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  • March 14, 2010

    When comedy can't imitate life

    Posted by: Chris

    Eric massa saturday night live tickle fight
    The abrupt resignation of New York Congressman Eric Massa seemed ideal for a SNL send-up, replete with stories of naked shower chats with Rahm Emanuel, tickle fights with his all-bachelor flatmates, self-described "Caligula orgies" naval initiations, and -- of course -- the allegations of "snorkeling" his fellow sailors.

    Possibly for that very reason, or because it's more painful than humorous to watch the slow-motion trainwreck that is Massa's career and personal life, the skit that opened last night's SNL was among the least funny I can recall.

    Anyone want to wager how long it takes Republicans to capitalize on Massa's Navy hijinks as an example of why lifting the ban on service by openly gay service members can undermine unit cohesion?

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    January 29, 2009

    Should we 'Stand By Our Sam'?

    Posted by: Chris


    The sleazy scandal enveloping the openly gay mayor of Portland, who admits he lied about having sex with a teenage legislative intern, has descended into the absurd, now that Sam Adams has made clear he has no intention of resigning. Consider the opening graphs of Time magazine's report:

    The cast of the scandal in Portland, Ore., has a certain ring to it: Sam Adams. Bob Ball. Beau Breedlove and his dog Lolita ... "Everyone has porn names!" says Mark Wiener with a laugh. "Until yesterday, it had never occurred to me that the worst offending name was mine." Wiener (pronounced Wee-ner) is one of Oregon's most influential political consultants and a former — and now disheartened — campaign adviser to the protagonist in this political soap opera.

    That would be Sam Adams, the new mayor of Portland and the first openly gay man to lead a major American city. Then there's Bob Ball, an openly gay local real estate developer who once had mayoral ambitions himself. In 2007, Ball hinted that Adams' mentoring relationship with a former legislative intern, Beau Breedlove (now 21), was, in fact, a sexual one that had begun when the young man was just 17.

    SamadamsvertI commented earlier on the lack of glee in the usual quarters of the gay blogosphere about such scandals, mainly because Adams is out and a Democrat. But some, including one of the usual worst offenders -- the Stranger's Dan Savage -- are actually campaigning for Adams to stay in office.

    The Facebook group launched to support Adams makes their case this way:

    Sam Adams was impolitic when he decided to have a sexual relationship with an 18 year-old. He made a mistake when he lied about the relationship to the public. But, this mistake does not warrant a witch hunt, a public investigation, or calling for the resignation of a committed public servant.

    Don't we have more important issues to deal with in Portland when Oregon has a 9% unemployment rate and the future of our schools is in jeopardy?

    If you have ever had a relationship that you later felt was a mistake, don't be one of those throwing the first stone. Support Sam Adams!

    BeaubreedlovevertLet's break that down. Adams, then 42, was "impolitic" in having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old? Actually, Breedlove was only 17 when they met and first kissed -- once in Adams' car and once in a City Hall men's room.

    Adams insists he waited until Breedlove was 18 for their first sexual contact, but he has lied so many times about so many other details concerning this relationship. Why should he be believed on this point, especially when his motive to lie would be so powerful -- the age of consent in Oregon is 18.

    He "made a mistake when he lied about the relationship"? He did more than lie; back in 2007, he labeled the accusation a "nasty smear" and posted an "open letter to Portlanders" that, ironically enough, is still available on his website:

    Dear Portlander,

    As you have probably seen in the media, I have been the target of a nasty smear by a would-be political opponent. I will not dignify the substance of this smear by repeating it - if you read the accounts you will see there is no foundation to it. The reason is simple: it is untrue.

    This kind of ugly politicking may be commonplace in other cities and at the national level, but Portland and Oregon largely has been blessedly free of it. It saddens me that it has been introduced here, and I have faith that Portlanders' rejection of it will mean that this incident is an anomaly.

    About this attempted smear, here is what I want to say.

    I have in the past, and I will in the future, respond to people who reach out to me for help and advice. This is especially true when it comes to young people.

    Growing up in Newport and Eugene, Oregon I remember when I was a teenager and I had nobody who I felt I could talk to at a time I desperately needed someone to give me advice and perspective about coming to terms with being gay. I came through it. Not everyone does.

    Gay youth suicide rates, homelessness and depression are still too high. And adequate services have been lacking: Reasons why I co-founded Portland's Q Center, served on the Boards of Cascade AIDS Project, Basic Right Oregon and lobbied the state legislature in support of statewide non-discrimination laws.

    I didn't get into public life to allow my instinct to help others to be snuffed out by fear of sleazy misrepresentations or political manipulation. I understand the need for good judgment, and I keep within the bounds of propriety -- as I did in this case.

    I'm glad that people consider me as a person they could come to for help, understanding and support. I work at it. And I hope that you do too. Local programs needing mentors have long waiting lists.

    Now, even if we are to believe Adams' latest version of events, we know that his idea of "propriety" was not violating the law itself. Like Mark Foley before him, Adams abused the trust and responsibility that comes with mentoring vulnerable younger men, where the balance of power is so obviously lopsided.

    Adams' open letter makes clear that he recognized that responsibility, even as he shirked it and lied about it openly and repeatedly. He's even lied a number of times since going public with his admission, acknowledging additional facts about the nature of the relationship only as the facts compelled him to do so.

    I don't see how he recovers the public's trust at this point, and there is absolutely no way for him to repair the damage he's done to the image of gay men generally.

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    January 22, 2009

    No glee in Gayville -- or Portland

    Posted by: Chris

    Samadamsvert Lost in all the inauguration hoopla was the ugly sex scandal involving Portland Mayor Sam Adams, the only openly gay candidate to ever win that office in America's 30 largest cities. Yet despite obvious comparisons to the Mark Foley scandal back in 2006, there's no comparable glee in Gayville, especially the blogosphere.

    In the weeks leading up to his election last November, Adams dismissed rumors of a past sexual relationship with Beau Breedlove, then 17 and other the legal age of consent, back in 2005. Adams insisted he had merely mentored the teen, and labeled the accusation -- made by another gay man who was then considering a mayoral run -- as an ugly smear of the type that discourages gay men from running for office.

    Now, months after Adams' landslide election win, a local paper confirmed the story about the relationship and Adams has admitted that he lied to the public, and had convinced Breedlove to lie as well. Now he's admitting that even the claim of a mentoring relationship was a lie:

    Breedlove asked Adams for advice on being gay in the political arena, but Adams now says that was originally a pretext for meeting.

