The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Impersonal responsibility

OP/ED
 Impersonal responsibility
Impersonal responsibility

Impersonal responsibility

Two weeks ago, Virginia Rep. Edward L. Schrock abruptlyannounced that he would not seek a third term amid allegations thathe is gay.  Last week, blogActive.com officially outedCalifornia Rep. David Dreier.

What makes these two events newsworthy is not the fact that thepoliticians are gay, nor that they have been leading secret lives,but that their congressional voting records on gay rights are amongthe worst in Congress.

The reason, of course, is simple:  to conceal theirsexuality, they voted against any measure that would favor orpromote gay rights.  The only difference between the twocongressmen, it appears, is that Schrock was married, and Dreierwas single, although it now seems that Dreier has been involved ina secret relationship with his chief of staff.

Outing is nothing new in the world of politics.  Groupssuch as Queer Nation — and other equally radical gay rightsgroups — have been outing politicians for years.  In thepre-blog days of mainstream-only news outlets, however, no oneseemed to listen, or no one was printing, a phenomenon that veterangay journalist Michaelangelo Signorile raised in his book Queerin America: The Closets of Power.

According to Signorile, who is a contributing writer for TheAdvocate, one of the nation’s oldest and largest gaynewsmagazines, major news outlets have conspired with Washington tokeep politicians in the closet, a notion that seems to be supportedby the fact that none of the newspapers in Rep. Dreier’sdistrict, all owned by the MediaNews Group, has reported on thestory.

In his book, Signorile documents several examples of pressreleases and news conferences that failed to make it topress.  Considering the salacious and almost commonplacecontent of today’s headlines, it is hard to understand whythe media would sit on such enticing stories, but Signorile laysout a good case to support the conspiracy theory, not only in thepolitical arena, but also in professional sports andentertainment.

The ethics of outing have evolved over the last decade.  Atone time, most gay groups criticized the practice as radical andcounterproductive.  However, as the nascent gay rightsmovement has matured, those groups that once condemned the practicehave given tacit approval to the slew of political outings nowhappening.

While many would agree that in today’s live-and-let-liveworld of reality marriage and mate-swapping shows, a person’sprivate life is his own business, in the case of the politicianslike Schrock and Dreier there exists an irreconcilable disconnectbetween their private lives and their voting records.

Typically, politicians who are outed are vocal opponents ofmeasures that would benefit their gay and lesbian constituents,while their voting records on gay issues are among the worst inCongress. And many, as in the case of Schrock and Dreier, areRepublicans who draw from a very conservative base, includingevangelical Christians.

In short, the public persona and the private individual are asincompatible as Bush and Kerry.  Just imagine if George Bush,after bashing John Kerry every day in the press, turned around andvoted for him on Election Day.

Beyond the hypocrisy and deception — both common traits inthe win-at-all-cost world of politics — there is somethingparticularly unforgivable about these politicians’duplicity.

In a September 1, 2004 article entitled, “Spare us thenext outing,” Daily Press columnist Wil LaVeist muses,”Which politician will be next?” He goes on to arguethat “what people do on their own time and with whom is theirbusiness.”

In short, he blames a “few gay radicals” forconducting what he calls a “witch hunt.” 

On that issue, the facts and LaVeist part company.  Witchhunts were pogroms of religious hysteria carried out againstinnocents who were accused of making pacts with the devil. Outings are defensible maneuvers carried out to expose thehypocrisy of those who make pacts with religious fanatics forself-serving reasons.

According to Michael Rogers, editor of blogActive, there aremany more outings in the works. Whether the mainstream media outsthe outings is less certain.

 

George Henson is a lecturer of Spanish. He may be contactedat [email protected].

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