Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Prager on Outing Gay Conservatives

Dennis Prager has a column objecting to the outing of gay conservatives that is full of his usual gaseous nonsense. I’m not entirely comfortable with outing gay conservatives myself, but the arguments Prager makes about it are just plain silly. Like this:

It is difficult to identify a more morally repellent act – outside of violence – than “outing” a gay person for political gain. Yet, those who “out” gay conservatives defend their actions – and they do so by blaming their victims. The victims deserve it, the outers contend.

I don’t think it’s difficult to identify a more morally repellant act at all; how about lying to your constituents and engaging in a sham marriage so that you can exploit anti-gay hatred and demean and dehumanize people for being exactly what you secretly are? That strikes me as far more morally repellent. The victims here are those who have had to endure a constant stream of anti-gay rhetoric and voting from the likes of Ed Schrock, who hid the fact that he was gay so he could stay in office from Pat Robertson’s congressional district and vote for every anti-gay bill that came up.

And why do gay Republicans and conservatives deserve to have the most private part of themselves revealed to the world?

Because, the activists argue, conservative gays are hypocrites, and hypocrites deserve no mercy.

But this argument is nonsensical. If the activists believe this argument, they do not think clearly. If they don’t believe it, then they “out” gay conservatives for another reason: They wish to punish gays who do not follow the leftist party line on same-sex marriage and other gay-related issues, and they wish to intimidate other non-outed gays from adopting conservative values on such matters.

And here is where Prager goes off the deep end with two mistaken assumptions. The first is that the problem with closeted gays who are anti-gay in their political views is based solely on opposition to gay marriage (that’s false); the second is that those closeted gay conservatives who have been outed actually take a sincere position against gay marriage and other gay rights issues (that’s not just false, it’s ridiculous). Thus, Prager writes:

Why is the hypocrite argument nonsense? Because it is a non sequitur. Gay opposition to same-sex marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with hypocrisy.

Why can’t a gay person oppose redefining marriage to include two people of the same sex?

Why can’t a gay person believe that it is best for children to start out life with a mother and father as opposed to two fathers and no mother or two mothers and no father?

Why does one have to be a heterosexual to make that argument?

Why is one’s value system shaped by one’s sexual orientation?

Why does the fact that one is gay and engages in homosexual behavior mean that he must advocate redefining marriage?

But upon what does he base this notion that men like Ed Schrock and David Dreier have a sincere belief against gay marriage or any other gay rights issue that they have previously advocated against? Has any outed gay legislator with an anti-gay record ever even claimed such a thing? This is an issue I’ve advocated on for a long time and I’ve never heard a single gay person take the position that gay marriage should be illegal for any of the reasons Prager suggests.

There are some gay activists, as Dale Carpenter noted recently, who are opposed to gay marriage because they view it as accepting a heterosexual paradigm of what relationships ought to be. But I’ve never heard any gay person, least of all an outed gay legislator with a track record of anti-gay advocacy, say, “Yes, I’m gay, but I still believe that gay people should not be allowed to get married or have children.” If Prager has heard anyone say such a thing, perhaps he could quote them.

And there’s a reason for that: because such ideas, all protestations by the anti-gay crowd notwithstanding, are based upon false assumptions about gay people. Regardless of whatever rationalizations they come up with, the real reason for opposition to gay marriage and gay adoption is really about one basic thing: gay people are icky and they’ll make kids icky too. You can translate that into really fancy terminology, but that’s really what it all means. Now, it’s certainly possible that a self-loathing gay man may think like that, but it’s hardly a sincere, thought out position that anyone should take seriously.

Then there’s this ridiculous statement:

Why can heterosexuals think outside their sexual orientation and advocate same-sex marriage, but homosexuals cannot think outside their sexual orientation and advocate retaining opposite-sex marriage?

Because supporting gay marriage has nothing to do with one’s orientation. Nor does opposing gay marriage intrinsically a part of a heterosexual orientation. But opposition to gay marriage, and gay rights, and gay adoption, are all intrinsically tied to a certain viewpoint about other people’s orientation. And of course, practically no one is against “retaining opposite sex marriage.” Allowing gays to get married does not eliminate straight marriage, for crying out loud. When will that idiotic claim die?


  1. #1 SLC
    April 4, 2007

    Aside from the issue of same sex marriage, how about closet gays who publicly bash gays (e.g. former Congressman Robert Bauman)? Even knowing what an a**hole Prager is, does he seriously think that it is illegitimate to out such a person?

  2. #2 CPT_Doom
    April 4, 2007

    There is another huge issue Prager is missing – “outing” is based on secret information about the people who are exposed. But when someone like Schrock, or even Drier, live their lives in relative open-ness, why should they count on anyone keeping their mouths shut? Schrock went to a publicly available service to troll for men – he was risking being exposed and should have known that. Drier lives with his partner and they go out socially in Washington. It ain’t outing to talk about public things.

  3. #3 Raging Bee
    April 4, 2007

    It’s really quite simple: politicians who make a career of publicly trashing gays because they are gay, are, by definition, making a public issue of the private lives (specifically, the private sexual conduct) of people who have done no wrong. And if, in their moral universe, private lives are a valid matter for public debate, then it follows that their own private lives are valid matters for public debate as well. If you don’t like it, then the peoper response would be: don’t talk about other people’s private lives in public!

