Arizona Senator John McCain is threatening a filibuster over the 2011 Defense Authorization Act if language repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is included, according to Roll Call.

McCain the new Thurmond?

“I’ll do everything in my power,” the Arizona Republican said, citing letters from the four service chiefs urging Congress not to act before a Pentagon review of the policy is complete. “I’m going to do everything I can to support the men and women of the military and to fight what is clearly a political agenda.”

In the past, McCain has said the policy should be repealed when military leaders determine it is no longer effective. Unfortunately, McCain is in the middle of a heated primary contest with J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth has the support of the conservative “Tea Party” movement who have turned out en masse early in the 2010 campaign season.

It seems McCain is making every effort to appease the ultra-conservative movement by acting, well… ultra conservative. Being anti-gay is about as conservative as it gets.

Click here to see our video of Atlanta tea partiers at the Gold Dome.

The filibuster threat reminds me of the infamous Strom Thurmond, former senator from South Carolina. Thurmond, who died in 2003, still holds the record for the longest filibuster in the history of the Senate. He was protesting the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Looking back, Thurmond’s position was downright racist. Despite the fact he later claimed the issue was about state’s rights (the same excuse used in the lead up to the Civil War to justify slavery), Thurmond will always be remembered for trying to block the civil rights of African Americans. Oh, and that whole illegitimate child thing.

McCain runs the same risk of perception if he actually follows through with his threat. In 50 years, he would be remembered not as a war hero or a man who nearly became president twice, but as a homophobe who fought against the rights of LGBT persons much the same way people remember Thurmond as an ardent supporter of racial segregation.

Thurmond’s filibuster was more than 24 hours long. I’d like to see McCain filibuster for 24 minutes without falling asleep at the podium.