A rumor -- apparently denied -- that possible (likely?) Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is gay set the White House on a "scorched earth" attack on CBS News, where the rumor was reported in a blog. The reaction in the left-wing blogosphere has been equally hysterical.
A few key points.
First, the left has a long history of outing (allegedly) gay Republicans. One of the leading left-wing bloggers, John Aravosis, who runs AmericaBlog, made his name by outing Republicans, including defending attempts to force then RNC Chair Ken Melman to declare whether he was gay (I have no idea if he was, and I don't care). The film Outrage attempted to out conservatives who it alleged were gay. When it suited their purposes, bloggers like Aravosis did not hesitate to spread rumors that Condoleezza Rice was gay.
The hypocrisy of the left on the subject of outing never ceases to amaze.
Second, a general policy against "outing" creates a tension where the person is being nominated to the highest court in the land with a lifetime appointment. The issue is not sexual preference, but the public's right to know who the person is. We would not hesitate to demand disclosure of the name and biography of a spouse or heterosexual "significant other" to see if there were any potential issues or conflicts which would affect the nomination process. Should the standard be any different for Elena Kagan?
Third, it is curious that those objecting to the Kagan rumor seem to treat an accusation of being gay as a slur. One John Aravosis notes the irony and says he is neutral as to whether such reaction by the White House and other Democrats reflects homophobia.
I don't know if I would support Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. I'll wait to learn more about her. If she's gay, so be it, but I will not treat that fact or rumor as a slur. And I'll hold her to the same level of disclosure of personal relationships that we would expect of any other nominee.
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