‘Outing’ drive hits Capitol
Gay rights advocates say effort exposes hypocrisy of closeted
staffers in Congress
BY BOB DART; Cox News Service July 14,
WASHINGTON - As a Senate vote nears on a
constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages, some gay rights activists
are "outing" closeted homosexual staffers who work for members of Congress who
"Frankly, we're giving as good as we get. If they want to
have a debate on family values, we'll have one," said John Aravosis, a political
consultant and gay activist. "They want to make us second-class citizens, and
gay people are aiding and abetting in the effort."
“We're doing it to
expose hypocrisy" said Michael Rogers, another leader in the outing
However, the tactic is being denounced by other advocates of
homosexual rights and causing angst among some gay and lesbian workers on
Capitol Hill who fear for their jobs.
"It's not going to help the
cause at all," said Lynden Armstrong, an aide to Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and
a founder of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Senate Staffers, or GLASS
Caucus. "It's not going to change the minds of any member" because they will
vote to satisfy their constituents or their own convictions.
out is a very personal process that people go through," Armstrong said. "It can
be emotionally and psychologically difficult. . . . It is not fair that they are
“We oppose using sexual orientation as a weapon," echoed
Steven Fisher, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay
Aravosis and Rogers, conducting separate outing
efforts, have targeted 20 offices of House members and senators or committees in
which they say key aides are closeted gays or lesbians and in which the
lawmakers or committee, chairmen support the amendment. They are exposing the
aides on Internet sites or through ads in gay newspapers.
the national co-chairman of DearMary.com, named for Mary Cheney, who is openly
gay but working for the re-election of her father, Vice President Dick
President Bush supports the constitutional amendment to ban
same-sex marriage and wants to make gay marriage a campaign issue. Rogers has
conducted his outings on his "BlogActive" at www.michaelrogers.us.
want to create a climate where the price of anti-gay prejudice is too high for
Congress," said Aravosis, a former staff lawyer for Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
"I worked on the Hill over 20 years ago, and gay people are everywhere.
Unfortunately, too many of us are working for the enemy."
surprisingly, the outings have stirred considerable interest and controversy in
the politically active gay community of the nation's capital. In an editorial,
the community's newspaper, the Washington Blade, supported the
"If ever there were a definition of a gay Uncle Tom, it would
fit these people...," the Blade editorialized. "These are smart, talented,
well-educated professionals who could find success in any number of highly paid
positions on the Hill but who instead have chosen to devote their professional
lives, to advancing the careers of politicians who would strip them and their
friends of basic civil rights protections and even redress of their grievances
in the courts."
But a different view was offered by a gay aide for a
Republican senator supporting the amendment.
The staffer works on an
environmental issue completely unrelated to gay marriage and admits there is a
"tradeoff' in "diverting my eyes from all other issues" in order to work on what
is most important to her.
However, the outing campaign has diverted
attention from the "real issue" here, said the staffer, who asked not to be
“We're focused on outing gay people when we ought to be
outing the people who are really doing damage to, the institution of marriage,”
she said. How many heterosexual members Congress are divorced or having affairs?
“The people who are doing the outing are missing the
point. The issue is marriage," she said. "It is difficult for me, as someone who
has always played by the rules, to be told that I'm less than a full person" and
not "eligible for the status of marriage."
The outings were also
condemned by Christopher Barron, communications director for Log Cabin
Republicans, a gay GOP group.
“This plays right into hands of the
evangelical right,” he said.