The joy of my world is Mark Kleiman (Beautiful, beatiful Kleiman)

by Ted on September 2, 2004

I just wanted to be part of the Allelujah chorus on this:

Atrios reports gleefully that a Republican Congressman, asked point-blank about his sexual orientation, refused to answer.

Good for him! (The congressman, I mean.) The right answer to that question, from anyone except a potential sexual partner, is “None of your f—-ing business.”

I really, really disapprove of gay-baiting, even if the gays being baited hold disgusting political positions. And I thought that attitude was part of the definition of liberalism.

When did that change? Did I miss the memo?

{ 40 comments }

1

Keith 09.02.04 at 8:11 pm

If the Republicans are going to make sexuality a platform issue, than their sexual orientation becomes part of the defacto argument. I am all for outing every gay and bi politician, especially the republican ones. It will sink their anti-gay amaendment forever, once the public sees how the gay republicans ar ebeing closetted by their fundamentalist party members.

2

jdw 09.02.04 at 8:16 pm

_ I am all for outing every gay and bi politician, especially the republican ones. It will sink their anti-gay amaendment forever, once the public sees how the gay republicans ar ebeing closetted by their fundamentalist party members._

Or, the closeted vitriol-spewing gay Republicans will be replaced with vitriol-spewing hetero Republicans. Given the choice between a hypocritical fundy and a perfectly genuine fundy, I’ll take the hypocrite as being less dangerous.

3

Ted Barlow 09.02.04 at 8:29 pm

There was a short-lived rumor that the White House was going to punish Richard Clarke for speaking out by outing him. (I hasten to add that, by any reasonable standard, they didn’t do this. I don’t have any idea about Clarke’s sexual orientation.)

If the White House had outed him, it would have been very, very wrong. It’s not because they would have done a good thing for the wrong reason. It’s because it’s wrong to punish people you don’t like by outing them. It’s irrelevant and hurtful, and an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

We are beating the anti-gay bigots. We will win in the end. But if the strategy depends on finding and outing all the gays, it’s not going to work; there’s just not the numbers out there.

4

Jeffrey 09.02.04 at 8:34 pm

I was walkin’ down the street, looking at boobs, asses, faces
Went in the Salvation Army for some used glasses cases
Next to the doorway
The cashier in cashmere held up an old map of Norway
She flipped it over and the message read, “You’re gay”

5

Ted Barlow 09.02.04 at 8:40 pm

Jeffrey,

I was hoping someone would get it.

6

jen h. 09.02.04 at 8:43 pm

I agree with Keith. If limiting the rights of gays is part of your political platform, your sexuality becomes politics.

Besides, if a politician’s sexuality really is “None of your f—-ing business,” then why do politicians pull their (hetero) family members up on stage with them, or offer them up constantly for photo ops? Why do they refer to themselves as devoted husband or wife of X amount of years? Why do they get their spouses to make speeches or give interviews on their behalf?

Oh, I see. It’s only “None of your f—-ing business” when it’s a political liability, i.e. when the politician is gay or lesbian, or breaking their marriage vows.

7

bob mcmanus 09.02.04 at 9:01 pm

“(I hasten to add that, by any reasonable standard, they didn’t do this. I don’t have any idea about Clarke’s sexual orientation.)”

I don’t quite understand this. There was a leak to Wolf Blitzer, who on the air mentioned something like “questions about Clarke’s personal behavior.” Wolf got in trouble, the leaker would not recommitt or reconfirm, so Wolf had to backtrack. But the job got done, with adequate deniability.

8

David Yaseen 09.02.04 at 9:09 pm

If a politician from a culturally conservative district has horrible environmental policies, say, and you out him, that’s reprehensible because you’re using antigay bigotry for your political ends. It’s also hypocritical.

Pointing out that a rabidly antigay politician is himself homosexual is a different kettle of fish, I think. As a thought experiment, would there be anything wrong in pointing out that a staunch prohibitionist was an alcoholic?

9

Kimmitt 09.02.04 at 9:09 pm

I’d say that if you make the repression of gays part of your political philosophy and platform, your sexuality becomes part of the discussion.

10

Ted Barlow 09.02.04 at 9:21 pm

Bob,

We’ve both seen the “slime and defend” machine at work. When they want a story out there, it gets out.

