Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Does it matter if she isn't?

Having posted earlier that it doesn't really matter if Elena Kagan were attracted to members of her own gender (her ideas about homosexual issues, including gay marriage, would be much more to the point), I have to raise the question: in light of reports that she is not attracted to members of her own gender, does that now matter? Well, this might matter, but not necessarily to Kagan:

Worried that weeks of rumors were turning into a major distraction, the White House is finally pushing back on all the speculation about Elena Kagan's love life. She's not gay, one of the Supreme Court nominee's best friends tells Politico reporter Ben Smith.

Administration officials hope the testimonials of Sarah Walzer and other Kagan friends will quiet speculation about the nominee's sexual orientation fanned by blogger Andrew Sullivan. In March, blogger Ben Domenech raised the same issue, referring to Kagan as "openly gay" in a post later removed by CBS News' online commentary syndicate after protests from the White House over the "smear." [...]

Walzer, a Kagan pal since they roomed together at Harvard Law School in the mid-'80s, told Ben Smith that Kagan is definitely not a lesbian.

"I know she's straight," Walzer said. "She dated men when we were in law school, we talked about men — who in our class was cute, who she would like to date, all of those things. She definitely dated when she was in D.C. after law school, when she was in Chicago — and she just didn't find the right person."

And former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who knew Kagan during her undergrad days at Princeton, emailed Smith to note helpfully that "I did not go out with her, but other guys did."

I'm not sure who's more thankful about their non-dating history--Spitzer, or Kagan herself. On the list of things most women would prefer never to do, dating Eliot Spitzer is near the top, between "being forced to kill and eat scorpions for survival" and "having to construct a working bazooka out of cardboard mailing tubes and household chemicals during a zombie apocalypse."

So, what about this is even newsworthy? I thought this was pretty funny:

The rumor about Kagan has circulated for months on gay blogs and became a matter of controversy when it was cited as fact by a conservative blogger on the website of CBS News, drawing a sharp White House rebuttal. It has, since, been a source of particular fascination in some socially conservative circles and particularly among gay and lesbian political observers, some of whom objected volubly Tuesday to a Wall Street Journal cover image of Kagan playing softball, which they perceived as a jab at a stereotype of lesbians.

The result has been an awkward dilemma for the traditional media, for whom reporting about homosexuality has always been considered to be off limits. Reporters and bloggers have debated, publicly and privately, the propriety of asking whether Kagan is gay. But Walzer – who has spoken regularly to the press this week – said that in a series of interviews with reporters she had been asked only obliquely about the nominee’s “social life.”

The intense scrutiny that comes with a Supreme Court nomination leaves ample space for curiosity – particularly intense in the gay community— on a question that even leading Republican Senators have dismissed as irrelevant to the job. But Kagan’s friends’ desire to “out” her as straight has been complicated by their hope to avoid offending gay friends by implying that there would be any problem if she were a lesbian.

Read that last line again: Kagan's friends have known all along she is heterosexual, but couldn't say so for fear of offending gay friends. Truth may be stranger than fiction, and life may imitate art, but things are pretty bad when liberalism lives up to conservative satire.

The truth is, like I said before, Kagan should be evaluated on her experience, her ideas, and her ability to do the job of upholding and interpreting the Constitution. But it's pretty amusing to see liberals hiding Kagan's heterosexuality on the grounds that they might be offending gay friends if they reveal it. The saddest thing about all of this is that we've reached a point in our culture where a single woman who is reticent about her private life is likely to be suspected of closeted homosexuality; was it really so much worse for women in the days when the word "spinster" was in use?


David said...

I'd like to meet these easily offended gays...or is it possible the prejudice is the reverse: these people assumed their gay friends wouldn't be able to handle the idea that Kagan, contrary to their hopes/assumptions, is a straight woman? (Conforming to the stereotype that gays are weak and overly sensitive).

I don't understand how clarifying her sexuality would anyway impugn homosexuality in general. As if the pretense would make it better. It's for this reason I'm more than a little skeptical on this claim that that is the reason they abstained from coming forward.

As I said before: her sexuality matters as much to me as her hair color. Her ideas on the issue probably wouldn't be much different than a lesbian. Sorry, but it is a somewhat liberal President; what type of nominee are you truly expecting to get?

kkollwitz said...

Being single and straight is the status that dare not speak its name.

c matt said...

Somewhat liberal President? That is somewhat of an understatement.

Don't know what would be worse, being a closeted gay, or being straight yet everyone thinking/suspecting your gay. Would make dating tough.

I admit that I did suspect it based upon her appearance, background and apparent connections.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

When the woman who currently represents the district I live in, in Congress, was first running, I heard mention of a rumor that she was lesbian. I heard this from her son, a campaign volunteer, and cheerfully responded "Well, you're proof of that." Yes, he replied, me and my brother and my sister.

It is a curious titillating irrelevance. If she denies it, she's making it seem important. If she remains silent, she invites speculation. In her shoes (albeit I'm male, so I can't fully do that), I would be tempted to say openly "It's none of your darn business, and its irrelevant, why do you ask?" On the other hand, if she were openly gay, some of the same parties would be celebrating or bemoaning it.

As Colin Powell said about rumors that Barack Obama is Muslim, he's not, but so what if he was? (I know, you have reasons not to vote for him either way, which is perfectly legitimate, however much I choose to vote for him.)

chimakuni said...

Because we are now all so enlightened, it is but a mere yawn as to whether Kagan is a practicing, latent, retired or never acted upon homosexual.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

... or a single heterosexual woman, or a woman who simply doesn't feel much sexual impulse at all, or...