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September 16, 2004



I think there's a difference between a politician taking policy stances and a politician, as you say, preaching fire and damnation.

One concerns government policy and the other concerns lectures on private morality.

In the latter case, I'm all in favor of outing for hypocrisy reasons because the sole purpose of the rantings is vindictive. In the former case, there are often more subtle reasons.

If a policy would cause actual harm (legalizing violence against gays for example), then it would be a different question.

I've never seen policy opposition to gay marriage, for example, as being prima facae homophobic. I don't see something like that as being akin to advocating a repeat of Matthew Shepherd's lynching.

What it boils down to is that people don't like nuance.

Randy McDonald

If a particular politician was virulently homophobic while having gay sex on the side, I might not oppose an outing. As a rule, though, I oppose outings.

Mrs Tilton

If a particular politician was virulently homophobic while having gay sex on the side, I might not oppose an outing. As a rule, though, I oppose outings.

I suppose that's pretty much the way I feel as well. As a general rule, a politician's private life, like anybody's else, should be just that, unless s/he chooses to make it public (and privacy is hardly limited to the sexual sphere).

And I take the 'we'll only out the richly-deserving closet cases who support homophobic laws' with a grain of salt (or perhaps I should say cum grano salis, what with Abiola's new enthusiasm). One quite sees the logic, but there is a subjective element here. Might a pol be gay and yet believe, for some principled reason rather than in order to pander to a homophobic Republican fundamentalist base, that formal marriage should be heterosexual? I can only speculate, being neither gay nor opposed to gay marriage, but I should imagine yes. There are some arguments -- e.g., tradition, or the reproductive element -- that I do not buy, but would concede might be proffered in good if misguided faith. Is that, then, the sort of hypocrisy that just begs for outing? I think not.

But all that said, can one really be very disturbed at the outing of, say, a Congressman Schrock? I am not Charles Krauthammer so I am not qualified to conduct long-distance psychoanalysis of a man I never met. But whetever demons Schrock might or might not have been wrestling with, he was no borderline case. A darling of the hard Christian right, he was as obnoxiously homophobic as it gets, supporting every possible antigay measure. And then, when he went home from the House, he'd trawl gay sex lines looking for hunky young studs. The only reason not to out somebody like that would be if one embraced Abiola's principled stance against any outing at all. Julian Sanchez's pragmatic argument is much weaker here. From a gay rights perspective, Schrock's district could not possibly have had a worse representative, whatever his personal sexual orientation.

Abiola Lapite

"or perhaps I should say cum grano salis, what with Abiola's new enthusiasm"

I see you've picked up on one of my traits - once I become interested in something, I find it difficult to let go until I've mastered every last nook and cranny; call it hyperfocus (tunnel vision?) if you will. As the scorpion said to the frog, "I can't help it you see, it's in my nature."

Getting back to the point at hand, yes, I do think it acceptable to "out" people who go about crusading against homosexuality, but I don't see how the case of someone like Dreier could ever be rationalized to fit that schema. His refusal to oppose the FMA isn't what I'd call wise, but it is no more a sign of hypocrisy or self-hatred in my eyes than is some black person's opposition to affirmative-action. Who knows, perhaps he holds radical views according to which marriage is a heterosexist trap: it isn't as if there's an absence of that sort of rhetoric on the fringes of the gay left.

I suppose what really gets me about this "outing" campaign is the underlying assumption that there is only one right way that a gay politician is supposed to think and vote, and that any wavering from that line makes one fair game for harrassment.

Randy McDonald

There's definitely an ongoing debate about the applicability of marriage in the non-heterosexual communities. Many do see it as a heterosexualization of non-heterosexual couples, as the imposition of a specific institution with its own particular traditions and without profound attachments. Myself, I'm pro-marriage, inasmuch as I was raised in a more-or-less traditional environment and am more-or-less traditional myself.

Looking at Dreier's voting record, he might be borderline. Then again, I can think of plenty of extenuating circumstances--being a principled libertarian, say, or feeling committed to represent his constituent's views fully as a matter of principle. If he was Jesse Helms, now, that'd be different.

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