In a rare full-page editorial, Hugh Hefner is warning his readers that Republicans are waging a "war on sex" in the May edition of Playboy magazine.
The 86-year-old publishing tycoon, who is known for his casual, pajama wardrobe, helped introduce what has been termed the "sexual revolution" in the 1960s. He is now challenging the GOP on a number of fronts, including the party's challenge to President Obama's contraception mandate and its push to defund the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.
The column, titled "The War Against Sex," claims repressed conservatives are "pounding on America's bedroom door."
"If these zealots have their way, our hard-won sexual liberation – women's rights, reproductive rights and rights to privacy – lie in peril," Hefner wrote. "We won't let that happen."
Hefner's anger is directed at most of the recent Republican contenders for president, citing examples of statements they've made on the campaign trail.
"For months I have watched the rhetoric building," wrote Hefner. "Last October, in an interview with an evangelical blogger, Rick Santorum promised to defund birth control on the grounds that contraception is a 'license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.'…Ron Paul was no better, believing that the birth control pill did not cause immorality but that immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pill. Mitt Romney vowed to see a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and to overturn Roe v. Wade."
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Susan Thomas, a pro-life activist in Nashville, Tenn., takes exception to Hefner's comments and the role he has played in exposing young women to immoral values. When asked about his comments, Thomas was somewhat dumbfounded.
"Wow, I really don't know how to respond to that," Thomas exclaimed. "For him to talk about immorality in any context is amazing given what he has done and continues to do to thousands of young women, not to mention the men who view his magazine. "He obviously disagrees that sex should be reserved for marriage and that is his right, but the war on women is being led by people like him and others who elevate such a lifestyle."
Hefner not only expressed his views toward elected officials, but also took on other conservative figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Foster Friess, the wealthy donor to GOP Super PACS.
"All these years later I hear echoes of this same ignorance espoused by a new crop of self-appointed arbiters who are determined to oversee our morality. I heard it when Santorum backer Foster Friess said, 'Back in my days, [women] used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives,' implying that if women held an aspirin between their legs they wouldn't open them. I heard it when I learned about proposed anti-abortion legislation in Kansas that would protect doctors who conceal vital medical information from pregnant women."
"And I heard it when Rush Limbaugh called a Georgetown University law student a 'slut' and a 'prostitute' after she testified on Capitol Hill about allowing employers to avoid providing contraception for religious reasons."
Playboy, once one of the most popular men's magazines in the world, has suffered in numbers of subscribers in recent years, primarily due to free Internet access to comparable sites and an aging readership.
Playboy's circulation, including subscriptions and single-copy sales at the end June 2011, was 1.63 million, down from 2.45 million the previous year.