Commentary: DeMint's still talking about banning gays from teaching

When pols and tea partiers say they want to "take our country back" do they mean take it back from the people running the government, or do they really mean "take it back a few centuries"?

It's a tough competition among S.C. politicians as to who's had the worst publicity. We once thought Gov. Mark Sanford could not be topped, after his escapade in Buenos Aires with his paramour and televised confession. But along came Alvin Greene, an unknown and unemployed veteran charged with a felony who's the Democratic nominee against Sen. Jim DeMint. Greene is, let's use a nice word, eccentric. What with Sanford and Greene, accusations that Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley had two extramarital affairs (she denies them) and tax problems barely moved the needle.

Now comes DeMint, who last week brought up an earlier remark that gay people and unwed mothers shouldn't be allowed to be teachers. Facing only Greene, a write-in campaign by Charleston chef Nathalie Dupree and a Green Party candidate, he's spending a lot of time out of state, supporting extreme right-wing candidates such as Christine O'Donnell, Rand Paul and Sharron Angle. But he took time last week for a Greater Freedom Rally at First Baptist North in Spartanburg.

Some background: Ban-gays-and-loose-women is not a new remark for DeMint. During his 2004 Senate campaign, he said, "If a person is a practicing homosexual, they should not be teaching in our schools." A few days later he told an Aiken, S.C., newspaper that pregnant, single women living with their boyfriends also should not teach. (He apparently did not mention banning the men.) He apologized for his comments about female teachers, but said his apology didn't include gays.

Last week in Spartanburg he mentioned both remarks, saying he'd received plenty of approval in 2004 - a mention we suspect was to signal to supporters that, lest they worry, he's still concerned with teachers' sex habits.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.