Senator Assails Nominee for Avoiding Disney 'Gay Days'

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:29pm EDT

(Editor's Note: The following article contains descriptions of actual and simulated homosexual activity during the "Gay Days" events, that some readers may find offensive.)

Capitol Hill ( - The decision by one of President Bush's conservative judicial nominees not to take his children to the Walt Disney World Resort during an unofficial homosexual gathering held there annually is under fire by one liberal Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) challenged Alabama Attorney General William H. "Bill" Pryor about his decision during Pryor's June 11 confirmation hearing before the committee.

"News accounts also report that you even went so far as to schedule a family vacation at Disney World in order to avoid 'Gay Day[s].'" Feingold stated.

Pryor freely acknowledged that he had changed his plans.

"As far as my family vacation is concerned, my wife and I had two daughters who at the time of that vacation were 6 and 4, and we made a value judgment," Pryor explained. "And that was our personal decision."

Feingold stated that he could "certainly respect going to Disney World with two daughters" and said he had also taken his daughters to the theme park in Kissimmee, Fla.

"But are you saying that you actually made that decision on purpose to be away at the time of that [homosexual gathering]?" Feingold asked again.

"We made a value judgment and changed our plan and went on another weekend," Pryor responded.

Peter LaBarbera with the Culture and Family Institute of Concerned Women for America has attended prior Gay Days at Disney to gather evidence about what he considers explicit behavior that occurs in view of everyone, including children who might be at the park.

"I actually witnessed two men grinding, sexually, together while they were watching a parade," LaBarbera recalled. "This is not a proper atmosphere for children."

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon called Feingold's challenge of Pryor on the issue "asinine."

"Sen. Feingold is the one who is way out by himself, with a few of the other Democratic leaders and some of the homosexual groups on that one, no question about it," Wildmon said. "He should be ashamed of himself for trying to take Mr. Pryor to task for avoiding a homosexual day at Disney World because he had two young daughters."

Richard Lessner - executive director of American Renewal, the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council - indicated that Feingold seemed to be intruding on Pryor's rights as a father.

"He [Pryor] did not want to expose innocent young children like that to Gay Days at Disney World and have to explain to them, 'Why are these men holding hands and kissing?'" Lessner said. "That's a decision for a parent to make, and for Sen. Feingold to suggest that there was anything improper or intolerant in such a decision, I think, is quite improper and offensive."

Gay Days' videos show Disney employees simulating sex acts

As previously reported, the Christian Action Network (CAN) shot video of events at the 2001 Gay Days, which it made available to Disney shareholders at their annual meeting in February of 2002. The video recorded "homosexual kissing, hugging, fondling and X-rated movies playing on a Disney cruise line bus," according to the CAN. The group had gathered additional videotape in prior years that featured Disney employees simulating anal and oral sex at a Disney nightclub.

At the 2003 event, CAN President Martin Mawyer reported taking video of "the most brazen and shameless display of public homosexuality" he has ever seen.

"It's absolutely impossible to describe the depth of depravity we saw," Mawyer said, noting that all of the video he described was taken in places accessible to the public. "Not only did we see men kissing men, but these shirtless homosexuals were twisting the nipples of each other and fondling the butts and groins of their 'lovers.'"

Wildmon believes it is perfectly understandable that Pryor would not want to expose his two young daughters to such events.

"This man [Pryor] wanted to avoid going to Disney World where 'Bill and Steve' would be kissing and groping one another," Wildmon surmised. "Probably 95 percent of the American public would say, 'Absolutely, amen, you made a great decision.'

"I would do the same thing as a father," he continued. "I would not expose young children to that kind of behavior at Disney World."

Lessner recalled similar situations where families have found themselves in the midst of a gathering seemingly designed to promote homosexual behavior.

"We have had cases in the past where families have gone to the park on those particular days and have been quite shocked by some of the flagrant demonstrations they've seen," Lessner recalled. "Again, it puts parents in the situation of having to explain some things to children that, at a certain age, they shouldn't have to be dealing with and should not be exposed to."

Pryor opposed by pro-homosexual groups

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) - a political lobbying group that supports special legal rights for homosexuals, bisexuals and individuals identifying themselves as transgendered - called Pryor's positions "mean-spirited" and opposed his nomination.

"Mr. Pryor has spent his career opposing the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans," Winnie Stachelberg, HRC political director, said in a press release. "We are concerned that his profound prejudice will prevent him from making clear, unbiased decisions as a federal judge, and we strongly oppose his nomination."

The HRC criticized Pryor for his defense of the Texas law prohibiting participation in sodomy by individuals not legally married.

"He is on record using mean-spirited rhetoric that compares gay relationships with incest and pedophilia and perpetuates hurtful myths," the HRC wrote.

Feingold echoed the special interest group's attack during his questioning of Pryor.

"In a recent brief to the Supreme Court, you equated private consensual sexual activity between homosexuals to prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, incest and pedophilia," Feingold noted. "In light of this record, can you understand why a gay plaintiff or defendant would feel uncomfortable coming before you as a judge?"

But LaBarbera questioned Feingold's motives.

"Sen. Feingold is so beholden to his gay special interest groups and backers," LaBarbera said, "that he's just lost sight of reality."

Pryor wrote in an amicus brief in support of Texas' law prohibiting homosexual sodomy that - if the court found a constitutional right to homosexual activity - it would weaken the states' ability to enforce laws against other currently regulated consensual sexual activities, such as prostitution and adultery.

The allegedly "mean-spirited rhetoric" and "hurtful myths" Pryor paraphrased came from the Supreme Court's 1986 ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick, in which the court ruled that homosexual adults have no legal or constitutional right to commit even consensual sodomy.

"And if respondent's submission is limited to the voluntary sexual conduct between consenting adults, it would be difficult, except by fiat, to limit the claimed right to homosexual conduct," wrote Justice Byron White, "while leaving exposed to prosecution adultery, incest and other sexual crimes even though they are committed in the home.

"We are unwilling to start down that road," White added.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the Texas case, Lawrence v. Texas, on March 25 and is expected to issue its ruling as early as this month.

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