Mything the Story
BY Kerry Eleveld
May 12 2010 6:35 PM ET
is fascinating is that LGBT people seemed equally as desperate
to cast Kagan as our gay hero as the far right did to cast her as their
A reader on our website, Terry of Havasu, enthused,
“Gay people are used to being controlled by the fact they are
outnumbered by straight people. At least now there could be an ‘inside’
voter.” Wink, wink.
Meanwhile, the American Family Association
charged, “We cannot afford to have another sexually abnormal individual
in a position of important civic responsibility. ... The stakes are too
high. Social conservatives must rise up as one and say no lesbian is
qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.”
Look around and it’s
easy to see why LGBT people long for role models in high positions.
Perhaps because gays and lesbians know what it’s like to love behind
closed doors, it’s all too easy for us to imagine someone as
ambitious and successful as Elena Kagan doing just that. And certainly,
just because people who know her don’t believe she’s gay, it doesn’t
prove she isn’t. But by the same token, neither is her decision
against declaring her sexuality, marrying, or raising children
Obama nominated the unmarried Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Slate writers Dahlia Lithwick and Hanna Rosin looked at the conundrum of
being a single woman of a certain age — and successful. For a woman,
being eligible to fill elite positions such as solicitor general often
means prioritizing profession over personal life. But once you
approach that glass ceiling without the trappings of “womanhood” (i.e. a
husband and kids), everyone thinks it’s weird — or “unnatural,” as the
Slate headline suggested — and starts asking inadvertent, intrusive,
and frankly, irrelevant questions.
Andrew Sullivan argued that
knowing Kagan’s sexuality is relevant to discerning what type of
conclusions she might draw on the bench. I disagree. I have always found
that people’s historical patterns and approaches are far more
predictive of their future actions than ascribing stereotypes based on
whether they are black or white, gay or straight, male or female. The
fact that Kagan has played softball in the past, for instance, is much
more telling about her propensity to play softball in the future than
whether she is gay or straight would be.
terms of LGBT issues, the juxtaposition of Kagan’s declaration that the
military’s gay ban is “a moral injustice of the first order” with her
assertion, during her confirmation hearing for solicitor general, that
there’s “no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage” is worthy
Kagan’s capacity to judge should be based on the
merits — her accomplishments, her writings, her judicial philosophy, and
what kind of a contribution she could make to American jurisprudence
and society at large.
I, for one, am glad to get back to
covering the substance while hoping that one day, knowing the truth
about someone’s sexuality — gay, straight, bi or whatever — will cease
to be a diversion from more consequential considerations.
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