    "There was no proposition, but I felt there was some interest," Adams said of their initial meetings. "Part of the lie was to play up the mentoring." …

    On Monday, Adams admitted that he and Breedlove had sex several times in the summer of 2005 -- a few weeks after Breedlove reached the age of legal consent. Adams said he lied about the relationship and asked Breedlove to lie because he didn't think voters would believe they waited until after the young man's birthday to become intimate.

    A criminal investigation is now underway, and calls for Adams to resign have mounted, including from Just Out, Portland's gay newspaper, and it seems he may be leaning in that direction.

    The comparisons to "Foley-gate" are obvious: A gay male politician approached by an underage teen for mentoring instead abuses that relationship by soliciting sex, except that Adams admits that actual sex took place.

    There are differences, of course, since Foley's teenage targets were participants in the congressional page program. But no difference is more important to the reaction the scandals are receiving than the poltiical affiliation -- Adams is a Democrat, Foley is a Republican -- and the closet -- Adams is out, Foley was not.

    Nothing excites the gay blogosphere more than sexual hypocrisy, but party affiliation and closetedness are key ingredients in inciting the glee and self-righteous indignation we have seen so many times over the years. Even though Adams' abuse of his position and status -- in the community in general and the gay community in general -- is comparable to Foley and others, the reaction is markedly different in his case.

    Without the closet and/or the alleged self-loathing of gay conservatives to blame for the misbehavior, where's the fun in all of it?

    Where's the fun, indeed. Adams' scandal is deeply disappointing. Whatever you think about age-of-consent laws like Oregon's that deprive even 17-year-olds of making decisions about sex, a relationship between a 42-year-old and a 17-year-old is grossly inappropriate -- and just plain gross, especially so when the 42-year-old is in a position of political prominence.

    Of course straight politicians engage in sexual misbehavior all the time. But don't gay men in public office understand and accept the extra burden and responsibility they have to meet an even higher standard, given how few have gone before? To that extent, Sam Adams' betrayal as an out gay politician is much more disappointing than Foley's.

    Openly gay politicians like Adams should absolutely know better than to come anywhere close to an age-inappropriate relationship, given the ugly stereotypes still out there about gay men as sexual predators. If Adams is to be believed, and he has lied so many times already, he at least waited until Breedlove was 18. That's cold comfort, when he could have so easily steered clear entirely from the situation.

    Then Adams lied about the relationship publicly and repeatedly, and pressured the youth to lie as well.

    Should Adams resign? I think so, yes. Do you agree?

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    March 14, 2008

    Who'll be the next Spitzer?

    Posted by: Andoni

    Hilllaryhallway By now everyone is familiar with the fact that New York Gov. Eliot "€get tough on prostitution rings"€™ Spitzer was actually patronizing one himself. We remember Ted Haggard railing against homosexuality and homosexual acts, only to discover that he himself was hiring homosexual prostitutes and engaging in homosexual acts on the side.

    Today we learn in the New York Times that one of China’s leading anti-drinking crusaders, Guo Shizhong, mayor of Xinyang, died -- you guessed it -- in a bar drinking alcohol. Yesterday Chris noted that Oklahoma state senator Sally Kern, with all her anti-gay ranting, may have a gay son.

    What's going on with these public figures who go on crusades against what they consider evils or inappropriate conduct in others when they themselves are participating in the same conduct? Freud called this type of behavior "reaction formation." It's a defense mechanism caused by inner anxiety from doing something we think or have been taught is wrong, which is then balanced or defeated by lashing out externally at the very thing that is causing discomfort.

    We can each point to countless past examples of this phenomenon at work. But what about those currently in the limelight, but whose hypocrisy remains hidden? Is anyone who goes out of his way to condemn conduct in others justifiably suspect for that very activity? It's a fair bet for a good percentage of these crusaders.

    Consider the three finalists in the presidential race: John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. What do these people crusade about most often -- and does that hint about what they may be compensating for internally?

    Mccainhandskae For McCain, the first thing that comes to mind is his very aggressive opposition to lobbyists and special interests. And yet his campaign is being run by lobbyists. Is his strong stance against lobbyists a reaction formation to his heavy reliance on them? Could he be in bed with them more than we know?

    Senator Clinton never forgets to tell us she has 35 years of experience and will be ready to make those tough decisions on Day One, lashing out at Obama for not being ready . Could it be that she is really covering for her own insecurity about lacking much firsthand experience. Is she compensating for this internal unease?

    I'€™m not sure I can think of any examples of where Senator Obama goes overboard crusading for something. I need your help on that one. Any suggestions?

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    March 13, 2008

    Sex-scandal styling?

    Posted by: Chris

    Spitzermcgreevey A blog hosted by the Dallas Morning News has taken note of the striking style similarities at the resignation press conferences of, on the one hand, New Jersey's James "Luv Guv" McGreevey and his wife Dina and, on the other hand, New York's Eliot "Pay for Luv Guv" Spitzer and his wife Silda:

    Both Spitzer and McGreevey are wearing dark suits, white shirts and red-and-white-striped neckties. Both men's wives are wearing uniforms of blue-ish-gray-hued suits and pearl necklaces.

    Is there a stylist out there dressing political couple's in crisis?

    Via Poltico's Ben Smith

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    March 11, 2008

    Notes on a Spitzer scandal

    Posted by: Chris

    Patersonspitzer Thanks to Andoni for his rapid post yesterday confirming that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's would-be replacement, Lt. Gov. David Paterson, is also a strong supporter of marriage equality legislation. The Advocate has posted a background piece by Kerry Eleveld that provides a bit more background, including this concerning Paterson's past:

    Paterson has been on record in support of marriage equality as early as 1994. When Paterson was asked if he would take part in pushing through the marriage bill following his inauguration in January 2007, he told the New York Blade, “I’m not going to be in that fight -- I’m going to be in front of that fight because my first day as [senate minority leader] was the day we passed the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. One of the reasons we need same-sex marriage is because the statistics for heterosexual marriage are so bad; that might be a way to upgrade some of the success rates.”

    As a bonus, Paterson, who is African American and legally blind, is a former Senate Minority Leader with strong ties to legislators from both parties and will operate with a deep reservoir of goodwill that Spitzner never had.

    Newsomelesbianwedding On the other hand, it is deeply disappointing to see perhaps the leading heterosexual gay marriage advocate nationwide admit to misconduct that relates directly to his own marriage. Spitzer's scandal follows on the heels of Gavin Newsome, the handsome San Francisco mayor who defiantly married gay couples in the spring of 2004, before admitting last year to an extramarital affair with the wife of his deputy chief of staff that resulted in divorces all the way around.

