Why is it such a slur to suggest Elena Kagan is a lesbian? Funny you should ask.
Well, ok, you didn’t ask me, but Roger Simon — best-selling author, CEO of Pajamas Media, proud father of a gay son, and advocate for gay equality — did.
If you’re coming in after the movie has started, let me catch you up. Solicitor General Elena Kagan was discussed in 2009 as a short-list candidate to be Obama’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Judging from blog posts in 2009, it was general knowledge that Kagan is a lesbian, and on left and right the attitude toward that seemed to be “NTTAWWT.” However, the “wise Latina” got the nod instead.
So when Justice John Paul Stevens announced he would retire this summer, Elena Kagan’s name came up again as a short-list candidate. And Obama interviewed Kagan on April 30, so he at least wants to give the appearance that she is being considered. However, a puzzling controversy began on April 11. Columnist Ben Domenech mentioned that her being a lesbian would be a plus from the left’s point of view — what with Democrats’ love of diversity, their hatred of hate, their total support of gay equality except when it comes to doing anything to make it legal, and their having a majority in the Senate that gives them the ability to confirm a (dolphin-safe) tuna sandwich if they want.
The reaction among fiscal conservatives and libertarians to the news that Kagan is a lesbian was, basically, “Meh.” Or, as James Joyner of Outside the Beltway put it in the headline of his post on the reactions of the right and left:
Elena Kagan Lesbian Rumor Smear Neither Smear Nor Rumor.
What they really were worried about was Kagan’s publications and career, which don’t have these conservatives gathering their torches and pitchforks. As a bonus, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went on Fox News on April 25 and promised Republicans would not filibuster Obama’s nominee providing he or she is not a raving Commie crackpot CAIR-bear — his words exactly, I swear — which Kagan is not.
Anti-gay activist social conservative organizations were predictably toxic about Kagan being a lesbian — intrinsically evil therefore ineligible to serve, ya-da-ya-da-ya-da. Yawn.
Well, thank Gaia gays and lesbians can count on the left — the gay-lovin’, gay rights supportin’ left — to have their backs. So how are they taking the news? KA. FREAKING. BOOM! SHAME-A-PALOOZA! The White House announced that Kagan is straight and it is all Bush’s fault if anyone says otherwise. HuffPo has declared war on the “Republican whispering campaign.” Human Rights Campaign is decrying discussion of Kagan’s sexual orientation as being “straight out of the right-wing playbook.”
But wait, there’s more! This isn’t just leftists shaming all lesbians and gays and denying the legitimacy of nominating a member of our minority when representation of diversity is supposedly a fundamental value of leftism. Gays and lesbians are also joining in!
Oh, and no one has interviewed Kagan to ask her to settle the matter. Sigh.
Well, now back to Roger’s question: “Why is it such a slur to suggest Elena Kagan is a lesbian?”
I think Roger asked me because the idea that anyone, left, right, or for sale to the highest bidder — oops! independent! — would consider being lesbian or gay as rendering anyone intrinsically evil and therefore unfit for office makes no sense whatsoever to lesbians, gays, and the straight people like Roger who support our equality.
So the main reason that lesbians and gays are demonized applies through the full range of the political spectrum: Our sexual union does not produce children who would be useful for the purpose of building the power and wealth of other people. This is anathema to totalitarians of every description bent on nation building. They cannot tolerate a single shirker in the baby-making department. So they devise rules — divinely inspired, of course — that do everything possible to validate only sex to produce children.
This is not to say that anti-gay religions are all bad. They are not. Indeed, they have many idealistic followers who find strength and goodness in their religion. God has a way of shining through — it must be all that omnipresence and omnipotence. Dogma just can’t limit God.
The second reason that it is a slur to call someone lesbian or gay is related to the first. Various religions have figured out how to get millions in government money to finance their operations through enterprises nominally for the purpose of charity or doing good to vulnerable populations — such as adoption agencies, hospitals, nursing homes, and so on. However, since they generally want to continue to refuse services to lesbians and gays, or to hire us — which they totally would be allowed to do with impunity if they were not taking government money or using government property — equality for lesbians and gays represents both the end of their sweet, sweet gravy train and unflattering publicity about the routes the gravy train took and the tons of cash it delivered.
The third reason that it is a slur to call Kagan a lesbian applies to the left, not the right: Lesbians and gays are outnumbered on the left by other demographic groups that hate us and want us dead. This includes anti-gay blacks; immigrants and illegal aliens from anti-gay cultures, especially those who belong to anti-gay religions; and Muslims. I believe it is these leftist anti-gay identity groups who are working hard to shift blame for a “whispering campaign” onto conservatives and Republicans.
So, left and right, calling someone lesbian or gay is a slur — even if it’s true — because it pays off in money and power to destroy a minority for not producing babies to feed the greed and lust for power of other people.
Frankly, I think lesbian and gay equality activists should be campaigning for one of our own to become a justice of the Supreme Court. I don’t believe our equality will come from the legislative branch — the rewards for stigmatizing gays and forcing everyone into heterosexual lives are so high that religious and secular totalitarians always will do those things. That means our equality is most likely to come from the judicial branch. And while I do see the foundation for our equality in the Constitution — everyone else is looking in the wrong spots, but it’s there, trust me — I think it’s going to take a lesbian or gay peer on the Supreme Court to have the credibility and stature to explain to the other justices how the Constitution and federal law apply to issues of equality for lesbians and gays. I do not believe they will be able to sort out the slurs from the truth otherwise.