The Andrew Sullivan/American Family Association Identity Politics Alliance Against Privacy!

Not that the world was wondering, but I don't give a damn about Supreme Court pick Elena Kagan's sexuality. And while I don't like her liberal, anti-military philosophy, that would typify anyone of her background, many of whom would be worse. So I haven't felt especially compelled to write about her.

Until today, that is. The culture war has reared its ugly head, and activated all sorts of busybodies who care deeply about things like the sexuality of their fellow citizens. I would like to think that we are moving past such concerns, and I think most people have.

Most, but not all. There are gay activist busybodies who don't believe in leaving people alone, and they are assisted by anti-gay busybodies on the other "side."
Andrew Sullivan typifies the mindset of the former. A gay identity politics activist to the hilt, he believes that all gays have a weird sort of communitarian duty to either out themselves, or else be outed (and that Barack Obama is using the Kagan nomination as a way of driving gays into the closet). From a piece titled "So Is She Gay?"

It is no more of an empirical question than whether she is Jewish. We know she is Jewish, and it is a fact simply and rightly put in the public square. If she were to hide her Jewishness, it would seem rightly odd, bizarre, anachronistic, even arguably self-critical or self-loathing. And yet we have been told by many that she is gay ... and no one will ask directly if this is true and no one in the administration will tell us definitively.
Actually, the American Family Association is delighted to do Andrew's bidding.
In a blog post for the far-right American Family Association (AFA) today, Bryan Fischer comes right out and says that the media should pointedly ask Kagan, "Are you a lesbian?" And if she is, according to AFA, she shouldn't serve on the court:
It's time we got over the myth that what a public servant does in his private life is of no consequence. We cannot afford to have another sexually abnormal individual in a position of important civic responsibility, especially when that individual could become one of nine votes in an out of control oligarchy that constantly usurps constitutional prerogatives to unethically and illegally legislate for 300 million Americans.

The stakes are too high. Social conservatives must rise up as one and say no lesbian is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. Will they?

Americans For Truth -- a group "devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda" -- also put out a statement saying that Kagan needs to answer, "Are (or were) you a practicing homosexual or do you consider yourself homosexual (gay)?" Last month, Focus on the Family also said that it would not be open to a gay Supreme Court justice.
So there you go. From opposite "sides" in this blasted culture war comes the same, equally bigoted question.


Such concerns are what drive identity politics.

Your sexuality is their business.


If this is what passes for politics, I wish I could opt out.

MORE: Glenn Reynolds takes a close look at Kagan, and finds her to be a surprisingly good pick -- especially considering the alternatives. Well worth reading.

As to the argument over whether she is gay, and whether she has the right to any privacy, Glenn linked this discussion in Mother Jones which raised some good questions about the motives behind this inquisition. (Basically, she's an unmarried woman who looks like a stereotypical lesbian -- and it appears that if she didn't invoke the stereotype, no one would be asking.)

I realize that Andrew Sullivan is not alone in suggesting that inquiries about the sexuality of public office seekers should now be a legitimate focus, but I don't like it. Such questions easily lend themselves to being petty and tyrannical in nature, and are irrelevant to public service.

It's not as if we were in the 1950s when questions like "ARE YOU NOW, OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN, A HOMOSEXUAL?" were asked, and I don't recall Justices Alito or Roberts being quizzed about what might have ever turned them on.

Should they have been? If so, where do we draw the line? Should all candidates for all public offices have their sexuality vetted? And how far should such vetting go? Should we be asking about what age virginity was lost? Whether there has been loyalty to partners? Whether pornography was used? About specific sexual tastes? ("Are you or have you ever been bisexual?" Have you any fetishes?" "Have you ever taken part in any sexual activities which might be termed bondage or sadomasochism?" "Have you ever participated in anal sex?" "Please state whether you were on the top or the bottom.")

I realize the above is far from inclusive (doubtless the government screeners could come up with something more comprehensive), but is this the way we want to live?

Is privacy over?

posted by Eric on 05.10.10 at 07:07 PM


From "Sleeping With The Enemy" by Andrew Sullivan, in The Atlantic, 1991: (last paragraph)

Whatever the differences among gay men and lesbians, there was always a sense that everyone was essentially on the same side. Now I’m not so sure. It’s not so much that, within the gay world, there are now those who have assumed the rhetoric of the historic enemy. Nor even that, in the heat of battle, some have taken to desecrating others’ religious beliefs and practices, embracing the very forms of intolerance that homosexuals, of all people, have historically shrunk from. It is that they have attacked the central protection of gay people themselves. They have assailed the ability to choose who one is and how one is presented, to control the moment of self-disclosure and its content. They have declared that the bonds of common sympathy must be sacrificed to ideology, that the complexities of love and loyalty and disclosure can be resolved by the uniformity that is the classical objective of terror. The gleam in the eyes of the outers, I have come reluctantly to understand, is not the excess of youth or the passion of the radical. It is the gleam of the authoritarian.

Frank   ·  May 10, 2010 10:36 PM

Sullivan has become the person he once despised.

Frank   ·  May 10, 2010 10:39 PM

"Your sexuality is their business"

I'm not so sure. All successful animals regulate their sexuality, punishing animals that break the norm. Our failure to do so is causing the poor, irresponsible to out breed everyone else.

TomSwift   ·  May 10, 2010 11:00 PM

But, if Kagen were pretending to be straight, while secretly a Lesbian, and going to great lengths to create a cover by dating men for instance, then THAT would be relevant.
It would raise the issue of what else she could be hiding. It would say something about her character, and about our society.
Those of us who are gay and have hidden our sexual identity, like I did while serving in the military, can sympathize with someone put in such a position. I would not choose to do it again.

On the other hand, people who go to great lengths, over years & years to hide who they are while pretending to be the opposite, are not fit for high office. At the least they are duplicitous, at the most cowards and hypocrites. And it usually ends ugly.

Frank   ·  May 10, 2010 11:17 PM

"Your sexuality is their business"

I'm not so sure. All successful animals regulate their sexuality, punishing animals that break the norm. Our failure to do so is causing the poor, irresponsible to out breed everyone else.

"No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has been shown not to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphids. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue."
�Petter Bockman

I am unaware of an anti-gay movement among penguins. Perhaps you can give me a cite?

M. Simon   ·  May 11, 2010 4:22 AM

The problem with hiding your sexuality is that you then open yourself up to blackmail. It's not the homosexuality, it's the cover-up.

I long for a day when we can hate each other for who we are instead of peripheral stuff like who we worship, screw or what color our skin is.

I just look at that stuff as the lazy man's way out.
There are so many reasons to dislike people, we really aren't very nice, that it just doesn't make sense to use stuff we can't help or that doesn't affect any but ourselves.

Veeshir   ·  May 11, 2010 9:34 AM

My argument is neither in favor of nor against the hiding or concealing of sexuality; only the right to do so. I think that sexual freedom must inherently include the right to privacy about sexual matters. Otherwise, gay activist demands that people "out" themselves are little more than a pathetic echo of their antagonists.

But identity politics is rooted in reactions against bigotry. Sometimes it ends up replacing one form of bigotry with another.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 11, 2010 12:26 PM

She may or may not be gay. But she is certainly fat, ugly and stupid.

Robert of Ottawa   ·  May 11, 2010 9:23 PM

I'm against any one running for office who is into whips and chains. That is where the real problems lie.

M. Simon   ·  May 12, 2010 6:00 PM

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