This week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, a galvanizing event in civil rights history best known for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. What better way to commemorate a great moment in history than by complaining about how the gays have hijacked the civil rights movement and have no right to be associated with it.

Unsurprisingly, that was the theme at the event hosted by the Republican National Committee. Among the comments from the dim bulbs that pass as luminaries in the party:

“You’re talking about a race of people, I don’t think you can make that comparison between a race of people and the gay rights movement, if that’s what you want to call it,” said former (thank God) Rep. Allen West.

“Everybody has come in front of them [African Americans] on the bus — gays, immigrants, women, environmentalists. You never hear any talk about the conditions confronting poor blacks and poor people in general.” said Bob Woodson, president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Woodson, who also said “corrupt” black politicians are “moral traitors,” received a standing ovation for his insights.

Ada Fisher, a physician and perennial GOP also-ran from North Carolina, complained that LGBT issues shouldn’t be central to the conversation about civil rights: “I think it’s unfortunate that people have diluted the purpose of the march on Washington I think it’s an unfair comparison. Whenever anybody wants something in this country they compare it the civil rights movement.”

To top it off, Alveda King, a niece of MLK Jr.’s, sang a spiritual rewritten to be more evangelical in tone. King has been trading on her family name for years to insist that her uncle would want nothing to do with gay rights.

Of course, no one seems to have mentioned that the main organizer of the March on Washington was a gay man, Bayard Rustin, who drew a direct connection between the civil rights movement and gay rights.

So, how’s that rebranding going, Republicans?

Photo credit: National Archives

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