Jean-Marie Navetta, spokeswoman from PFLAG — Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays — accused people of trying to manufacture scandal [meaning a claim that Solicitor General Elena Kagan, high on the short list for Supreme Court, is lesbian] out of thin air.
"People love taking part in rumors like this, whether they're gay or not, because it implies that there's some sort of scandal going on there. And the bottom line is, it doesn't matter and it shouldn't matter," she said. "But we hear it all the time… it's a gossip point for people. And I think it could certainly be used, or be perceived to be used by some as a way to discredit [Kagan], even though we all know that it does not matter and it should not matter."
The comments come a day after CBS published a blog by Ben Domenech, a former Bush administration aide and Republican Senate staffer, in which he asserted that choosing Kagan would help Obama "please" much of his base, because she would be the "first openly gay justice." The White House reacted strongly to the assertion, relaying that Kagan is, in fact, straight. It was the first public pushback by the administration in defense of any potential Supreme Court nominee.
CBS has removed the blogpost, but it isn't the first source to report that Ms. Kagan is gay. The earliest that I could find was Towleroad, a widely read gay-oriented blog that probably has journalistic ethics at least as high as those of CBS.
I understand that Ms. Kagan may not want her sexual orientation to be an issue. For that matter, she may not be lesbian. I wouldn't care in either case. She seems well qualified for the Court based on her academic qualifications from Harvard Law, as evidenced by her nomination and qualification as Solicitor General, the office she now holds.
What I don't understand is why groups that hold themselves out as "pro-gay rights" are behaving as though this is a smear. Of course it is a smear in the eyes of many bigoted ninnies. But the bigoted ninnies are going to have to be confronted sooner or later. No time like the present. I suspect that a lot of Americans would be alienated by Republicans suggesting that Kagan, or another equally qualified nominee, should be rejected by the Senate merely for sexual orientation.
One also wonders why the Obama administration, which holds itself out as a friend to gay Americans, is pushing back so hard. Barack Obama the candidate portrayed himself as many things, as an advocate for equal rights, and as a new John Kennedy.
On this issue, Obama does indeed seem Kennedyesque, stalling and waffling and making half-hearted gestures for the sake of politics, just as Kennedy did in the struggle for African-American civil rights.
"Yes, we support your rights, and we'll do everything we can for you. It's just not convenient now. Please be patient."
Where is Lyndon Johnson when you need him?