Taking TheDailyFemme to the streets, coffee shops, libraries, art galleries, sports games, buses, trains, and using e-mail, we ask women all over the country (and sometimes the world) one simple question. What we get in return is a lot of insight, advice, some nervous confusion and even a hug or two.
This week’s question: With the media buzzing over Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan’s sexual orientation, its seems like every where you turn there is a headline that asks, “Is Elena Kagan Really a Lesbian?” “Does It Matter If Elena Kagan Is Gay?” or “Should media be reporting on Elena Kagan’s sexual orientation?” We asked women if they felt the sexual preference of a politician makes a difference and whether they believed it should be public knowledge.
Diane – Brooklyn, NY
I like to think that sexual preference wouldn’t make a difference but I think in some cases it does. Because gay/lesbian/bi/and trans are under represented in seats of power, an open politician would be a big step towards equality and become a role model for the gay community. It’s the same reason why the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is ridiculous. How could someone do their job fully when they’re stressed out all the time hiding who they actually are?
Nicole – New York, NY
I don’t think it makes a difference if a politician is gay or straight. If a politician cheats then that should definitely be covered in the media and they should be called out on it because it is wrong but being gay is a different story. The media makes a big deal about it because being gay is still a big issue in this country but I don’t believe it matters and it should not be a topic of discussion. Kagan and any other politician should not have to announce their sexual orientation.
Emily – Bronx, NY
That is a tough topic but it is personal one and I don’t think it is anyone business. A politician’s personal life doesn’t have anything to do with how they are helping our government or country so why should that be public knowledge?
Alex – Philadelphia, PA
The only case in which a politician or public figure’s sexuality should matter is if they’re actively working against the group they are (secretly) a part of, a la Ted Haggard or Larry Craig. In that case, I think they’re fair game to be outed (as hypocrites) if it gets them out of positions of power and illustrates yet again that punishing and condemning consenting adults for their sexual orientation is harmful, spiteful, and simply unnecessary.
As for Kagan, the speculation seems to be driven by her lack of experience as an actual judge — we don’t have old decisions to help us determine what kind of Supreme Court justice she’d be, so people figure that her sexuality would somehow determine her as more or less liberal. As long as she’s honest and honorable as can be expected, it doesn’t really matter to me. Although it would be pretty cool to see the first lesbian justice on the Supreme Court in my lifetime.
Kate – New Jersey
In regards to her sexuality, the last I’ve heard about Elena Kagan is that the idea that she is “in the closet” is still a rumor. Whether she feels the need to confirm or deny this accusation in public is totally her choice. Whether the public deems this okay or damning is up in the air. I feel that if she is homosexual and she wants to make her sexuality public knowledge, that’s her choice, but unfortunately the public might decide that this some how makes a difference on whether or not she should be accepted into the Supreme Court.
In my opinion, her sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with her qualifications for the job. She is a highly educated woman who, as far as I know, is an alma mater of Princeton, Oxford and Harvard. Not too many people can say that. Her sexuality didn’t seem to matter when she was receiving her diploma, so I don’t see why it should matter now that she is a pending nominee to the Supreme Court. In most workplaces, it would be considered discrimination to deny someone a job over their sexuality and such should be the same in this case.
It seems that in politics the idea that a politician might be gay or lesbian is beyond taboo. Political careers and reputations have been destroyed in this country over homosexuality. Is it really that big of a deal what she does in her private life if she isn’t hurting anyone or committing a crime just by potentially being a lesbian? Personally, I wish her all the best and if she has found a partner in life, I hope they live a long and happy one together without persecution of any kind.
Darcy – Missoula, MO
Well I think all this attacking on Kagan is such a double standard and it compromises and undermines the Supreme Court candidate discussion which hello! Remember people that is what we are really supposed to be talking about! I truly believe it were a man up for the Supreme Court nominee he would not be under such scrutiny even if he had tendencies that were so called “questionable.” Let’s get over the whole softball picture and Kagan not crossing her legs and start talking about her actual abilities!
Alexandra – Queens, New York
I don’t believe in homosexuality so I do think if someone is claiming to be such a thing then they should be exposed. I am not saying Ms. Kagan is a lesbian but if she were then that would affect my decision to support her because it is not right to have people in power who are living a lie.
Interviews were contributed by Annamarya Scaccia, Sofia Gauthier and Cherie Hannouche