    Of course there's no shortage of infidelity and marital disrespect from many of those most vocal against gay marriage, from Defense of Marriage Act lead sponsor Bob Barr, a thrice-married former Georgia congressman, to presumptive GOP presidential John McCain, who backed Arizona's draconian anti-marriage, anti-civil union and anti-D.P. ballot measure despite a personal history of having dumped his injured first wife in favor of current wife Cindy McCain, who he married one month after his divorce.

    Then there's David Vitter, the Republican senator from Louisiana with a rotten gay rights record who got caught up in the D.C. Madam scandal, admitting that he hired prostitutes in D.C. -- just as Spitzer did. After Vitter's public apology to his wife and constituents, he was greeted with a standing ovation in a private session with the GOP congressional caucus. After Spitzer apologized yesterday to his family and constituents, he was greeted by a demand for his resignation by the Republican Governor's Association and and an impeachment threat from the state GOP leaders.

    Sounds eerily like the whole Clinton-Lewinsky mess, doesn't it? Spitzer is, by the way a Hillary backer and superdelegate who has said he will vote for her. Thus far she has declined comment on the scandal, except to express concern … for Spitzer.

    One final note was the interview (closet case) Anderson Cooper did last night with Dina Matos McGreevey, estranged wife of New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, whose "I'm a gay American" press conference was eerily similar to Spitzer's somber statement yesterday. Like Spitzer's spouse, Matos McGreevey is a sympathetic figure, given the public humiliation they were both put through.

    But I don't agree with Cooper's observation that Silda Spitzer is now being subjected to "ridicule" like Matos McGreevey had been, mainly because Mrs. Spitzer managed to avoid the Stepford wife grin frozen on Matos McGreevey's face. And Matos McGreevey has stooped to the sewer every bit as much as her despicable husband during their incredibly nasty divorce litigation.


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    March 10, 2008

    Spitzer sabotaged same-sex marriage?

    Posted by: Andoni

    Spitzer I was immediately depressed at the news today that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught up in a prostitution ring, since he has been a rare champion of same-sex marriage and even introduced a gay marriage bill last year.

    The legislation has already passed the state Assembly  but died in the Republican-controlled Senate. The marriage equality bill was likely to pass after the November elections, especially since Democrats seemed poised to actually take the Senate. News of the scandal means all that is out the window now.

    I worried about this for about 10 full minutes before I contacted Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, to ask about David Paterson, New York’s lieutenant governor Spitzer's replacement should he resign.

    The good news is that Paterson also favors same-sex marriage and would sign marriage equality legislation if it reaches his desk. That was a tremendous relief.

    The bad news is that such legislation depends on Democrats taking back the state Senate, breaking the logjam that blocked Spitzer's gay marriage bill last year. The prospects for a Democratic takeover were good until now, but with this scandal who knows.

    Has Spitzer managed to sabotage gay marriage by disrespecting his own? Time will tell.

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    January 18, 2008

    The ACLU and 'public' sex

    Posted by: Chris

    Restroomstalls The American Civil Liberties Union kindly forwarded me the brief they filed in Larry Craig's lewd conduct appeal, after I posted about it a couple of times yesterday.

    Some confusion arose over the ACLU's position because an Associated Press account made it appear the venerable civil liberties lobby was arguing that sex in a bathroom stall is "private" and constitutionally protected. The ACLU later clarified that it was the Minnesota Supreme Court -- not the ACLU -- that had reached that fairly outrageous conclusion.

    Well, sort of. As I expected, the Minnesota Supreme Court never said that sex inside toilet stalls is covered by the U.S. Constitution's "right to privacy."  Instead, the court ruled in a 1970 case (State v. Bryant, 287 Minn. 205, 177 N.W.2d 800) that the police could not surreptitiously videotape bathroom stalls in a department from above to see if people were having sex.

    It is one thing to conclude, as the Minnesota court did back in 1970, that people have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in a bathroom stall -- meaning the government has to have their consent or "probable cause" before engaging in surveillance.  It is quite another to conclude that this "privacy" rises to such a level of constitutional protection that sexual conduct taking place there is protected from criminal prohibition.

    The ACLU knows the difference and nonetheless stretches the definition of "privacy" way beyond its original scope in a string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, leading up to the landmark Lawrence vs. Texas sodomy ruling.

    Remember that the prohibition against unreasonable searches and surveillance is explicit in the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, and the "right to privacy" at issue in Lawrence (and Roe vs. Wade) is "unenumerated" -- meaning judge-made. The ACLU does no one any favors by arguing for such an extreme extension of the right to privacy, especially when it was unnecessary in the case.

    The ACLU -- and Larry Craig, actually -- would be better off arguing that his non-verbal cues -- toe-tapping, hand-waving, etc. -- could not be read to communicate one way or another about where he wanted the sex to take place, assuming they could be read to communicate that he wanted sex at all.

    The really troubling police and prosecutorial abuses would be dealt a punishing blow if the courts rule that actual communication of intent to have sex in public -- which would include inside a bathroom stall. The rest is an overreach that risks what would be a real victory for civil liberties.

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    January 17, 2008

    Strike that, says the ACLU

    Posted by: Chris

    A sharp-eyed reader of The Citizen from Minneapolis noticed that the ACLU has issued a statement on its website disclaiming the AP story on which I based my earlier post. In particular, the ACLU says:

    The Minnesota Supreme Court and other courts have found that a closed bathroom stall is a private location. The police have no business spying on people in places where there is an expectation of privacy. The ACLU is in no way advocating sex in public bathrooms. If law enforcement is genuinely interested in stopping sex in public bathrooms rather than ensnaring people in sting operations, posting a sign prohibiting it and announcing police patrols would be much more effective and would meet constitutional requirements.

    The point here is that the Minnesota Supreme Court, not the ACLU, has ruled that a closed bathroom stall is a private location. Frankly, I'm not buying it, depending on the context of that earlier ruling -- I'm betting it was a case involving eavesdropping or surreptitious videotaping, not public sex. If so, then the ACLU is in fact arguing for an extension of that ruling to cover sex as well.

    I've asked the ACLU for a copy of the brief, which will hopefully clear the matter up.

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    Continue reading»

    What Larry Craig has wrought

    Posted by: Chris

    Larrycraigwalks The American Civil Liberties Union has jumped back into Larry Craig's "lewd conduct" case with an even more aggressive defense of toilet cruising than the last time around. How ironic if the anti-gay GOP senator's longest lasting influence on the law is to establish that sex inside toilet stalls is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

    The first time around, when Craig was trying to withdraw his guilty plea to challenge the constitutionality of his Minneapolis airport restroom arrest, the ACLU filed a brief arguing that the First Amendment protects "solicitation," so long as the act being solicited is constitutionally protected.

