Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kagan Debate Rages On: And I'm Glad

Everyone is yammering about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's gayness (yup, I'm fascinated, too)—except, of course, for Elena Kagan—and frankly I think it's exceptional that homosexuality has become such a firestorm issue in the media. Much of the debate is absurd, it's getting increasingly hateful among wing-nut conservatives, but it takes just such contention for America's creaky social consciousness to ever make forward strides.

* In a hilariously shallow political analysis, Ben Smith of Politico interviewed some really important people, including former N.Y. gov Eliot Spitzer about Kagan's dating history. The whore-monger cleared everything up: "I did not go out with her, but other guys did." Well then, that settles it. Meanwhile, her former college roommate claims it was tough for Kagan to date—not because she was gay, but because she was smart. Actually, there may be something to that.

* The Wall Street Journal is in deep shit for "gay-baiting" Kagan with a cover photo of her playing softball. Whoopsie! (I wonder if she wore her pearls to accent the handsome outfit.)

Meanwhile, what's not funny is how conservative crazies are using Kagan's sexuality as a platform for all sorts of idiotic, homophobic claims, such as:

* The National Organization for Marriage: "A vote to confirm Kagan will be a vote for imposing gay marriage on all 50 states." Just like that! Wow, why didn't we gays think of this before?

* Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth: "If Kagan is practicing immoral sexual behavior, it reflects on her character as a judicial nominee. It certainly matters if she could emerge as a crusading ‘gay’ advocate on the court. In an era of ubiquitous pro-gay messages and pop culture celebration of homosexuality, it’s ridiculous that Americans should be left guessing as to whether a Supreme Court nominee has a special, personal interest in homosexuality." Ridiculous is the word, all right.

* Bryan Fischer of the American Family Assn.: "We cannot afford to have (a) sexually abnormal individual in a position of important civic responsibility. Social conservatives must rise up as one and say no lesbian is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court." You bet! But misogynists like Clarence Thomas are more than welcome.

For all my shits and giggles about this issue, the driving point is that hate and prejudice are still aired with no shame when it comes to homosexuality in the U.S., and it's going to take just such an issue for America to recognize that all is not fair and balanced among us.

I actually had a "friend" on Facebook question this belief. She wrote, "Charles, what are you talking about gay rights? Don't you have the same as the rest of us? Fill me in on what you are missing." And she was serious—honestly with no clue that gays cannot openly serve in the miltary without being dishonorably discharged; that gay couples are not allowed to adopt children in 31 states; or that gays cannot have a non-U.S. spouse become a full citizen or collect spousal Social Security benefits upon their death.

How about the fact that gays are denied hospital visitation with their partners; that without a will, a lifetime together is void if a next-of-kin makes a claim; that without marriage, we are often considered "shacking up" instead of living with the same commitment as straights... or that my gay teen-age nephew—who lives in the same town as my "friend"—faces taunting and being pummeled every day because he is "different" (just as his uncle did two decades ago). No, Cheryl, we do not have the same "rights."

The best quote I've read on the entire Kagan debate comes from Kevin Naff, editor of gay newspaper the Washington Blade: “Although it would mark a welcome leap forward to have an openly LGBT Supreme Court justice, the White House and Kagan herself have denied she’s gay. I assume she understands the seriousness of being caught in a lie.”