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Last month, Greg Hambrick at the Charleston City Paper wrote a story resurrecting the Lindsay Graham gay rumors—-and the renewed effort to out him. It’s largely a non-story: Graham is still single, still maybe gay, still saying he’s not, and there’s no more evidence to suggest he is, still. But that hasn’t stopped Michael Signorile, noted gay writer and committed outer of closeted gay politicians:
“Let’s have a real investigation of the rumors about South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who … has been rumored to be gay for years,” Signorile says. “Like Larry Craig, Graham has voted antigay — including for the federal marriage amendment — while people in South Carolina and Washington have discussed what some say is an open secret for a long, long time.”
Signorile claims that “the homosexuality of public figures—and only public figures—should be reported on when relevant to a larger story (and only when relevant).” That means that a politician’s private sexuality is fair game only when he or she has spoken against it publicly. But as Hambrick notes, it’s not just liberals who are working to out gay politicians—-it’s, duh, the Republicans, too. Writes Hambrick:
With rampant calls for a primary opponent to challenge Graham next year, it likely won’t be the Dems that Graham has to be concerned about with the gay-baiting. While many in the Democratic Party have reveled at the scandalous exit of Sen. Craig, a long-standing opponent of gay rights, the most vocal calls for his ouster came from his own party, including presidential candidate John McCain, Graham’s Senate BFF.
These Republican gay witchhunts don’t pass Signorile’s stink test. Republicans don’t like gays, and they don’t like Republicans who are secretly gay, so there’s no real hypocrisy to be remedied here, just plain homophobia. When Republicans begin to take up Signorile’s cause, I wonder if it begins to become counter-productive. Should liberals really be working to shun all Republican gays from political life because they disagree with their politics?
Most of all, though, I think Hambrick fails to pass the news test here. There’s no new evidence that Graham is gay. There’s no real mobilized effort to prove he is. All Hambrick has is “former Ninth Circuit Solicitor David Schwacke,” outed by the Republican party, and Charlie Smith, an openly gay realtor who ran for office a couple of times. Neither have any real perspective on Graham. Why not make the story about one of them, and not about Graham, who has nothing to do with any of it?