For those in the public eye, speculation about one’s sexual orientation is commonplace. When red flags (not the fun kind) like being an unmarried woman or a “confirmed bachelor” go up about someone newly thrust into the spotlight, speculation can reach a fever pitch. Such is the case with Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. However, what raised the flag was not her marital status or her position on “don’t ask, don’t tell”. It appears the main reason the lesbian rumor started was due to comments by 4 anonymous alleged Harvard Law School students posted on Epinions.com. What really sold it in many people’s minds was the Obama camp’s oddly desperate-sounding denials of the rumors when they first started. And when some digging brought to light juicy tidbits like pictures of Kagan playing softball and her apparent sparse dating record in college, that just fueled the fire.
Of course it’s ridiculous to suggest a woman is a lesbian because she played a softball game at which those with cameras were present, or because she dated few men in college. But the right wing opponents of her nomination will take anything they can get. In response Democrats have dispatched, of all people, Eliot Spitzer to defend Kagan’s honor. The two were friends at Princeton and Spitzer swears she dated other men (not him) during her time there. And her law school roommate is also sure that Kagan is straight. The way these rumors are being handled calls into question why being gay is such a dealbreaker for a Supreme Court nominee. Are the hamhanded denials really necessary? If she were gay, would that be the end of her brief career as a potential Justice?
Besides the unnecessary effort being expended to prove she’s not gay, what also irks me is the suggestion being made by some openly gay journalists that if Kagan was gay, she has a responsibility to be out about it. If the question is asked, they say, she should have to answer. And if she were gay, it apparently would be a boon to liberals because it would mean she definitely had progressive stances on key issues. This irks me as well. Ever heard of the Log Cabin Republicans? I think it’s somewhat offensive to suggest that being gay automatically makes you progressive. How many closeted gay Congressmen have consistently been anti-gay rights in their political actions? Gay folks don’t have a corner on the liberal market. Their views vary as much as straight folks’ do.
I don’t think public figures have a duty to declare their queerness. Yes, it would be awesome if Kagan were gay, out, and progressive. However, she’s not obligated to inform us of the details of her private life. What really needs to be critiqued is the Obama administration’s response to the suggestion that she might be gay. In making it a Big Deal, they’re inferring that there’s something politically dangerous about being gay. Kagan herself has been mum about the issue. Which is her right, but letting everyone else assure the public that you’re not gay seems a bit off. If the case is “She’s Not Gay, Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That!” saying it once should be enough. I just think the way this is being handled by the left borders on offensive. I expect as much from the Fox News set, but I’d like to think so-called progressives could stand to be a little less hyper about the rumors.
Unfortunately, the only way I see this ending is if Kagan herself states which team she’s playing for. Is there a People cover in her future?