Wolf Blitzer saying, once, that there was something about Clarke’s personal behavior really doesn’t count. If I was watching that and didn’t read Wonkette, I’d have no idea what Blitzer was talking about. It was inappropriate, but

Jen,

I don’t object to politicians seeking popularity by pointing to their families. I also don’t object to the rare, brave politicians who are open about their homosexuality. Speaking about it is their choice; it isn’t Michelangelo Signorele’s, or mine, or yours. It’s a damn shame that homosexuality is a disqualification in most of the country, but that’s the world we live in, and the world we have to change.

11

rea 09.02.04 at 9:25 pm

“I’d say that if you make the repression of gays part of your political philosophy and platform, your sexuality becomes part of the discussion.”

Exactly. After all, the Rick Santorums of the world think MY sexual orientation is their business–why should theirs be treated differently?

12

Mark Barton 09.02.04 at 9:36 pm

I’m with those who think it’s a no-brainer that legislators who hypocritically support anti-gay legislation forfeit their right to privacy about their sexual orientation. However I suggest the more interesting question is how far down the food-chain this should extent. I gather there may be some outings of senior aides in the works, and I’m not sure I support that.

13

Steve 09.02.04 at 9:37 pm

I’d say that if you make the repression of gays part of your political philosophy and platform, your sexuality becomes part of the discussion.

I wholeheartedly agree. It’s not about sexuality–it’s about blind, stinking hypocrisy.

14

y81 09.02.04 at 9:40 pm

It would appear that cultural norm advocated and (I presume) observed by Messrs. Kleiman and Barlow has too many dissenters to be enforceable, and must be abandoned. This is one of those areas where a relatively small minority can impose its views on an unwilling majority.

15

David Ehrenstein 09.02.04 at 9:49 pm

Ted, Ted, Ted. You’re completely missing the point. The closet is OVER. The Supremes overturned sodomy statutes nationwide, thus gays and lesbians are neutral before the law — no ipso facto criminal as before.

So the Cheneys can just take the revolving door off Mary’s closet (“Out” when she shilled for Coors, “In” when Daddy’s running for veep)
and you should take a Chill Pill.

Here I am with cinematic genius — and Kerry supporter — Todd Haynes Like me, Todd has never been shy about what Cole Porter called “the urge to merge with a splurge.”

And neither should anyne with guts and fortitude!

16

David Ehrenstein 09.02.04 at 9:51 pm

Ted, Ted, Ted. You’re completely missing the point. The closet is OVER. The Supremes overturned sodomy statutes nationwide, thus gays and lesbians are neutral before the law — no ipso facto criminal as before.

So the Cheneys can just take the revolving door off Mary’s closet (“Out” when she shilled for Coors, “In” when Daddy’s running for veep)
and you should take a Chill Pill.

Here I am with cinematic genius — and Kerry supporter — Todd Haynes Like me, Todd has never been shy about what Cole Porter called “the urge to merge with a splurge.”

And neither should anyne with guts and fortitude!

17

Brett Bellmore 09.02.04 at 10:32 pm

Hey, that’s clever… Yes, let’s replace all the hypocritical anti-homosexual legislators with sincere anti-homosexual legislators.

18

kevin donoghue 09.02.04 at 11:40 pm

“Did I miss the memo?”

9/11 changed everything.

Some of the comments on Atrios are sickening. It would appear that American liberalism has been mugged and is reacting as theory predicts. Combine that with the strange death of American conservatism (once characterised by fiscal responsibility and foreign policy realism) and it all looks quite scary.

19

David Ehrenstein 09.03.04 at 12:08 am

“It would appear that American liberalism has been mugged and is reacting as theory predicts. “

Whose “theory”?

20

Shelby 09.03.04 at 12:14 am

What if the politician in question does not use his/her office against gays? If you don’t like Republicans, is it OK to out those who are friendly to gays? What if they’re neutral? Are the answers the same if it’s a Democrat?

As far as I’m concerned, unless they’ve specifically made it an issue, this tactic has no place in MY political discourse.

21

Kimmitt 09.03.04 at 12:48 am

The old saw that “A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, and a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested.”

