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Austin Cline

Anti-Gay Republican Outed as Gay, Resigns

By August 31, 2004

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U.S. Rep. Edward L. Schrock of Virginia is a staunch Republican who has received a score of 92% from the Christian Coalition and who has been a strong backer of the effort to ban gay marriages in the Constitution. He is also a gay who has been outed because of his efforts to pick up men via a gay phone dating service.

The Daily Press reports:

Schrock, 63, is married and a conservative who voted for legislation to ban gay marriages. Schrock said in a five-paragraph statement that allegations have surfaced in recent weeks "that have called into question my ability to represent the citizens of Virginia's Second Congressional District." He continued: "Therefore, as of today, I am stepping aside and will no longer be the Republican nominee for Congress."
"We're shocked and stunned more than saddened right now," said Virginia Beach Republican Chairman Mark McKinney, who said Schrock retired because of the accusation posted on blogactive.com. "What I read on the Internet was a complete and utter surprise to me." The author of the blog, Michael Rogers, said his site is aimed at exposing "hypocrites" in Congress.

Mark Kleiman thinks that “his private, consensual sexual life“ isn’t a “legitimate public issue,” but I think that Mark misses the point. When you push legislation that would restrict the freedom of people because of some specific characteristic they have, you are necessarily making that characteristic a public issue in general; furthermore, if you have that characteristic your possession of that characteristic becomes a legitimate public issue.

When I wrote about this before, I used the analogy eating meat:

If an important member of PETA, actively involved in popular efforts to ban the sale of meat, was known to grab a Big Mac a couple of times a week, would it be wrong to publicize that fact? I don't think so. By making a political issue out of what others eat, they are no longer entitled to the same privacy about what they eat. By politicizing the issue, their real beliefs about it become a matter of public interest.

Usually, what I eat for dinner could be called an aspect of my “private dietary life” and not something of legitimate public interest. Usually, the choice to eat meat could be called an aspect of someone’s “private dietary life” generally. However, if I am a legislator working for laws to ban the eating of meat, then I have moved that issue from the private and into the public/political. There is no getting around that. It’s simply not possible to maintain that the choice to eat meat is purely private when we are debating laws that would ban it.

OK, so now the choice to eat meat is a matter of public debate as a general issue — but what about me, specifically? Are my dietary choices still completely private? No. Because I have made the decision to step into the public spotlight and want to use the law to tell others what they should and should not be allowed to eat, my personal dietary choices necessarily become a matter of public interest. The people I am trying to order around deserve to know if I really believe what I am telling them. The same would be true if I were merely advising them not to eat meat rather than trying to make that activity illegal.

Much the same holds true here, I think, when we are talking about homosexuality. If a public figure doesn’t actively work to oppose gay rights, but also doesn’t do anything to support them, then the argument for outing them would be very difficult to make — but that isn’t the case here. So long as a person is making a public issue of homosexuality (and, for example, uses their opposition to gay rights as a way to get [re]elected), then they are also making a public issues of their sexuality, whatever it may be. A person who makes a public issue of morality generally also makes a public issue of their moral behavior, whatever it may be.

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