    So a man in a bar asking a woman (or, after Lawrence vs. Texas, another man) to go home and have sex with him would be protected by the First Amendment -- because sex inside the man's home is private and between consenting adults, and therefore constitutionally protected as well. Because Craig never spoke, the police can't prove that he was soliciting sex to take place in the airport, as opposed to some other, private location either at that time or some future date.

    This time around, as Larry Craig appeals his conviction, the ACLU appears to have extended that argument signficantly, to argue that public sex -- so long as it's "hidden" within a toilet stall -- is also constitutionally protected, meaning the solicitation of it is as well. "People who have sex in closed stalls in public restrooms 'have a reasonable expectation of privacy,'" the ACLU claimed.

    If the ACLU is right, then all the back and forth about Craig's toe-tapping and non-verbal "cues" is irrelevant. The Constitution would protect his right to speak out with a clear voice in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and say, "Would you like to come into my stall and have sex with me?"

    I think that goes too far. Yes, the police waste resources on toilet stings and too often entrap or pressure men into pleading guilty when they have not committed a crime. But Anthony Kennedy's eloquent description in the Lawrence decision about "the right to privacy" -- meaning certain personal decisions so intimate that the Constitution protects against governmental interference -- does not extend to sexual conduct taking place in public -- even semi-secluded.

    The ACLU didn't have to go as far as it did in Larry Craig's case; the stance it took in the lower court would have vindicated the First Amendment right to solicit private sexual conduct. That would be victory enough and once on the books would eliminate the broad police discretion that allows the kind of abusive techniques employed against Craig, when the police can claim all sorts of information was "communicated" by non-verbal means.

    Once solicitation is clearly protected by the Constitution, enforcement would be limited to what's actually being done in public; not what's being said.

    Still, I would love to hear the court press Craig's lawyers on whether he agrees with the ACLU about constitutionally protected toilet sex, since up until now he is benefiting from civil libertarian support without taking a clear position himself.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 For related stories and breaking news, click or bookmark:


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    December 07, 2007

    Sex scandal from hypo to reality

    Posted by: Chris

    Jefferynielson Well that didn't take long.

    Coincidentally the very same week that an aide for a Democratic senator was busted for allegedly arranging a three-way with a 13-year-old male, a former aide to a Republican senator pleaded guilty to charges he met a 14-year-old on a gay hookup site and had sex with him, and on separate occasions a 12-year-old.

    The liberal O.C. Weekly, which has doggedly reported Nielson's now longer alleged sexploits, has the details:

    In open court, a somber Nielsen, who has extensive personal ties to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Orange County Republican Party boss Scott Baugh, gave Superior Court Judge David Thompson signed guilty pleas acknowledging two felonies: committing lewd acts on a 12-year-old Virginia boy and 14-year-old Orange County boy. In exchange, Nielsen, 37, received a three-year prison sentence.

    Danarohrabacher Rohrabacher is a classic Orange County Republican, very conservative on social issues like Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who is now serving time for bribery and about whom gay rumors have surfaced. Rohrabacher's gay rights record is atrocious, including two votes for a federal marriage amendment and consistent scores in the teens or 0 on Human Rights Campaign report cards.

    But Nielsen's nefarious dealings with the two teens occured after his employment with Rohrabacher, who is not alleged to know anything at all about it when they worked together. He did write a law school recommendation for Nielsen, though that was also before the molestation charges were first filed.

    There are all sorts of parallels here to the arrest this week on child exploitation charges of Mike McHaney, a scheduler for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and a former scheduler for Joe Solmonese at the Human Rights Campaign. I suggested that:

    Mikemchaneyfriendster [Leftie] bloggers traffic in a double standard that says sexual misconduct is blogworthy only if it suggests hypocrisy; that is, only if it's committed by conservatives or those who work for them. Or, in the case of those bloggers who attempt to out conservatives and their staffers, no mis-conduct is required at all -- simply alleged gay sexual conduct, or even gay affiliation, such as showing up at gay parties or bars.

    Of course I understand that hypocrisy is newsworthy and blogworthy, but if sexual misconduct says something about the credibility of conservatives, why doesn't it say anything about the credibility of liberals when it happens to one of their own? If McHaney worked for Trent Lott, for example, we'd be told that the scandal reflects on the legitimacy of Lott's position on gay rights and moral values.

    So let's see how the leftie blogosphere has reacted to his story. For the most part, the gay blogs only started in on Nielsen after the plea agreement, but every indication that is only because the California case hadn't made it to their east coast radar. And with the obvious parallels to McHaney they could be expecgted to soft-pedal their glee over Nielsen. For example, Pam's House Blend reported on McHaney and Nielsen both this week, and thankfully resists the urge to visit the sexual sins of either staffer on his political boss.

    But back in California…

    The Liberal O.C. blog said this in November 2006, when Nielsen was on trial for the first time:

    "Rohrabacher recommends a child molester": Nielsen worked for Rohrabacher, and met the first child (that we know of) that he raped while working in Rohrabacher’s D.C. office.  That ties Rohrabacher to Nielsen. Rohrabacher also wrote a letter of recommendation in 1997 that helped Nielsen get into USC Law School.  That also ties Rohrabacher to Nielsen. No matter how you cut it.

    Similarly, the blog Republican of the Week chimed in just this week:

    Republican activist and former aide to Orange County, Calif. congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Jeffrey Ray Nielsen, pleaded guilty to child molestation and in a plea deal will go to prison for three years. … Nielsen's defense included accusing "the liberal media" of being out to get him. When he was first arrested in 2003, he claimed he didn't know the boy was 14 years old. Rohrabacher claims he doesn't remember Nielsen but he wrote a recommendation for the child molester in his office to get into law school.

    Jeffreynielsonoc Raw Story, the liberal online newspaper with ties to gay outing activist-blogger Mike Rogers, also reported Nielsen's plea, and only in the last graph of the story informed its readers for the first time about Mike McHaney, the Maria Cantwell aide arrested last week. Rogers, who has outed low-level staffers on Capitol Hill and in the White House for being gay, despite a complete absence of sexual misconduct, has said nothing about McHaney on his blog.

    And the aforementioned O.C. Weekly reported on the Nielsen story no fewer than eight times, even bringing to light the Virginia teen whose account eventually forced Nielsen to cop a plea. Kudos for that, although my point here is that there's no question in my mind that those sort of resources would never have been thrown after Nielsen if his ties were to liberal Democrats.

