“The rather distracting debate about Elena Kagan‘s sexuality reached fever pitch this week,” reports Newsweek‘s Julia Baird, “thanks to a powerfully argued series of posts by gay blogger Andrew Sullivan, who insisted that Kagan’s sexual orientation should be a matter of public record if she is going to be confirmed as a Supreme Court judge.
“‘It is no more of an empirical question than whether she is Jewish,’ he argued. “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.”
“Let’s get one thing clear,” Baird states. “It should not be an ‘accusation’ to ask if someone is gay, nor a ‘slimy’ attack. Nor should it be considered a ‘charge,’ as a White House spokesman declared it to be last week. Being gay is not a crime, and not a shame. Sullivan has a point. But it is still, for some, a private matter.”
I am of two minds that I cannot reconcile. My basic attitude is “who cares?” or “oh, she’s gay?….good.” I also understand and sympathize with Sullivan’s point in putting Kagan’s private persuasions on the table. I also agree that a bigoted mentality was indicated by that White House statement that allusions to Kagan being gay constituted a “charge.” What’s needed to complete the circle would be a few bigots to flatly say or imply that Kagan’s sexuality should be a factor in determining her suitability for the Supreme Court. But of course, bigots never (or rarely) flatly say anything.