22

David Ehrenstein 09.03.04 at 12:59 am

Obviously there’s something about gayness you find unacceptable under any circumstances, shelby.

23

Steve Reuland 09.03.04 at 4:43 am

If a politician’s sexuality is “None of your f—-ing business,” then the sexuality of the citizenry is none of the politicians’ f—ing business. However, according to the Republicans, the sexuality of the citizenry is their f—ing business. It matters what your sexuality is whether or not two people can marry. It matters what your sexuality is whether or not you can have intercourse (c.f., Rick Santorum et alia comments concerning SCOTUS striking down the Texas sodomy law.) And among the more radical religious right, your sexuality determines whether or not you have any of the freedoms the rest of us take for granted.

The sexuality of Republicans will cease to be an issue to us just as soon as our sexuality ceases to be an issue to them. They are not above the law or higher and mightier than any other citizen, they are subject to the same discrimanatory policies they would impose on us. If they don’t like being put on the spot for being gay, then they can jolly well drop their anti-gay platform. Only then will it truly be nobody’s f—ing business.

24

Snowball 09.03.04 at 4:56 am

I think Ted is right.

On the issue of hypocrisy, why is a gay politician obligated to support all points on the gay rights agenda, if they are to avoid being hypocrites?

For example, a gay politician might have no intention or desire to become married, and even consider gay marriage to be a potentially socially disruptive institution, and so there would be no hypocrisy involved in that politician opposing gay marriage.

I think that you’re fooling yourself if you believe that the political damage done by outing closeted gay politicians who fail to follow the gay rights agenda is the result of them being revealed as hypocrites.

The damage done to them is the result of them being revealed as fags.

Outing is a tactic that exploits bigotry to further a supposedly anti-bigotry agenda. It colludes with what it aims to oppose.

Personally, I am strongly in favour of equal gay rights. But I don’t think I’m entitled to the support of a politician on these issues just because they’re gay. Actually, it seems to me that recognising that a gay politician is entitled to adopt positions that are obnoxious to me without thereby losing their right to privacy is PART of a full recognition of the equal rights of gay people.

If anyone is open to the charge of hypocrisy, it is those who use outing as a tactic in aid of advancing gay rights.

25

Brett Bellmore 09.03.04 at 11:08 am

“It matters what your sexuality is whether or not two people can marry.”

Not really; They won’t let two straight men, or two straight women, marry either. Seriously. That may not be a very satisfactory state of affairs for two men who want to marry, whatever their sexual preferences, but it’s not legal discrimination. Don’t confuse equality with liberty; It’s perfectly possible for us to be all equally oppressed.

26

Brett Bellmore 09.03.04 at 11:18 am

And, by the way, the point isn’t pure snark; Homosexual activists are NOT seeking legal equality. Why do I say this? Because they’re NOT standing up for the principle that anyone who wants to marry should be permitted to. In fact, they’ve specifically disavowed any such support. Rather, they’ve simply asked to have their prefered form added to the officially sanctioned forms of marriage, and told the incestuous and polyamorous to go pound sand.

They don’t want to extend liberty in a principled, equal fashion, in other words, but only to be added to the list of the privileged.

27

David Ehrenstein 09.03.04 at 3:14 pm

“Personally, I am strongly in favour of equal gay rights.”

Oh I am just SO impressed!

28

Ted Barlow 09.03.04 at 4:59 pm

David,

You wrote:

“Obviously there’s something about gayness you find unacceptable under any circumstances, shelby.”

You and your arguments are very welcome here, but I’m quite sure that Shelby didn’t deserve that.

29

David Ehrenstein 09.03.04 at 7:45 pm

He most assuredly deserved it!

Either you find gayness acceptable or you don’t. If you do then you’re not ashamed of it in yourself, or feel it’s a detriment to others.

Lying about who you are is most definitely detrimental. And finding such lies acceptable behavior for those who would attack non-liars is quite simple heinous.

30

Atrios 09.03.04 at 11:18 pm

Do you get upset when people ask you if you’re gay? I don’t.

31

seth edenbaum 09.04.04 at 2:13 am

Two points: Dreier came out against the marriage ammendment, so he’s not an absolute schmuck. And the question came up in the context of an interview on Michelangelo Signorile’s radio show! J. Fucking Christ! You think he’s not going to ask that question!
Fair ball!