    Of course the conduct here -- alleged as to McHaney and admitted to by Nielsen -- is perverted, immoral, exploitative and criminal. The evidence does not suggest either is strictly a pedophile, but instead it appears they are both gay men who betrayed the trust of teenagers in ways that are unconscionable to the vast majority of us.

    Their political connections, liberal and conservative, aren't particularly relevant to their sexual misconduct. But the point is that's true for both of them, even though McHaney's boss has a good gay rights record and Nielsen's ex-boss has an atrocious gay rights record. The big "H" of hypocrisy does not trump all.

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    December 05, 2007

    Blogging H-free sex scandals

    Posted by: Chris

    Mikemchaneyfriendster An interesting debate is shaping up over how or whether gay media and bloggers will cover the arrest of gay Senate aide Mike McHaney (pictured here from his Friendster profile) for allegedly showing up for a three-way involving a 13-year-old male. I have argued that sex scandals like McHaney's illustrate the illogic and, at least, the over-emphasis on "hypocrisy" as the only factor in whether a sex scandal is newsworthy or blogworthy.

    I wrote:

    There can be little doubt that if McHaney were an aide to, say, Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott or some other anti-gay Republican, the blogosphere would be having a field day with the arrest. But as it turns out, McHaney works for gay-friendly Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat.

    The logic here is what fascinates me. It would be hypocritical for the aide to an anti-gay Republican to be busted as a sexual predator, but it's not hypocritical for the aide of a pro-gay Democrat. What does that say about pro-gay Democrats exactly? That we expect this sort of behavior from them and their staff? Or is that so long as you don't legislate morality, your own immorality and that of your staff doesn't "stick" on you?

    Matt over at The Malcontent points out the one-sidedness:

    Say what you want about Larry Craig, but no one is calling him a pederast.

    And herein lies one of the chief problems with the leftists who decide whom they choose to out based on their political party:  While they busy themselves with Republican closet cases and politicians who aren’t in favor with HRC, they tend to lose sight of equally bad or worse behavior in their own midst.

    Now comes a response from Joe.My.God, who has been among the first and most extensive with coverage of gay sex scandals involving anyone right of center politically. Joe passed on the McHaney scandal entirely at first, then posted about it in response to my report that McHaney previously worked as Joe Solmonese's scheduler at HRC. Even still, Joe posted mainly to explain why he thinks the scandal still isn't blogworthy:

    Sex crimes, gay and straight, occur every day. Does the gay blogosphere have a moral imperative to cover the crimes of relative nobodies, just because they work for politicians, especially when the perpetrators have no known anti-gay track record? I don't think so.

    I've exhaustively covered the stories of major hypocrites like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig, and dangled unproven theories such as the recent Trent Lott hooker nonsense. But I've also left other unpleasant stories about Democrats and Republicans alone, for the reasons mentioned above.

    By Malcontent's standards (and probably Chris Crain's), my hands are not clean. There may indeed be some "meat" to the McHaney story, that remains to be seen, and Crain is absolutely correct that we need to call out our own, even if it damages the movement. I just don't agree that we've been doing that bad of a job.

    Joe's thoughtful post touches on the two central problems I have with how left-leaning gay bloggers handle the sex lives of those involved in politics (or, in Haggard's case, religion).

    First, this exaggerated focus on the importance of hypocrisy as the only newsworthy or blogworthy angle to the sexual conduct of those in politics leads to all sorts of horrible intrusions into personal privacy. Gay bloggers on the left routinely traffic in rumor and unconfirmed innuendo involving the alleged intimate details of the sex lives of those they "report" on, whether or not misconduct or a crime is involved.

    Second, these bloggers traffic in a double standard that says sexual misconduct is blogworthy only if it suggests hypocrisy; that is, only if it's committed by conservatives or those who work for them. Or, in the case of those bloggers who attempt to out conservatives and their staffers, no mis-conduct is required at all -- simply alleged gay sexual conduct, or even gay affiliation, such as showing up at gay parties or bars.

    Of course I understand that hypocrisy is newsworthy and blogworthy, but if sexual misconduct says something about the credibility of conservatives, why doesn't it say anything about the credibility of liberals when it happens to one of their own?

    If McHaney worked for Trent Lott, for example, we'd be told that the scandal reflects on the legitimacy of Lott's position on gay rights and moral values. Why doesn't the same hold true for McHaney's boss, gay-friendly Democrat Maria Cantwell? Is liberalism associated with a culture of permissiveness in which a Senate staffer could spend work time setting up a three-way with a 13-year-old?  Or in which someone with a history of sexual impropriety could be shipped around among a top gay rights group, two Democratic presidential campaigns and a U.S. senator without anyone raising a red flag?

    I don't necessarily think so, certainly about the permissiveness theory, but my point is it's one-sided and unbalanced -- and dare I say it? hypocritical -- to only make political judgments about the sex scandals of those you disagree with.

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    December 04, 2007

    Sex scandal gets an 'H' and a 'RC'

    Posted by: Chris

    Mchaney_hrc_friendster Only hours ago I wondered out loud in a post whether the breaking story about the Senate aide busted for attempting to sexually exploit a minor would develop a gay angle or not. Soon after I received a tip from an anonymous reader that Mike McHaney, busted by the FBI when he showed up for a three-way with an undercover witness and a fictional 13-year-old male, was a scheduler for Joe Solmonese at the Human Rights Campaign. (The picture on the right is from his Friendster profile.)

    HRC has since confirmed his employment, and I posted a short story about it on Gay News Watch. Bruce over at GayPatriot is repeating an unconfirmed report that McHaney has a Facebook profile with all sorts of HRC photos on it. I can confirm that he's got a profile, but it's only accessible to his 102 "friends."


    There are more questions to be answered, so let's hope HRC is forthcoming. Rumors are floating about why McHaney left HRC, and there are obvious questions about what sort of reference he got, if in fact he left due to some impropriety.

    Then, of course, there's the bigger fallout that the perp in a kiddie sex bust, who thought it was "hot" that his 13-year-old would-be sex partner didn't have "any pubes," turns out to be gay. The best response would be a release of all the info HRC has and a quick condemnation of predatory behavior regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of those involved.

    Given the despicable misinformation spread over the years about gay men in this area, it's important that all of us speak out against the exploitation of minors in any form, especially on those occasions when the perpetrator turns out to be gay.

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    Spelling 'sex scandal' with no 'H'

    Posted by: Chris

    Smokinggun The latest Washington sex scandal has set very few tongues wagging in the gay blogosphere, apparently because it's lacking the "big H" — hypocrisy.

