Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Thoughts on Outing

Blog Associate Pat, aka anonymous q, had an insightful comment that I was thinking through overnight and had some thoughts concerning to share with the blogosphere.

I agree that if there is an outing campaign, it shouldn't matter what party the person is. But what I don't quite understand is, since you are so against outing, what difference does it make how John Aravosis and Mike Rogers out people? I thought the point that should be emphasized is that they shouldn't be outing it at all. Period. At least when they selectively decide to not out someone, as you point out, that's one less person outed.

Clearly, you've shown that John and Mike have been inconsistent in their manner of outing. It seems like a staffer shouldn't work for someone anti-gay, and then they say it's okay, etc. What difference does it make? They changed their mind and decided to change their strategy, or as I'm sure you feel, they simply lied. It's their campaign, and they obviously are going to do it the way they see fit, and they make no secret of their dislike of the Republican Party. Again, it seems like the issue for you is that they shouldn't be outing at all.

Pat is right in a prima facie sense -- if my primary goal is to oppose outing of another person in any form and for any reason, which it is, why should I care about Rogers and Aravosis NOT outing a person? In addition, in getting John and his surrogate Inside the Beltway to not only admit that there are closeted gay staffers working for antigay Democrats, but to give details on their positions, I have potentially increased the risk of those individuals being outed -- a BIG concern for me.

That being said, the reason I am bringing forward the fact that Rogers and Aravosis have either been completely inconsistent or lying is because it is an example of the single biggest problem I see with gay rights activism -- that so often it is subverted to serve other purposes and causes unrelated to gay rights, with resulting detrimental effects. Furthermore, this subversion often goes completely unreported.

To whit, at the beginning of the outing campaign, both Rogers and Aravosis were insistent that this was not a partisan campaign:
“If you’re gay and you support making sexual orientation a political weapon, then your sexual orientation is fair game, and you will be outed to the rafters,” Aravosis said.

“This isn’t a partisan issue, and it is not a witch hunt,” Rogers said. “Being outed is an empowerment tool. I’m telling the truth to save their lives.”

However, as I have shown, and Rogers, Aravosis, and their surrogates have admitted, they have deliberately not outed current closeted staffers of antigay Democrats for political and personal reasons, primarily because said Democrats would "lose their seats". (Their attempted outing of a former staffer of Democrat Charlie Stenholm, which involved someone who had not worked for Stenholm for months and was not even in Washington, smacks more of a personal vendetta against the specific staffer than it does a consistent attempt to hold antigay Democrats accountable.)

That fact in and of itself reeks of partisanship -- if the point is to punish antigay politicians, why should only Republicans be threatened with losing their seats, while Democrats are not? The only reasonable answer is that, to Rogers and Aravosis, party affiliation is more important than one's voting record on gay rights -- a theory corroborated by, as I reported previously, their attacks on a Republican with a higher HRC score and who voted against the FMA and MPA, unlike the Democrats who DID vote for the FMA and MPA whose staffers they are protecting from outing. Rogers and Aravosis have made their motivation clear -- an antigay Democrat is better than a pro-gay Republican. Furthermore, given Rogers's and Aravosis's clear linkages to the Democratic Party and to Democratic political groups, I strongly suspect that their actions may be part of a coordinated campaign by the Democratic Party to attack and discredit those who refuse to follow the Democratic Party line, while giving the Democrats political "cover" to continue their discrimination against gays in an attempt to pander to voters.

Finally, both Rogers and Aravosis make the excuse that some of the gays they haven't outed are "working from within", despite their previous contempt for using that as an excuse not to out people. My question in that case is simple -- how do they know that? From a more sinister standpoint, is their certainty on that fact due to their having told the individual and their Congressperson that they will out the individual unless they do as they are told?

The best counter-example I can give is of Robin Tyler's outing of Emily Malcom, the founder of EMILY'S List, this past summer when EMILY'S List endorsed Inez Tenenbaum, the Democratic Senate candidate from South Carolina who supported the FMA. While I don't agree with what Robin did, she did it consistently and because of a reason far greater than partisan politics -- Tenenbaum was antigay, and no gay person should support with money or endorsement an antigay politician. I can respect that, even if I disagree with how she carried it out. Furthermore, I know that Robin was out in front of the Democratic National Convention this year protesting the Democrats' antigay stance while John Aravosis was inside supporting it -- a sad case, indeed, when a lesbian has more balls than a gay man. (wink)

In short, Rogers and Aravosis are doing exactly what they accuse the right of doing -- using sexual orientation as a political weapon to destroy peoples' lives and careers. That fact needs to be reported, often and loudly.

No comments: