41 support letters that I particularly enjoyed was from Joseph Ritchie, founder and CEO of Chicago Research and Trading. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the letter:

“I was working on a plan to bring the former King of Afghanistan back to the country, and so undermine the Taliban. As it turned out, we needed some cooperation from Washington, particularly in Congress.”

I love when private citizens create their own foreign policy and then go to members of Congress to help them, maybe lend an army battalion or two, air force cover, whatever I happen to need. So this supporter of Hastert used his own questionably legal activity as a justification for Hastert getting a lighter sentence. If that letter doesn’t get him an extra year in prison, nothing will.

Jeff Scrima, a friend, argues, “Regarding his recently revealed transgressions, he has already received his penalty — financially (with money already paid out) and with his reputation (which is now completely shot.)”

Hush money paid is not usually considered part of someone’s sentence for committing a crime. In fact, it’s part of his cover up and lying to the FBI that he’s convicted of doing. And, yes, most people who commit a felony lose their reputation. Let me give you an example: Let’s say you’re Speaker of the House of Representatives and have some major accomplishments. You retire with a good reputation. Then you’re arrested and convicted of molesting adolescents and cover up that involves avoiding banking regulations. Your reputation is then, as you put it, shot. Clear?

But again, one thing is clear: A former Speaker of the House who is cisgender molested teens. Transgender people didn’t.

—  David Taffet

Lesbian DA calls DeLay’s sentence fair

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg

In case you haven’t heard, anti-gay former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison today for money laundering.

DeLay was convicted in November of illegally funneling corporate money to state legislative races.

Openly gay Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, whose office prosecuted DeLay, says she feels the sentence is fair, according to The New York Times.

Lehmberg’s office had asked for a sentence of 10 years in prison, while the defense requested probation.

Lehmberg also again denied DeLay’s claim that his prosecution was politically motivated, and she noted that he’s likely to remain free pending his appeal since the sentence is less than 10 years. DeLay was taken to jail but was expected to be released after posting $10,000 bail.

—  John Wright

DeLay, who warned U.S. would ‘go down’ because of gay marriage, is brought down by a lesbian

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg

If case you missed it, former House Republican Majority Leader Tom “the Hammer” DeLay was convicted Wednesday on felony charges of money laundering for illegally funneling corporate dollars into Texas state legislative races in 2002.

DeLay, who represented a Houston-area House district from 1984 to 2005, faces up to life in prison but says he will appeal the verdict.

DeLay had a decidedly anti-gay voting record in Congress, receiving the worst possible score of zero from the Human Rights Campaign in each of his last two sessions. A year before his indictment and resignation, DeLay spoke on the House floor in support of a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage:

“This nation knows that if you destroy marriage as the definition of one man and one woman, creating children so that we can transfer our values to those children and they can be raised in an ideal home, this country will go down,” DeLay said.

“So believe me, everybody in this country’s going to know how you voted today,” he said, his anger mounting with every word. “They’re going to know how you stood on the fundamental protection of marriage and the definition of marriage. And we will take it from here and we will come back, and we will come back, and we will come back. We will never give up. We will protect marriage in this country.”

Given DeLay’s record on gay rights, perhaps there’s some poetic justice to the fact that the district attorney who obtained the conviction, Rosemary Lehmberg, is an out and proud lesbian. Lehmberg, a Democrat, was elected to replace Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who initiated DeLay’s prosecution, after Earle retired in 2008. Before that, Lehmberg served as Earle’s first assistant for 10 years in the office that’s home to the state’s Public Integrity Unity, which is charged with investigating corruption in government.

Of course, DeLay’s prosecution had no more to do with Lehmberg’s sexual orientation than it did with her party affiliation, and none of the stories we’ve seen about his conviction even mention it.

Which is why we thought we would.

“I think that I serve as an individual who demonstrates that sexual orientation is not particularly relevant, except to your personal life, and therefore a lot of the homophobia and bias is unwarranted — the fear that people have,” Lehmberg told us following her election in 2008.

—  John Wright