Prominent homosexual rights activist Stephen Herbits, who, according to the national homosexual magazine Advocate, has contributed $17,000 to Democratic candidates, is back at work screening political appointees to President Bushs Pentagon.
Herbits also screened Defense Department personnel early in the Bush Administration.
In response to a query from HUMAN EVENTS, Cmdr. Donald Sewell of the Pentagon public affairs office e-mailed this statement on July 10: “Mr. Herbits is an intermittent consultant to the Department of Defense assisting the Office of the Secretary on organizational and personnel matters. He served as Secretary [Donald] Rumsfelds special assistant during his first tour at the Pentagon and has well served other secretaries of defense over many years. He has extensive experience in DoD and has made many useful contributions to our national defense. His advice on the matters where he assists the department is excellent and the Secretary values his help.”
“Steve Herbits, with a record of supporting Democrats and homosexual causes, has been given more power than most Bush Administration appointees,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness. “Not everyone gets to pass negative judgment on loyal, highly qualified Republicans who want to serve President Bush, while quietly promoting candidates who are supportive of his own personal social agenda.”
According to the Advocate, Rumsfeld called Herbits (who says he supports a strong military) in January 2001 to ask him to consult on Pentagon hiring. Herbits said he took the job temporarily, and did a second stint after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but left in order to fight a referendum in Dade County, Fla., that aimed at overturning the countys homosexual rights rules.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R.) supported the legality of the referendum, while not endorsing it. According to the Advocate Herbits said he told Rumsfeld, “I have to go home to protect my kids from the Presidents brother. . . . Not my birth kids, but my kids who are struggling with their sexual orientation and have no one to take care of them.”
According to an Aug. 31, 2001, report in the Miami Herald, Herbits helped out former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno (D.) when she was putting together a campaign aimed at ousting Jeb. “Steve Herbits, a retired businessman,” the Herald reported, “lent his Miami Beach apartment when Reno interviewed potential campaign managers.”
Herbits told the Advocate that he liked working in personnel. “Personnel is, ultimately, policy,” he said. “If there was a candidate I didnt like for some good reason, I could bring it up in the vetting process. If there was someone I really liked, I could push the person along.”
Herbits tangled with then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R.-Miss.) in 2001, when Lott held up Pentagon personnel confirmations after Herbits refused to hire someone Lott recommended. “Lott was wrong and corrupt,” Herbits told the Advocate. But he admitted that Lotts opposition to homosexuality colored his view of the senator. “Certainly its hard to have an objective view of someone who thinks I should not exist,” he said.
Herbits “opposes the militarys dont ask, dont tell policy,” reported the Advocate.