Would Roy Cohn have been a fair recipient of this site’s Roy Cohn Award?

As long time readers know, I have been quick to call out the Washington Blade when I’ve disagreed with them. Equally, I am quick to support them when they, in my opinion, get it right. Their reporting on my work around David Dreier was good. Their hiring Jeff Gannon, a known plagiarist who opposes National Coming Out Day was bad. (Why a paper would want to have on its staff a writer who has been proven to steal the work of others is something I will never understand. But, hey, it’s their paper.)

This week, the Blade’s Executive Editor, Chris Crain, wrote an editorial confirming stories about ex-US Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham:

What you won’t read about in these mainstream press accounts is the other double life led by the closet case, Duke, the anti-gay conservative.

Then Crain explained how reporting on these closet-cases does change votes. Sharing with readers that the only reason Steve Gunderson and Jim Kolbe came out was because they knew activists were going to do it for them. Crain explains:

Neither [Kolbe or Gunderson] had been particularly friendly to gay rights while still in the closet. Kolbe had scored a 43 and a 67 on HRC’s report card, while Gunderson managed a mediocre 57. Once they no longer were living their own double-life lies, their voting records followed suit. They both scored a perfect 100 in the term after they came out, and Kolbe went on to score perfect or near-perfect scores every term since.

The editorial went even further, reporting on the closeted members of Congress who are anti-gay. We all know that Mark Foley is a closeted gay man — I’m glad to see Crain calling him out. And David Dreier, too:

The same could be said for Mark Foley, a Florida Republican who traveled openly within gay circles with his long-term partner until he went back into the closet for a U.S. Senate run in 2004.

David Dreier, a member of the Republican House leadership, is also openly closeted, refusing to deny long-standing rumors that he is gay. The rumors only came to a head in the last year, and their only visible impact so far was to take Dreier out of the running for House majority leader after Tom DeLay was forced to resign.

Reading Crain refer to my work on the story a Democratic Senator confirms what early followers of this campaign have known all along; blogaCTIVE is nonpartisan. For all of the yelling and screaming about this campaign being anti-GOP, here’s a bit of a story from July of 2004, the first month of blogACTIVE.com.

 

 

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I don’t agree with Crain’s take on national groups when he writes, “every major gay rights group has flatly rejected outing.” While none have come out and expressly endorsed this work, national organizations have taken more of a mixed view than Crain implies.

NGLTF‘s Executive Director, Matt Foreman said in an interview with MetroWeekly:

“…I think there’s a consensus in the organization that outing is appropriate when gay people vote to deprive us of our human rights. I’m talking about people who have the power to do something.’

Chuck Wolfe of the Victory Fund explained that while it was not the group’s agenda to engage in such reporting they don’t condemn it either:

”If we ever outed anyone, we’d lose our credibility with the people we work with,” said Chuck Wolfe. ”On the other hand, who can condemn people for using whatever weapons they have to fight for equality and point out hypocrisy? It seems exactly why we have a democracy.” [Emphasis added]

While The Human Rights Campaign — under Cheryl Jacques — at first expressed opposition to this work, their tone changed when they were reminded that they also have engaged in what some call “outing” — The Human Rights Campaign outed ex-gay leader John Paulk years ago.

HRC’s new President, Joe Solmonese, spoke with The Hill (3/30/05) and here’s what he had to say on the topic:

Q: What do you think of outing campaigns?

A: Different people have different philosophies about this and approach it in different ways. … If you’re outing someone on the Hill, are you doing it because you’re going to change their mind about their vote?… I think that I and the HRC focus on how people vote and what people say.

Q: Would you advise people who are waging outing campaigns to stop?

A: Well, I haven’t really had a long conversation with anyone who’s on this, so I can only speak to what I think.

Q: Can you say whether the campaigns are good or bad, helpful or unhelpful?

A: You ask yourself, good, bad, helpful or unhelpful in doing what? In doing what? I’d be curious to see how they would answer that sentence. Is it in causing someone to lose their job? Is it in changing a vote, changing the direction of Congress? That is the question I would ask.

Q: Have you seen votes changed as a result of outing campaigns?

A: No, I haven’t.

As Crain’s editorial proves, those pushed out of the closet do change votes and are more likely to support the community they are no longer secretly a member of.

The debate over the senior staff is as easy one for me to answer. When I look at Roy Cohn, I see the man who would have most definitely been the award’s first recipient. And he was a staff member.

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