Hugh Hefner warns of GOP ‘war on sex’

Hugh Hefner in an editorial for the May issue of Playboy magazine slammed the GOP presidential field as "repressed conservatives" who are "pounding on America's bedroom door."

Hefner warned readers of his empire’s flagship magazine that members of the Republican Party are waging a “war on sex.”

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The phrase — which serves as the title of the editorial — is a new spin on a raging political battle over contraception and federal funding for Planned Parenthood that Democrats have called the “war on women.” But Hefner makes an argument some Democrats have rejected by returning the fraught debate to the issue of “sexual liberation.” Many Democrats have argued that contraception is an element of women’s healthcare, rebuffing Republicans who bring up sexual behavior.

Many of the Republican presidential candidates, including those that have dropped out of the 2012 race, opposed the White House’s mandate earlier this year for employers to include contraception as part of employee insurance coverage without charging a co-pay, and have also proposed defunding Planned Parenthood. Hefner calls out Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul in his article as the worst offenders.

“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,” he continued. “Welcome to the new sexual revolution.”

The editorial, of course, is included in a magazine that features pictures of nude women. Supermodel May Andersen appears on the cover.

Hefner, who founded Playboy magazine in 1953 and later the multimillion-dollar Playboy Enterprises brand, cites his role as a leader of the sexual liberation in the editorial and casts himself as a cultural critic sounding the alarm over “a new crop of self-appointed arbiters who are determined to oversee our morality.”

Hefner lists numerous examples from various Republican campaigns over the past few months as evidence of his charge, including pro-Santorum super-PAC donor Foster Friess’s joke about “aspirin as contraception” and conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh’s use of the word “slut” to describe a Georgetown University law student who testified for House Democrats on the White House’s contraception insurance mandate.

“For months I have watched the rhetoric building,” Hefner wrote, suggesting he was drawn out by the increasingly heated rhetoric from behind the scenes to write a rare personal editorial in the magazine.

Some Republicans, such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), have blamed Democrats for heightening the rhetoric by dismissing the concerns of “people of religious faith” in the ongoing debates over contraception. Some Republicans have countered the charge of a “war on women” by accusing Democrats of waging a “war on religion.”