There’s a rather interesting article in the NYT about the Elena Kagan saga, in which President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee has had to dog rumors that she’s gay, in part because she’s middle aged and unmarried (but not the only reason). Funny thing about the story, no mention of the words gay, lesbian, or sexual orientation. They’re omitted 100% from the story, when that is pretty much what motivated the entire story – the never-ending rumors, and press speculation (sotto voce though most of it was), about whether Kagan was gay.
It’s a glaring omission from an article about why a middle aged unmarried woman has to explain her family choices. And I think it’s an intentional one, and a sad one. The media feels the need to “protect” gays and lesbians to such a degree, that they’re now protecting reportedly straight people who have been asked whether they’re gay.
The fact that lots of people, including the media, wondered whether Kagan was lesbian is news. It’s a story. And you need no other proof than this very article in the NYT – they found the phenomenon newsworthy per se, or they wouldn’t have written about it. If she can prove she’s straight, more power to her. But let’s stop pretending that it’s defamatory to simply ask the question.
And to those who would say that her sexual orientation is irrelevant, that’s absurd. There are no out gays on the Supreme Court, there are no out gays in the Obama Cabinet. There never have been any out gays in either body, under any president. And no one seriously believes that the President would ever appoint someone openly gay to either the Supreme Court (or his Cabinet). So to suggest that Kagan’s sexual orientation is irrelevant, when it would have been an automatic disqualifier for the job, even under a Democratic president, is absurd.