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    That’s the way I’ve always heard it should be

    The requisite Jonathan Rauch piece about the McGreevey resignation is up at The New York Times. As is frequently the case lately, I agree wholeheartedly with about 80% of what he writes and have reservations about the other 20%. Rauch thinks that the bizarre circumstances surrounding McGreevey’s climactic announcement make the whole thing so weird that it won’t really affect gay advocacy, but he himself can’t resist taking the opportunity to use it to plug for gay marriage. Here’s the middle of the article:

    I coped by struggling for years to suppress every sexual and romantic urge. I convinced myself that I could never love anybody, until the strain of denial became too much to bear.

    Others coped differently. Some threw themselves into rebellion against marriage and the bourgeois norms it seemed to represent. Some, to their credit, built firmly coupled gay lives without the social support and investment that marriage brings. And some, determined to lead “normal” lives (meaning, largely, married lives), married.

    At what point Mr. McGreevey realized and acknowledged he was gay I don’t know. I do know that many gay husbands begin by denying and end by deceiving. Perhaps that was so in his case.

    That’s a nicely even-tempered way of putting it. But given that this is an op-ed, in which opinions and editorializing are expected, is it too much to ask for even a parenthetical acknowledgement that the kind of coping that involves long-term deception is wrong?

    It’s true that we don’t know exactly when McGreevey realized he was a gay American [Cue: Rapturous applause by assembled press corps], but it appears that his sexuality has been pretty much an open secret for at least several years. No human being can make the best decision in every difficult circumstance he ever encounters. But even so, people don’t just wake up one morning, after a lifetime of doing their best to live decently and honorably, to find that they have to deal with two sham marriages, accusations of cronyism and corruption, a possible sexual harassment lawsuit, and a sudden desire to resign as Governor of the ninth-most populous state in the Union. And while I understand that I don’t know first-hand what life was like when the gay men and lesbians now in their 40’s were my age and younger, the fact remains that 1979 was over some time ago. Fags get 365 days in a year just like everyone else; on any one of them before last week, McGreevey could have faced up to reality and started being honest.

    In other words, if the accusations against him are true, McGreevey’s problem is self-centeredness. That’s a character flaw that, to coin a phrase, does not discriminate based on sexual orientation–as the reality of sex and corruption scandals among straight politicians attests. Nevertheless, the craftily self-serving among us gays have learned that they can get sympathy by playing the emotional-upheaval card when their misdeeds catch up with them.

    It’s a poor idea to abet such a maneuver. I think McGreevey’s case makes an excellent argument for being honest with yourself and others, conquering your fears, and coming out of the closet sooner rather than later; it does not help the argument that gays are responsible enough for marriage.

    Note: I guess I should point out that I know the reporters actually at his press conference weren’t applauding; it was apparently the newsroom at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

    4 Responses to “That’s the way I’ve always heard it should be”

    1. BigFire says:

      McGreevey’s problem is not that his sexuality. His problem is old fashion cronyism and corruption.

    2. Kris says:

      I agree with 90% of what YOU say about agreeing with 80% of Rauch. I think he and the fellow who maybe-was-his-lover-maybe-wasn’t are about to find out just how little sympathy the public, straight or gay, has for lying, mis-using public funds to get some booty, and various sexual shenanigans among men. Sure, the American public loves sass (Will and Grace), Style (Queer Eye), and has an appetite for scandal (uh, McGreevey and the already massive news coverage over the weekend), but I don’t think sympathy. It’s going to get Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil out there.
      I also lack sympathy for the whole affair, for the same reason you do – there was a lot of unethical behavoir here, no matter how the unknowns shake out.
      And while I agree with the point that this affair does nothing to further the argument for marriage, I do have to point out, again, my umbrage at the use of the word “responsible” with relation to gays and marriage. I’ve made this point elsewhere, but I have yet to be convinced that straight folks are any more responsible with marriage than the gays.
      By the way – the New York Times referred to Barney Frank as “a gay” on Saturday.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      BigFire, it’s certainly shaping up in that direction, huh?
      And Kris, well, the “responsible” comes from my recollection of Rauch’s wording in his book Gay Marriage, and since I was referring to his argument, that’s how I put it. Feel free to stay shadowed if it’s cooler there, though. :)
      I think the reason people perceive gays as being sympathetic so far is that the publicized reaction has come from spokespersons for gay groups, just about all of which are Democratic Party loyalists. Personally, I still think that the reasons he gave for stepping down in his speech were good ones, taken at face value. But from what we know of reality, I agree that he’s in for a well-deserved drubbing.
      PS, if that Israeli guy is actually straight, what the hell is he doing working in PR?

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