    Short answer: if these bigots hadn’t made homosexuality such a big deal, this outing stuff wouldn’t be such a huge problem either.

  4. #4 JohnA
    April 4, 2007

    Well, Ted Haggard seems to have been very glad to come out that he is now “cured” of his homosexuality. I would actually imagine that if he succeeds with this ruse, we may see other outed gay conservatives go down this path of “purging the gei” from themselves so they can have a glorious homecoming, and get right back to preaching the bigotry.

    So while Prager I may be wrong about the lack of such sentiments currently, I wonder if we’re seeing a new paradigm. Homosexuality as the new alcoholism amongst conservatives, who then go get treatment and come back, pretty wife by their side, ready to wage war against the enemy they know all to well.

  5. #5 JohnA
    April 4, 2007

    Embarrassing typos above, no “I” intended, and “too” at the end. Preview failed me! 🙁

  6. #6 Russell
    April 4, 2007

    I suspect gays almost uniformly “advocate retaining opposite-sex marriage.” The bigots twist themselves into rhetorical knots trying to pretend that advocacy of gay marriage is somehow opposition to straight marriage.

  7. #7 Ex-drone
    April 4, 2007

    I do not support outing people who are gay just because they are conservative. However, all powerbrokers should be exposed if caught committing acts of egregious hypocracy, whether related to the rights and freedom of sexual orientation or to other policy areas.

  8. #8 MR
    April 5, 2007

    Good to know the right stands firmly behind my right to say and not do. Let me just say I firmly support the war on drugs. Excuse me, I have some Hendrix to listen to.


  9. #9 Kamilla
    April 7, 2007

    Gays often speak of the right to self-determination and tolerance. ‘Outing’ gay Republicans does not conform to either of those principles.

    All of can rationalize bad behavior against other people but what it all boils down to is simple intolerance. So what if a person is gay but opposses gay marriage? Surely, that is their business, not yours.

    How about closeted gay Democrats? Are they fair game for ‘outing’ as well? What if you learned that a gay Democrat voted for one of the many gay marriage bans? What then?

    What about the gay man who decided that his sexual orientation notwithstanding, what he truly desired was a family. Perhaps his deeply held religious beliefs were more important to him that who he had sex with. How is that any concern of yours? No one is obligated to live according to your standards.

    What about the gay/lesbian person who is a member of one of the three ‘homophobic’ religions? I’m sure you can find justification for outing them as well.

    If a conservative dared speak of outing any gay person the gay community would be breathing fire. They would speak to things like privacy and tolerance. Perhaps you should practice what you preach.

  10. #10 Jillian
    April 7, 2007

    I’m about as far left as you can get, but I feel sincerely sorry for fiscally conservative gay people. They don’t have much of a political home anymore; at this point in time, their best bet is probably the Libertarian party. It’s certainly not the Republican party anymore.

    How about closeted gay Democrats? Are they fair game for ‘outing’ as well? What if you learned that a gay Democrat voted for one of the many gay marriage bans? What then?

    Yep. Out ’em. It’s not about being Republican or Democrat; it’s about being a hypocrite. It’s just that at this particular point in time, it’s impossible to be gay and be a member of the Republican party without being fairly hypocritical. There’s nothing inherent in traditional Republican values that makes it impossible to be gay and Republican, but this modern iteration of the Republican party has done everything in its power to make it seem to be the case. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that the Republican stance on “smaller government” makes it the perfect fit for gay people, as a “smaller government” would be too small to have any energy devoted to telling Americans whom they may have consensual sex with.

    And as far as “tolerance” goes – you can’t really be tolerant and tolerate the intolerant at the same time. Now, “not tolerating the intolerant” doesn’t mean beating them up, or denying them the right to speak, but it DOES mean speaking out against them at every opportunity, and it also means being ready to take stronger action against them if they ever cross that line between merely advocating hateful actions and actually *taking* hateful actions.

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    April 7, 2007

    I wonder what the difference is between outing a hypocrite on gay issues and outing a hypocrite on any other issue. If you found out, for example, that someone who constantly preached family values and marriage was cheating on his wife, should it be covered up in the name of tolerance and self-determination? Or suppose you found out that a public figure who was, say, in charge of anti-drug policies had a nasty cocaine habit, should it not be revealed in the name of tolerance and self-determination? The issue, of course, is not whether someone has the right to be gay – of course they do – but whether a public figures public proclamations match their private behavior. As I see it, a public figure whose career is built on projecting a certain image, and whose actual behavior conflicts with that image, has given up any right to complain about their privacy by virtue of their public stance. If you’re going to make grand proclamations of virtue in the public eye, your private behavior had better match it. If it doesn’t, and your real behavior is exposed, you have only yourself to blame.

  12. #12 Jillian
    April 8, 2007

    Didn’t a law student try to rather ungracefully make that point to Justice Scalia a few years ago, by asking him at a lecture whether or not he sodomized his wife? This was not long after the Lawrence ruling, I think, where Scalia wrote something about not having a right to privacy in adult consensual sex acts.

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