Kleiman is a pompous ass. “Beautiful, Beautiful….” eesshh.

But of course David Ehrenstein would not allow anyone their own confusion, under any circumstances. There is no private life.
Stop hiding your insecurities behind a mask of bitchy moralism… dear.
You’re the kind of self hating faggot I can’t stand.

Atrios was calm, and he was correct.

32

se 09.04.04 at 3:24 am

There’s a difference between questioning someone’s decision, and removing from them the option to make it.
Drier put himself on the stand. And that changes everything. I think Atrios would agree, but maybe not.

33

snowball 09.04.04 at 6:37 am

David,

I wasn’t trying to impress you. I was making the argument that, if you feel as I do that gay people should have the same rights as straight people, then you ought to respect their right to be wrong in your judgement. Blackmailing them with the threat of making public what really is their private business in an attempt to gain their compliance, or out of pure vindictiveness, looks like a morally contradictory tactic. By outing socially conservative gay politicians, you are aiming to advance the cause of gay rights by violating the privacy, and failing to respect the political freedom, of gay people. You are allowing your (understandable) antipathy towards conservative, closeted gays to blind you to this contradiction.

Do you have a response to this argument, aside from sarcasm?

34

David Ehrenstein 09.04.04 at 2:55 pm

Do you have a response other that blithering idiocy?

I the sexual orientation of a heterosexual a “private matter”?

Answer!

35

David Ehrenstein 09.04.04 at 4:00 pm

Do you have a response other than blithering idiocy?

Is the sexual orientation of a heterosexual a “private matter”?

Answer!

36

trilby 09.04.04 at 4:45 pm

If a closeted-gay politician is vociferously anti-gay and supports anti-gay legislation, I think it’s permissible to out him. Otherwise, I agree with Kleiman on this one: None of your fucking business.

37

Steve 09.04.04 at 4:54 pm

By outing socially conservative gay politicians, you are aiming to advance the cause of gay rights by violating the privacy, and failing to respect the political freedom, of gay people.

There were a hell of a lot of “socially conservative” political figures here in the US who very loudly decried the Supreme Court decision striking down sodomy laws. That is, they were defending the right of the government to arrest people in their homes for adult, consensual sexual activity.

Now, if it turns out that one of said socially conservative figures is, at the same time they’re lamenting the demise of sodomy laws, getting it on in public restrooms or trolling for sex on the net, we should refrain from exposing them out of concern for their privacy?

Sorry, Snowball. I find that utterly bewildering.

38

amberglow 09.05.04 at 12:12 am

…Dreier came out against the marriage ammendment, so he’s not an absolute schmuck.

He was lying. He voted FOR the amendment.

39

David Ehrenstein 09.05.04 at 12:37 am

Snowball, would a Jew voting for Hitler be considered “a private matter”?

40

Michael 09.05.04 at 7:38 pm

There are three issues being conflated here: sexuality, sexual behavior, and solidarity.

Kleiman et al. appear to argue that sexuality should be a private matter in certain cases. Why then are they not disturbed by the way heterosexual politicians (not to mention millions of others) “flaunt” their offspring, their wives and husbands, their wedding rings?

Sexuality is patentaly NOT a private matter – except somehow when it’s HOMOsexuality? I don’t think so. Religion, art, and the media have us all “soaking in it,” to paraphrase Madge.

Please don’t confuse sexuality with sexual acts, which are indeed private. You have no more idea what I do in the bedroom, knowing that I am gay, than I know what YOU do. (Hint: After twelve years in a relationship, the answer might be — not a whole lot!!! :)

When straight people hide their sexuality, I’ll consider hiding mine, too. In the meantime, the issue isn’t privacy – it is freedom and equality – as Michelangelo Signorile persuasively argued in his first book over ten years ago.

However, given that gay people are at risk in our society, progressive people have an obligation to practice sensitivity and solidarity with gay people who are closeted. This is true even in liberal Cambridge, where I had my landlords tred to rent my apartment out from underneath me when they discovered I was gay, in 1988.

Closeted anti-gay politicians, however, have forfeited any claim on our solidarity and sensitivity.

Bottom line: Atrios had it right. Especially when he said that he is not disturbed if someone asks if he is gay.

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