John T. (Terry) Dolan, chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee, has split with much of the political and religious right over gay rights in a wide-ranging interview with a gay magazine.
Dolan, one of the New Right's most vocal spokesmen, is quoted as saying he would support a law prohibiting the federal government from discriminating against homosexuals, that he opposes zoning laws to keep gay bars out of neighborhoods, that he doesn't think homosexuals should be barred from the military or teaching in public schools, and that "the rhetoric that some of my friends in the right have used on gay activism has been excessive."
In the interview to be published in the March 26 issue of The Advocate, a California-based magazine, Dolan also criticizes New Right groups that have used the gay-rights issue to raise money and apologizes for NCPAC's having done it.
"Sexual preference is irrelevant to political philosophy," says Dolan, who confirms that he granted the interview and that all but one key remark attributed to him are accurate.
The tape-recorded interview, conducted by The Advocate's Washington editor, Larry Bush, is significant because it clearly sets Dolan apart from a host of his allies on the political right who have vigorously campaigned against gay rights.
In a Feb. 15 fund-raising letter, for example, the Moral Majority said it had launched an effort "to investigate, document and expose the gay conspirators whose goal is to completely legitimatize homosexuality in America in the very near future--in fact during 1982."
The interview also puts Dolan at odds with many of the candidates he has helped elect to Congress and with the past practices of his own organization. For example, one NCPAC fund-raising letter, signed by Rep. Daniel B. Crane (R-Ill.) said: "Our nation's moral fiber is being weakened by the growing homosexual movement and the fanatical ERA pushers (many of whom publicly brag they are lesbians)."
In the interview, Dolan said: "I truly regret that we ever put into print anything questioning the morality or patriotism of any person. That's totally inappropriate."
Dolan disputes only one key quotation attributed to him. It involved a question if he would favor a law prohibiting federal agencies from discriminating against homosexuals. According to The Advocate, he replied: "Absolutely, absolutely. As a matter of fact, if there isn't a law, there ought to be a law."
"I can't imagine I said that," Dolan said yesterday. "I'm against all laws." He acknowledged that some of his remarks might cause some problems. "Consistency gets one in trouble, and I expect that might happen here," he said.
But in the interview, Dolan said, "If we conservatives believe the government has no right to regulate our economic life, then it certainly has no right to regulate our private life, except to the point where we do harm to each other."