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    October 28, 2006

    Moving forward fairly

    Posted by: Chris

    Patricksammon_1 Interim Log Cabin director Patrick Sammon (pictured) has written an interesting essay, called  "Moving Forward," about the Mark Foley mess. He ably takes on anti-gay conservatives who've cynically tried to turn Foley misconduct on its head to disparage gays in general, or to purge gays from the GOP.  But Sammon misses the opportunity to "move forward" fairly. He writes:

    We support efforts to have an outside investigation to thoroughly examine Foley's wrongdoings and the Congressional leadership's response.  It's important to find out if Congressional leaders responded appropriately to his behavior.  It's also critical to find out if Democrats held onto information about Foley in an effort to use as it as a political tool as the election approaches.

    Fair enough, but what about gay Republican staffers who may have "held onto information about Foley" for partisan political reasons, though as a shield to protect rather than as a sword to do damage.  Conservative gay bloggers, including those over at Gay Patriot, have also focused inordinantly on what Democrats, including gay Democrats, may have known about Foley's misconduct, while expending none of the same energy pressing for inquiry into what gay Republicans on the Hill knew and when they knew it.

    One gay Republican who knows a lot about what it's like to be closeted and working on the Hill showed a bit more courage.  Brian O'Leary Bennett made headlines in the late '90s after he came out following a long career working for archconservative former congressman Bob "lesbian spearchucker" Dornan. In an essay for Newsweek, Bennett gently pushes gay Hill Republicans still in the closet to take a step out:

    I hope a war of introspection and decision is being waged within the minds of my gay GOP brethren who now live fearfully in the closet. Is it really worth it? At some point, you will have to own up to who you are. Or like Foley, former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey and others who walked the razor's edge, you too will slip, fall, and do incalculable damage along the way.  I don't care what office you hold. It screws with your head. It's not worth it. How you must long for peace of mind. I remember.

    Good for Bennett.  If we can all agree — Bennett, Log Cabin, Gay Patriot, me — that outing gay Republicans on the Hill is not the way to go, then isn't it each of our responsibility to say what we can to convince them to take the step on their own?

    What's more, Bennett is willing to acknowledge what Log Cabin and Gay Patriot won't, that gay Republicans on the Hill may well have been formed a "thin pink line" (my words, not his) to protect Foley and each other:

    [Just] because all Republican officeholders have hired gay staffers does not mean there's some kind of gay mafia at work. This notion that a sinister cabal closes ranks and protects one another at all costs based on sexual orientation is noxious and homophobic. Right or wrong, people act to protect one another out of friendship. It’s funny how we never hear a word about that “hetero mafia” protecting the even longer list of philandering, college-girl skirt-chasing straight members of Congress.

    Bennett is defending their motives, but at the same time he is acknowledging these gay Hill Republicans probably "acted to protect one another out of friendship."  Friendship or politics, if it happened it showed poor judgment, at least as much as Democrats who may or may not have sat on Foley's e-mails for maximum political exposure.

    If we're to move forward, let's do so fairly.



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