    A male U.S. Senate aide, Mike McHaney, 28, was busted Nov. 30 in D.C. for showing up to have sex with what he thought was a 13-year-old male. According to TheSmokingGun, which broke the story:

    [The Cooperating Witness (CW)] and McHaney were conversing online Friday afternoon when the CW asked whether McHaney was interested in engaging in anal sex with a 13-year-old boy. "I'll be there," McHaney allegedly replied.

    He later asked for a photo of the child with whom he and the CW would have sex and whether the boy had "any pubes." When told no, McHaney allegedly replied, "That's hot." McHaney was nabbed in the lobby of an unnamed "predetermined location," where he had arranged to meet CW.

    There can be little doubt that if McHaney were an aide to, say, Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott or some other anti-gay Republican, the blogosphere would be having a field day with the arrest. But as it turns out, McHaney works for gay-friendly Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat.

    The logic here is what fascinates me. It would be hypocritical for the aide to an anti-gay Republican to be busted as a sexual predator, but it's not hypocritical for the aide of a pro-gay Democrat. What does that say about pro-gay Democrats exactly? That we expect this sort of behavior from them and their staff? Or is that so long as you don't legislate morality, your own immorality and that of your staff doesn't "stick" on you?

    It will also be interesting to see as this story plays out whether it's picked up in the gay press or treated as a gay story in the mainstream press. Whether it should is not an easy question if you're reporting the story fairly. McHaney's name isn't familiar to me, so I don't know if he self-identified as gay or not.

    Dealing in the hypothetical, a 28-year-old like McHaney who attempts sex with an 8-year-old is clearly a pedophile, but if he tried the same thing with a 15-year-old then he looks a lot more like a predator who is gay. In this case the fictional victim was a male of 13 -- who shouldn't be called a "child" as he was in press accounts but is clearly beyond the pale for adult sexual interest -- putting the perp in a gray area to be called "pedophilic."

    When the gay newspapers under my direction covered the Catholic priest sex scandal, we regularly confronted the question of when a particular allegation was gay vs. pedophilic or, as some psychologists argued, ephebophilic, which means a sexual interest in teens in the midst of the puberty. In this case, McHaney would appear to be ephebophilic or pedophilic, if the police reports are accurate -- especially since he thought it was "hot" that his fictional sex partner had no pubic hair.

    And speaking of whether the police report was accurate, I was also interested to see that Cantwell fired McHaney hours after his arrest, before he even entered a plea, much less was found guilty. Just a reminder that "innocent until proven guilty" is true in a court of law but not in the court of politics and public opinion.

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    December 02, 2007

    Statesman hits low with Craig muck

    Posted by: Chris

    Craig_statesman Leave it to the Idaho Statesman, which already wasted months passing around photos of Larry Craig in D.C. toilets, to set a new journalistic low in its coverage of the senator's ongoing saga. This time around, the paper is publishing in graphic detail -- along with audio interviews for the truly voyeuristic -- the claims of four men to have had sex with Craig, who has denied being gay.

    That denial is the supposed justification for the story, though we know the Statesman's editors have said in the past that it's newsworthy enough that any of the conservative state's politicians might be gay to root around in private lives. So the prejudices of the citizenry overrule the reasonable expectation of privacy that those in public office deserve.

    What's truly depressing about the new Statesman article is the very low bar set for credibility to be included in the story:

    As with the Statesman's August report, the new evidence is not definitive. There are no videos, no love letters, no voice messages. Like last August, they are he-said, he-said allegations about a man seeking discreet sex from partners whom he counted on to never tell.

    But the Statesman's investigation, which included reviews of travel and property records and background checks on all five men, found nothing to disprove the five new accounts.

    In other words, in the Orwellian mindset of the Statesman and its crackerjack gay sex reporter, Dan Popkey, an allegation of private sexual conduct is true unless proven otherwise. So without any actual corroboration, much less the level required by good journalists before invading the privacy of public figures, Popkey and the Statesman roll the presses.

    Sadly, the media is sinking to the level of bloggers and some of their readers. Our own little online poll has shown that the mere allegation of sexual misconduct, made on the blogs, leads a third of folks to assume it's true until proven otherwise. Another quarter assume it's false until proven otherwise, and 43 percent (a disappointingly small number) pay no attention absent evidence.

    Two of the four accounts relayed in the Statesman are remarkably weak. Neither David Phillips -- who recently made headlines by protesting the removal of his "POOFTER" license plate by the state of Virginia, and Mike Jones -- the prostitute who brought down Ted Haggard -- actually got Larry Craig's name. And Phillips changed the year of his alleged encounter when Craig's staff pointed out he lived on a yacht in 1986, not a Capitol Hill townhome as Phillips claims.

    So how does Phillips know it was Craig he had sex with two decades ago? He recognizes his "formal voice." That's it. Both Phillips and Jones come off as desperately seeking to extend their 15 minutes of infamy. And Jones claims he recognized Craig, though Craig is if anything remarkably nondescript physically.


    A third man claimed Craig stared at his penis and gave him his phone number way back in 1981, a quarter century ago. A fourth simply claimed Craig was "unusually attentive" in a personal conversation. A fifth man, who refused to allow his name to be used, claimed Craig put his hand under the stall of a Denver airport restroom stall, like in his famous Minneapolis encounter with an undercover cop.

    The point isn't whether some or all of these allegations are true, although all of them are remarkable weak. The point is they are not newsworthy and don't come close to meeting the minimum standard the media should set before publishing alleged details of even a public figure's sex life.

    At this point, the Statesman appears so desperate to justify its investment of resources and reputation on its investigation of Craig that almost anything goes. To that extent, the Statesman is the media version of the "independent counsels" of the Clinton years, given unlimited resources to investigate Bill and Hillary and anyone else who might arguably connect with the original assignment. After so much time and money, the pressure to find something -- anything -- is overwhelming.

    Fortunately our government has scrapped the independent counsel -- more like personal prosecutor -- statute. Embarrassing accounts like today's Statesman story will hopefully have the same reverse effect in the media.

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    November 27, 2007

    Another blogger scandal gone bust

    Posted by: Chris

    TrentlottescortUPDATE at the end of this post:

    The blogosphere is buzzing with yet another sex scandal involving yet another anti-gay Republican and yet another gay escort. Only this time, the "scandal" is missing pretty much every factual ingredient except the names of its alleged participants: Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott and "Benjamin Nichols," the "stage name" of a San Antonio-based escort.

