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Congressional outings unfold in light of amendment debate

Congressional outings unfold in light of amendment debate

A full-page ad that ran in a Washington, D.C., gay newspaper on Friday is adding to what local gay rights activists are calling an "outing craze," in which some gay activists are threatening to out staffers working for congresspeople who support a proposed federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The ad, titled "Final Call to Conscience," appeared in the Washington Blade on Friday, the same day Republicans in the U.S. Senate began debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment. "For Years Our Silence Has Protected You. Today That Protection Ends," the ad read. According to The Washington Post, the ad was paid for by the Web site, named after Mary Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney's openly lesbian daughter, who has remained silent on the FMA. It was similar to "Call to Conscience," an ad that ran in the Blade in 1996 when Congress was deliberating the Defense of Marriage Act. John Aravosis, national cochairman of, told the Post that like the previous ad, this one seeks to highlight the "hypocrisy within gays and lesbians on the Hill who work for antigay members of Congress." A number of gay rights activists in Washington have been arguing that there are gay men and lesbians on the Hill who lead "closeted" lives at the office, supporting the "homophobic" stance of their bosses, then go to gay bars and attend functions with their gay lovers after work, the Post reports. Asked to explain what sounds like an ultimatum in the ad, Aravosis said, "there is no quid pro quo here. What we're saying is, we won't tolerate this anymore." Aravosis, 40, a political consultant, said has raised $23,000 since February and has used the money to run ads online for the past three weeks. "The gay community needs to have a debate: Is it OK for members of our community to help our enemies attack us? This is a big gay town. Lots of gays, who work for both Republicans and Democrats." Local fund-raiser and consultant Michael Rogers, 40, is leading his own outing campaign, the Post reports. Two days ago he started a Web log that lists the names of congressional staffers who he and his network of a dozen volunteers say are gay, based on tips from "Hill staffers" and "organizational staffers," he said yesterday. "We're working on a lot of leads, two of them elected members of Congress," said Rogers, who says he has received death threats since launching the blog. "Fact is, a group of congressmen have declared war on gay people, and we're fighting back. We need to expose the hypocrisy of Congress." The Human Rights Campaign and the Log Cabin Republicans have both come out against the "outing tactics." "Our enemies are the enemies on Capitol Hill and in the White House who are trying to write discrimination in the Constitution," HRC spokesman Steven Fisher told the Post. "The outing of staffers is counterproductive," added Log Cabin executive director Patrick Guerriero. "It takes the focus away from changing the hearts and minds of legislators on Capitol Hill.... The reality is, there are a lot of courageous Hill staffers having heart-to-heart discussions with their bosses to get them to be on the right side of the FMA issue. Coming out is a personal journey, not one dictated by others."

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