Out to Dreier


Via Kos, I notice that BlogActive has claimed the scalp of another closeted gay Republican with an anti-gay voting record, California's David Dreier. As both note, Dreier has a fairly anti-gay voting record. Some of those are defensible on small-government or federalist grounds—plenty of gay libertarians would agree that if some bigot wants to rent an apartment to straights only, that should be his right—but others certainly aren't. Now, I ended up having a conversation on the ethics of this with John Aravosis, who helped launch the outing campaign, at a panel on another topic I did a couple of weeks back. And he convinced me that, while they're restricting their gaze to elected officials and top-level staffers, it's fair game.

But I'm increasingly thinking it's a counterproductive strategy. First, Dreier has at least recently been one of a number of Republicans who've pushed back against a Federal Marriage Amendment; now seems and odd time to blindside him with this. But more generally, it's unclear what this is supposed to accomplish. Assume elected gay officials are not, by and large, self-hating. If they go along with homophobic legislation, presumably it's because they'd often like to oppose it, but think their constituencies wouldn't go along. Moreover, the most homophobic districts are likely to be even more averse to electing a gay representative than they would be to electing a presumptively straight one who was lukewarm about anti-gay legislation. So what do outings ultimately accomplish? When they have any impact, it's likely to be to replace gay officials who might at least want to try to slowly turn their party around on such issues with authentic homophobes. How does this really advance the cause of gay rights?