    But that didn't stop the gossip, which was started by the Big Head DC blog, run by Rob Capriccioso, from claiming he had emails confirming at least two meetings between Lott and Nichols.  Big Head then quoted non-denial denials by Nichols and the Internet rumor mill was off and running.

    Here are the actual facts we know via Gay News Watch:

    The San Antonio-based gay escort alleged to have been linked to Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott has issued a statement categorically denying any contact between the two. Benjamin Nichols, the escort's working name, said, "I will continue to offer a great sense of confidentiality to the people I see. I have not, nor have I ever seen or had contact with Senator Trent Lott. It's as simple as that. It never happened."

    B3 Allegation on the connection was first made on a Washington, D.C.-based satirical blog, Big Head DC, which claimed Lott's relationship with Nichols led to the conservative Republican senator's sudden resignation yesterday. The blog claimed that emails had confirmed two meetings between Lott and the escort, and then quoted Nichols in confirmation.

    "Trent is going through his fair share of scrutiny right now and I don’t want to add to it," the blog quotes Nichols as saying. "All I can say at this point is no comment. It's the professional thing for me to do."

    Nichols claims in his statement that the quotes attributed to him by Big Head were fake. "There are falsely pieced-together quotes that serve no purpose other than to sensationalize a completely fabricated scoop," Nichols wrote.

    Big Head later reported that Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, who has offered $1 million for information about sex scandals that lead to the resignation of conservative politicians, had been investigating a Lott-Nichols connection.

    Big Head DC was founded by Rob Capriccioso, who lost his freelance writing gig at Radar magazine last month after a post about a phone number belonging to ABC's Sam Donaldson winding up on records belonging to "the D.C. Madam," Deborah Jean Palfrey. Capriccioso failed to note Palfrey's claim that the single phone call had been a wrong number.

    Lott is a longtime foe of gay rights legislation, receiving consistent zeroes on the Human Rights Campaign congressional scorecard. Lott compared being gay to being an alcoholic or kleptomaniac in an infamous 1998 interview on the "Armstrong Williams Show."

    “You still love that person and you should not try to mistreat them or treat them as outcasts," Lott said then. "You should try to show them a way to deal with that problem just like alcohol … or sex addiction … or kleptomania.”

    Lott later resigned his powerful post as Senate Majority Leader over comments at former Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party. Lott waxed nostalgic about Lott's segregationist run for president in 1948. After the fall from power, Lott worked his way back to a position of influence, serving as GOP whip until his surprise resignation yesterday.

    Nichols has penned freelance articles for Seattle's alternative weekly The Stranger, which is edited by gay writer Dan Savage, author of the "Savage Love" advice column. After Denver escort Mike Jones "outed" his relationship with Colorado televangelist Ted Haggard, Nichols scolded Jones publicly for breaking the escort's vow of confidentiality.

    "You were paid for sex, Mike," Nichols wrote in the Nov. 6, 2006, article. The most important rule you can follow when taking people's money in exchange for sex is that—no matter what—their lives stay their own and whatever passes between the two of you remains private. Period."

    If this scandal follows the course of Larry Craig's, or even if any small part of it turns out to be true, including even that Trent Lott has had sex with men, then the media will treat Big Head DC as if he "broke the story" and "brought down a senator," even though all he did was repeat a rumor, something anyone with a keyboard can do.               

    So where's the disincentive for bloggers like Big Head, who has no doubt enjoyed a massive traffic bump that will convert some percentage into regular visitors? Simple answer: There's isn't any.


    Blogger Rob Capriccioso has now responded to Nichols' claim that he fabricated the quotes in question. Capriccioso decided to publish his entire email exchange with Nichols, thereby violating his promise that they some of them were off the record.  His decision to do so represents yet another example, as if we needed one, that bloggers are not necessarily journalists and follow their own whatever-feels-good, seat-of-the pants ethics code.

    In this case, if Capriccioso wanted to refute Nichols' claim that the quotes were fabricated, he could simply have released the on-the-record emails, which he quoted from.  Instead he released the entire alleged exchange, with no justification except that Nichols got on his bad side by claiming fabrication.

    What we learn from the alleged email exchange -- "alleged" because there's no evidence of their legitimacy except Capriccioso's now-tarnished word -- is precious little. We do learn the incredibly non-credible  source of the rumor that Capriccioso is spreading: a commenter to his blog, who claimed that Lott and Nichols vacationed at the same location two times. Nothing about the email exchange between Nichols and Capriciosso confirms those two alleged meetings, as Capriccioso claimed in his original bombshell post.

    Yes Nichols has been somewhat cagey with his denials, using Lott's first name and words like "current affiliation," etc., but if that what passes as evidence these days then the blogosphere is treading into yet murkier waters, as if that were possible.

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    November 14, 2007

    Trans character assassination

    Posted by: Chris

    Autumn_sandeen_long UPDATES: At the end of the post.

    The latest attempt at attacking my character by a transgender activist comes from Autumn Sandeen, who submitted a false and libelous post about me on Pam's House Blend. With the smug sarcasm we've come to know and love from so many of our trans activist sisters, Ms. Sandeen accuses me of plagiarizing her on the Richard Curtis cross-dressing blackmail scandal:

    I really liked Chris Crain's New York Blade article Cross-dressing and blogger hypocrisy. As well I should: It sounded a lot like The Hypocrites' Exposed Closets And The 'Flinch Factor'.

    After a few choice excerpts of Sandeen's earlier PHB post and my Blade column -- which was actually in both the Washington Blade and the New York Blade -- she concludes:

    The similarities seems between the two pieces seem so ... correlative? Perhaps I should mention here that my piece was posted here at PHB on November 1st, and Chris Crain's was posted on November 9th. Since we know Chris reads PHB, it really does look like I might really be doing all of the "thinnin around here, Baba Looey!"

    There are a few problems with Ms. Sandeen's false and libelous accusation. Not only would I never plagiarize -- much less borrow ideas from the likes of Autumn Sandeen -- the Blade column she responds to was based on a blog post I published on Oct. 31, one day before  Autumn Sandeen's Nov. 1 post she claims I copied.

    Also, I sent out the Blade column to dozens of newspaper editors (any of whom could confirm receipt) by email on Oct. 31 -- again, one day before  Autumn Sandeen's post:

        From:       [email protected]
        Subject:     A late-breaking column by Chris Crain about the Wash. gay blackmail scandal
        Date:     October 31, 2007 8:09:53 PM EDT

    Pam Spaulding has promised Sandeen's offending post will be taken down, and I appreciate the quick response. But since it was out there, it can't simply be erased. It ought to be retracted, by Ms. Sandeen herself, and an apology ought to be forthcoming.

