I cannot imagine what Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is feeling right now. The jubilation of being nominated for the pinnacle of her profession is no doubt equaled by the overwhelming awfulness of being thrust into a situation where every single thing you have ever said, done or thought is now fair game for every politician, journalist and advocacy group in the country.
In the following weeks, we are going to hear some potentially icky things said about the kind of people Kagan is or is not attracted to. It already started moments after Kagan was announced as the official nominee with anti-gay activists like Matt Barber updating his Facebook status update with: “Elena Kagan Should answer questions about her sexual preferences and lifestyle. It's relevant to judicial philosophy. Character matters.”
Peter LaBarbera from the so-called Americans for Truth About Homosexuality echoed these sentiments by proclaiming that, “If Kagan is practicing immoral sexual behavior, it reflects on her character as a judicial nominee and her personal bias as potentially one of the most important public officials in America.”
The American Family Association has already decided that she is a lesbian because she hasn’t denied it yet. They say, “If you were falsely accused of engaging in sexually aberrant behavior, would you waste a single minute challenging such a scurrilous rumor?”
The desire for Kagan to comment on her orientation has not been exclusively from the anti-gay right. I, and many other LGBT advocates, have definitely found ourselves longing for Kagan to make an announcement, because in the world of identity politics I guess the thought of an openly lesbian Supreme Court justice sounds so enticing that we have ignored the fact that it really is absolutely none of our business. And it sure as hell is not the business of any anti-gay force that will use it to block her nomination.
Even though the White House already issued a stern (and bizarre) statement weeks ago that she is straight, when Kagan faces questions for the first time it seems like a mathematical certainty that she will be directly asked if she is a lesbian. Though I find it disheartening that she will have to face a question like this that truly does not have anything to do with the job she is being nominated for, I am admittedly eager to hear her response. Whether it is something to the effect of “Yes I am… next question,” “No I am not… next question,” or if she takes the road that C.J. Cregg from the West Wing took by saying “it is none of your business,” I hope it puts the issue to rest, so we can get back to worrying if she is progressive enough to step into the shoes of Justice John Paul Stevens.
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