Republicans are not the only party that engages in gay-bashing to try and win elections. Over in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell is in what is thought to be a competitive race. McConnell is the minority leader in the U.S. Senate, so it’s a high-stakes election. As recently as two weeks ago, some polls showed the race as being neck and neck, but most give McConnell a three-point to ten-point advantage over his Democratic challenger.
However, there are rumors that have surrounded McConnell for much of his career that he is a closeted gay man. Which makes the running of anti-McConnell advertisements by a labor union that has endorsed the Democrat asking “Isn’t it time Mitch McConnell was straight with Kentucky?” more than a little bit objectionable. And no one is taking credit for this flyer, which apparently someone is going to attempt to circulate in churches all over Kentucky this Sunday (right before the election).
Now, some might say that McConnell has a bad political record on gay rights. He voted yes on amending the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. (If you think I’ve been on a crusade about the California Constitution, just wait and see what I say if the issue seriously threatens to go national.) He would not add homosexuality as a basis to expand hate crime laws, or job and housing discrimination. Now, I can think of principled reasons for the latter. He might think that the Federal government has no place making it a tort to discriminate at all. I disagree with that stance but I can think of intellectually honest ways to justify it. He might think that the federal government has no business passing laws that make regular crimes also Federal crimes. I kind of agree with that one — while murder, rape, and assault are certainly bad things and should be punished sternly, they are not typically the province of the Federal government to legislate and that is the sort of thing left to the states.
The question is — does this justify “outing” him? Obviously he would rather not be outed if he is gay, and if he isn’t, then I can understand why he would be annoyed at being improperly portrayed as gay. This is different than the Larry Craig “outing” in that Senator Craig went and did something dumb and clumsy that identified him as a gay man. McConnell, if he is closeted, seems to have been more subtle and discreet. I have my doubts about disrespecting the desires of a closeted gay person to keep that part of himself private, even if that person’s voting record is, like McConnell’s, displeasing to a large number of gays and the kinds of people who (like me) think that discrimination against gays is as abominable as discrimination based on race or gender.
So if you wanted to call him a hypocrite for being gay and yet voting to promote discrimination against gays, that would be one form of attack and perhaps there is legitimacy to that. But that is also problematic; just because someone is gay does not mean that they necessarily have to agree with “gay politics.” There is no “gay agenda” that I know of any more than there is a “black agenda” or a “women’s agenda.” And again, this is something about himself he’s tried to keep private and my default position on that would be to respect that claim to privacy even though he is a public official.
But I’ve little doubt that the union accusing McConnell “not being straight” is not doing so to encourage him to change his voting patterns so as to provide a more “gay-friendly” legislative agenda or even to call him a hypocrite. They are doing it to subject him to ridicule and thereby get him thrown out of office. They are clearly suggesting that it is a bad thing to be gay and therefore that you should not vote for him because he is gay. That is a disgrace and the authors of this campaign should be ashamed of themselves.
And this proves is that Republicans do not have a monopoly on using gays as whipping boys and using churches as boostraps for political gain. It’s every bit as despicable to see Democrats doing that sort of thing and I condemn the Democrats behind this attack.