Friday, April 15, 2005

GOP Minnesota state senator comes out

A lot of politicians are coming out. First the mayor of a town in Kansas comes out, and now a state senator in Minnesota has joined the club. The part that makes thing dicey for the latter is that he's a Republican.

Brian Lehman of Nisswa, the Crow Wing County Republican chairman, said Wednesday that he doubted [Minnesota State Senator Paul] Koering could win the Republican endorsement, run against an endorsed Republican in a primary and win nomination, or win re-election if he switched parties.

"He's pretty much committed political suicide, because this area is pretty conservative," Lehman said.

Lehman said Republican activists in Koering's district have been demanding the party find an opponent for Koering, or volunteering to run against him, since Koering voted with the Senate Democrats a week ago.

Explain to me the logic here. He's the same conservative he was a week ago, but today he's not good enough for the Republican Party because he's gay? Is he suddenly going to turn into a liberal because he's openly declared his sexual orientation? How does that have anything to do with his qualifications to be a senator? It makes him more liberal on this one issue, and if his vote on that issue is enough to change your mind about his qualifications to serve, then fine, but make it about how he votes, not to whom he's attracted.

The Right doesn't have a monopoly on obnoxious reactions to gay politicians, however. Another article on the situation reports how Senator Koering was badgered by GLBT activists over his sexual orientation.

At about the time of the vote [on a bill to ban gay marriage], gay and lesbian activists were e-mailing reporters and legislators pictures of Koering allegedly taken at a gay bar in Minneapolis. He doesn't seem pleased with efforts to "out" him against his will. He says of pressure from the activists: "They can do, and I'm sure they will continue to do, whatever they want, which I think is a sad state of affairs. ... But they did NOT precipitate my decision."

I remember this happening before U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe came out. Now I think it's in everyone's best interest if gays and lesbians, both famous and not-so-famous, are open about their sexuality because it's a lot harder to support discrimination against people you know. That said, no one has a right to make that decision for anyone else, and it's especially ugly when used as a form of blackmail, political or otherwise.

Mostly I am really sick of both sides deciding that one's sexual orientation necessarily leads to one's political views. Gay people can be conservative. That doesn't make them bad conservatives, nor does it make them traitors to the GLBT community. Deciding that all gays must be liberal is like saying all gay men must like show tunes or speak with a high voice and all lesbians must wear short-cropped hair and play softball. These are stereotypes that may be true for some, but not all, and it does everyone a disservice when we try to force people into stereotyped roles.


At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outing: The process of creating scared, unwilling and ashamed role models for GLBTQ kids everywhere.



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