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Spokesman for
antigay senator says he's gay

Spokesman for
antigay senator says he's gay


U.S. legislator's aide tells a Washington blog that he stands by his boss, Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum.

A top aide to one of the U.S. Senate's leading antigay members has told a Washington blog that he is gay and stands by his boss, Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum.

Robert Traynham serves Santorum as the main spokesman and deputy chief of staff for the Senate Republican Conference, which Santorum chairs. After receiving tips from readers of his Web log, BlogActive, Michael Rogers called Traynham and asked him if he is "out to the senator." In a tape Rogers provided to, Traynham responded, "I am." Asked whether the senator's constituents know he's openly gay, Traynham said, "I'm not sure that's really relevant."

In a statement released exclusively to, Santorum said, "Robert Traynham has worked for me for eight years; the last four as a member of my leadership staff as deputy chief of staff for the Senate Republican Conference. He recently returned to my personal office and is now communications director for me. He is widely respected and admired on Capitol Hill, both among the press corps and among the congressional staff, as a communications professional. Not only is Mr. Traynham an exemplary staffer, but he is also a trusted friend and confidant to me and my family. Mr. Traynham is a valued member of my staff, and I regret that this effort on behalf of people who oppose me has made him a target of bigotry in their eyes."

The senator added, "It is entirely unacceptable that my staff's personal lives are considered fair game by partisans looking for arguments to bolster my opponent's campaign. Mr. Traynham continues to have my full support and confidence as well as my prayers as he navigates this rude and mean-spirited invasion of his personal life.

Santorum was a leading sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, restricting marriage to straight couples. In 2003, criticizing the Supreme Court ruling that struck down Texas's sodomy law, he said the decision would open the door to incest, adultery, polygamy, and bigamy. "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery," Santorum said in an infamous interview with the Associated Press. "You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue, Yes, it does."

Rogers himself has come under fire from gay and lesbian activists for his outing of various officials in Washington. In fact, his outing campaign has exposed more than 20 gays who work for conservative causes and politicians.

In August 2004, Rogers heard from an anonymous source who sent taped audio messages from the MegaMates personals phone line, allegedly recorded by conservative Republican U.S. representative Ed Schrock of Virginia, in which the caller solicited casual sex from other men.

Schrock, an active Baptist who is married to a retired schoolteacher, was no friend to gays. He earned a zero from gay rights group Human Rights Campaign because of his support of antigay legislation, while the Christian Coalition gave him a 92% approval rating. A vocal opponent of "don't ask, don't tell" from a military-dominated district, he was happy to explain to his hometown Virginia Beach newspaper why he wanted the military kept a gay-free zone.

But Schrock apparently ran seven personal ads on MegaMates/MegaPhone Line: "I weigh 200 pounds...very buffed-up, uh, very tanned.... I'd like him to be in very good shape...well-hung, cut.... Nothing real heavy-duty.... [I can] go down on him, he can go down on me." After Rogers verified the story to his satisfaction and posted the audio file on his blog, Schrock backed out of his reelection race. In a press release he said, "After much thought and prayer, I have come to the realization that these allegations will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region."

On Friday, Rogers defended his decision to publicize Traynham's sexuality, saying that he's not outing Traynham but instead exposing "hypocrites in the government."

"You're using the community that many people have fought many, many, many years to establish, and you want to come into that community, take advantage of it--go to the bars, go to the scene, do all those things--then go back during the day and use the billions of dollars of government resources to deny my brothers and sisters equal access to those rights and benefits," he said. "And that, to me, is intolerable."

In Rogers's tape Traynham calls Senator Santorum a "man of principle" and "a devout family man" whom--in Traynham's words--"I strongly do support."

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