This week, the internet buzzed with news of Newark mayor Cory Booker's suave reaction to rumors that he may be gay. Booker claimed that the rumours were "wonderful," and pointed out that the comments created a useful opportunity to challenge people on their homophobia. Even more noteworthy, however, was what Booker's Republican opponent in the race for New Jersey Senate had to say. Republican Steve Lonegan felt obliged to comment on the speculations over his opponent's sexuality by adopting the righteous air of a middle-school jock, quipping that Booker's reaction was "weird" and affirming that he himself likes "being a guy." The fact that most gay men would also consider themselves "guys" seemed lost on Lonegan. Leaving his rediculous statement aside, however, Lonegan's juvenile reaction highlighted the fact that if you are a Republican in politics who also happens to be gay, you are fighting a losing battle for credibility among your peers. Republican politicians are far less likely than Democrats to be openly gay because coming out can often lead to a loss of power. In fact, Republicans have frequently turned to "crying gay" as a way of delegitimizing opponents, and they often use ludicrous evidence to provoke doubts about the sexuality of others. Here are 3 things that Republicans have used as evidence of being gay:
Unmarried public figures are often at a disadvantage. In many political campaigns, candidates' spouses are used to garner the support of spectators who view a dedicated partner as a symbolic testimony to the moral and humane nature of the candidate. But if losing leverage on the campaign trail wasn't enough, single politicians may also be asked to provide evidence of their heterosexuality. Janet Napolitano, the first woman to serve as the U.S Secretary of Homeland Security, once held a press conference for the sole purpose of dispelling rumours that she might be gay. Janet Reno underwent similar public scrutiny, and it is no coincidence that Cory Booker is also unmarried.
Politicians are often asked to answer uncomfortable questions about their personal lives and leisure activities, but when we start discussing what a politician's hairstyle says about his sexuality, it's time to acknowledge that we've started sounding less Capital Hill and more Beverly Hills. Texas Governor Rick Perry has been accused by journalists of being gay because his hair is "too perfect," and the current rumours about Cory Brooker include allegations of his sneaking out at night to get pedicures. One would hope that with everything happening in Syria, and the host of economic problems plaguing the country, commentators would have something else to talk about.
Taking into consideration that over 50% of the U.S population supports gay marriage and only 3.8% of the population identifies as gay, claiming that those who support gay marriage must themselves be gay doesn't exactly add up. These facts don't seem to stop Republicans all over the internet from accusing Barack Obama, the first U.S president to openly support marriage equality, of being gay based on his. Mark Kirk, a Republican Senator who endorsed gay marriage this year, also had his sexuality called into question.