A Case for Outing on All Levels



Rogers has certainly seen that happen with his relentless campaigns against closeted members of Congress, including former Virginia representative Ed Schrock. Schrock made headlines in 2004 when he announced he wouldn’t seek reelection after Rogers posted lurid audio messages the congressman had left on a gay sex phone line. Rogers has put state politicians through the wringer too, including Republican South Carolina “bachelor” lieutenant governor Andre Bauer, who has courted Christian conservatives and would have become governor had Mark Sanford stepped down after his adulterous affair became public in 2009. Rogers quoted several sources on his blog who claimed that Bauer was gay. Eventually, the mainstream press in the state picked up the thread, noting that the rumors had been published on “at least 17” blogs. (Bauer, who is now running for governor to replace the term-limited Sanford, denies he is gay.)

It’s true that, unlike state and federal elected officials, local politicians are often not recognizable, even in their own communities. Many people have no idea who their state legislators are, let alone what they look like. But this only underscores why grassroots activists need to pay attention and expose hypocritical elected officials, particularly if more powerful and self-interested gay people are covering for them and blunting media inquiries. West Sacramento’s Mayor Cabaldon notes that unnamed gay and lesbian lobbyists and other prominent LGBT people knew Ashburn was gay and protected him. He told me that several of these individuals angrily complained to him after his Facebook update and after he criticized Ashburn in the media following the state senator’s arrest. Those who protected Ashburn were selling out the community. In that sense, they’re just as guilty as Ashburn.

Every gay person who knows the truth about closeted antigay politicans has a responsibility to speak up, as Mike Rogers does so fearlessly. This is no longer an issue that is debatable. No one’s privacy deserves respect when that person is working against our rights, and none of us should be complicit in keeping the secrets of these detestable individuals. The message has to be sent loud and clear: You are either with us or you are against us.