Conservative Blogger Takes Flak for Noting SCOTUS Nominee's Presumed Homosexuality

April 18th, 2010 1:51 PM
Here's the thing about the vast right-wing conspiracy: it doesn't really exist. The left's latest attempt to invoke the notion has ended in rebuttals from commentators on both sides of the political spectrum.

Conservative blogger Ben Domenech noted the White House's apparent desire to appoint a homosexual to the Supreme Court. He noted in a post at the New Ledger that at least three nominees -- Pam Karlan, Kathleen Sullivan, and Elana Kagan -- are gay. The White House vehemently denied the latter. The left was not happy.

Huffington Post contributor Sam Stein quoted a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, who alleged a "shameless … whisper campaign" started by the "far right," echoing other groups' statments to the same effect.

But there is no evidence of any such campaign. Indeed, the extent of the evidence offered by Human Rights Campaign and other left-wing groups seems to be that propagating rumors regarding sexual orientation is "straight out of the right-wing playbook."

A spokeswoman for the group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays told Stein that the rumor of Kagan's homosexuality
implies that there's some sort of scandal going on there. And the bottom line is, it doesn't matter and it shouldn't matter… And I think it could certainly be used, or be perceived to be used by some as a way to discredit [Kagan], even though we all know that it does not matter and it should not matter.
But Domenech gathered that Kagan was gay due not to some vast right wing whisper campaign, but, as he states in a piece on the Huffington Post, "because it had been mentioned casually on multiple occasions by friends and colleagues -- including students at Harvard, Hill staffers, and in the sphere of legal academia -- who know Kagan personally."

Left-wing bloggers Julian Sanchez and Matt Yglesias shared Domenech's apparently mistaken belief that Kagan was a lesbian. As Sanchez noted on Twitter, "Gay news sites treat it as common knowledge."

Groups claiming to defend gay rights -- and the White House itself -- pounced on Domenech's statement, apparently presuming that the claim that Kagan was gay was in fact an attack. But liberal and conservative minds both rejected that notion.

Yglesias wrote, "I'd like to think we're past the point where saying someone's a lesbian counts as a dastardly 'accusation.' "

Regardless of one's stance on homosexuality -- or the issue's pertinence to a Supreme Court nominee's eligibility -- it seems apparent that Domenech was noting Kagan's sexuality out of the purely benevolent sense of the gay community's pride and progress.

For his part, Domenech believes the nation is, for the most part, beyond the question of sexuality as a legitimate objection to a Supreme Court nomination:
Look, it's 2010 -- no one should care if a nominee to any position is gay. The fact that conservative Senators John Cornyn and Jeff Sessions have recently expressed openness to confirming an openly gay nominee to the Court is a good thing. Senators should look at things that actually matter -- evaluating a nominee's decisions, approach to the law, their judgment and ability -- to see whether there are actually good and relevant reasons to oppose the nomination. That's all.
But that's about getting the job. As a political matter, there are ramifications for nominations to the Supreme Court, and the core elements of a nominee's biography, like his or her family life, are inescapable when the nation focuses on such a high-profile life-tenured appointment. Making history is a noteworthy thing: many in the Latino community were pleased when Sonia Sotomayor (who I supported) was nominated, and many in the LGBT community would welcome the opportunity to confirm an openly gay justice...

That's why I listed it as a positive: after so much frustration with the White House from the gay community on lack of action on other policy fronts, an openly gay nominee might serve to mend that strained relationship.
It was the groups claiming to defend gay rights, not Domenech, that presumed the (false) claimed that Kagan was a homosexual was a veiled attack and part of some right-wing whisper campaign. It was not, and there was no whisper campaign.