    I have a great deal of respect with Pam Spaulding, and I do regularly visit the Blend, although to be honest I'm put off by all the smug nicknames they use for anyone they dub the enemy. I do not, however, read anything by Autumn Sandeen, who was responsible for several of the most hateful emails I've ever received over the course of a decade in the gay press. (Nothing I got from the Phelps clan can touch her!)

    It's unfortunate that Pam has chosen to give Sandeen's vitriol a larger pulpit than it ever would have on its own. The particular irony here is that Sandeen's attempted character assassination was based upon my having agreed with her -- well, actually, she agreed one day after me -- about how even media lefties treated the cross-dressing angle of the Curtis scandal for laughs.

    No good deed goes unpunished.

    UPDATE: Thank you to Kevin Naff, the Washington Blade editor, for publicly standing by my column in his own blog post today.

    UPDATE: Both Pam Spaulding and Autumn Sandeen have posted apologies alongside the original post.  That was the right way to handle the situation, and it is appreciated.

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    October 31, 2007

    GOP cross-dressing blogo-hypocrisy

    Posted by: Chris

    Curtiscastagna "Cross-dressing state lawmaker blackmailed following late night tryst"

    With a headline like that, the scandal surrounding Washington state Rep. Richard Curtis is shaping up as a real doozie, and the gay blogosphere is well-lathered to pass on every juicy detail.  There are some interesting twists, however, that are showing the predictable pack of salivating bloggers are victims of "the big H" -- that would be hypocrisy -- themselves.

    The basic story, in case you've missed it, is this:

    State Representative Richard Curtis says he's not gay, but police reports and court records indicate the Republican lawmaker from southwestern Washington dressed up in women's lingerie and met a Medical Lake man in a local erotic video store which led to consensual sex at a downtown hotel and a threat to expose Curtis' activities publicly.

    A search warrant unsealed Tuesday morning disclosed that State Representative Richard Curtis (R - La Center) had sex in his room at the Davenport Tower with a man identified as Cody Castagna, 26, of Medical Lake, who he met at the Hollywood Erotic Boutique on Oct. 26.

    We're all given permission to revel in every salacious detail of this private, consexual sex encounter because Curtis is "anti-gay," or as Pam Spaulding put it, "very anti-gay."  What qualifies as "very anti-gay" these days is voting against Washington state's domestic partner registry and civil rights law. 

    Richardcurtisthumb So fair enough, he is opposed to gay rights, though no one has portrayed him as outspoken or in a leadership role on the subject. Votes are enough to make you "very anti-gay" in the gay blogoworld. The far bigger hypocrisy to me is that Curtis, like Larry Craig before him, is married to a woman. Hence his vulnerability to blackmail.

    Lost in all the joyous reveling in the salacious personal details of this man's private sex life is that the only reason we know anything about it is that he went to police as the victim of felony extortion. Of all the blogs I've seen, only my pal Jeremy over at Good As You makes more than a passing reference to Curtis as the victim here.  Jeremy included this "editor's note":

    In no way should the above be interpreted as an endorsement of any of the alleged extortion that has taken place against Mr. Curtis. It should be taken merely as a commentary on the nonstop hypocrisy coming out of the GOP ranks, and not on this police investigation itself.

    Thanks for that, though it's far from the norm. Dan Savage in particular has feigned shock at each additional detail he breathlessly shares on his aptly named blog "The Slog," acknowledging only in passing that the the information comes from the police report Curtis filed as the alleged victim of a serious crime.  Writes Savage:

    As if the details about anti-gay Washington State Rep. Richard (R-La Center) and his tryst with a male escort in Spokane, Washington, weren’t sordid enough, I spent the last hour wading through the 15 page police report. Holy crap! Curtis, hoping to keep this whole thing quiet, called the police himself. And when the police asked him what happened, Curtis told them everything.

    So even though Curtis is the apparent victim, Savage and company will do exactly what the blackmailer threatened and share every private sexual detail, with giddy commentary to boot.  It's true that no charges have been filed, but if you watch the video of Castagna trying to explain why he has Curtis' wallet and sent a stooge to pick up the dough, it looks pretty clean cut.

    Cody_castagna_still It's all justified, of course, because there's no crime more serious to the sex police of the left than hypocrisy. Which is why it's been very interesting to see how these same bloggers have reacted to news that Curtis enjoys wearing women's lingerie. Cross-dressers and trasvestites (those who have a sexual fetish wearing clothing of the opposite sex) are both types of transgenderism, the T in our happy GLBT community.

    One helpful link from the National Center for Transgender Equality describes cross-dressers this way:

    While the vast majority of crossdressers are ordinary heterosexual men with an additional feminine dimension, they are stereotyped by society based on a highly visible minority who crossdress for entirely different reasons. Drag queens are usually gay or bisexual males who don women’s clothes either to mock femininity and society’s stereotypes of gays, or to find sex partners.

    Sigh. Feel the love from these "ordinary heterosexual men." We are one big happy GLBT family, aren't we? Regardless, our crossdressing T's are telling us that crossdressers are often heterosexual and (presumably) married, so no hypocrisy there.   

    We should, in fact, feel kinship with Curtis since we've been reminded again and again in the ENDA debate that we are all gender transgressors of one form or another, and the Ts are so important that our own GLB rights must wait their place in line.  It's a surprise, then, to see how cross-dressing is being treated by the leftie gay blosgosphere.

    Take for example my friend Wayne Besen, who endorsed the "trans or bust" ENDA strategy and yet labels Curtis' sexual fetish as "fucked up" and "perverted":

    I'm telling you, the more they preach, the more fucked up they truly are. Conservative is just a synonym for pervert.

    Same for Pam Spaulding, who said about the blackmail victim, who she calls Richard 'Kink' Curtis: "Is there any end to the depravity of the hypocrites in the moralist GOP?"

    Dan Savage even throws in evidence mentioned in the police report that has no bearing on the case: "Lingerie, condoms, rope, stethoscopes—Rep. Curtis is a very kinky girl!"

    It's interesting to see how, in contrast, the British are handling their own gay sex blackmail scandal. I don't support the gag order British courts have employed to block release of the victim's identity. (It's unworkable, anyway.) But there is at least some sense that the crime of blackmail always involves a victim whose private life faces a great threat if information is revealed.

    The idea that we would enthusiastically finish the blackmailer's work for him, despite the information was about private, consensual conduct, just goes to show how far the politics of personal destruction have progressed.

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