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Apr 16 2010
Boxing Elena Comments (6)
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2009_0514_wiki_elena_kagan With Elena Kagan the odds-on favorite to be named President Obama's Supreme Court pick (which doesn't mean she'll prevail—ask Evan Bayh about odds-on favoritism), speculation that she is a lesbian has been swatted down with somewhat embarrassing zeal by the White House.

PH2006032301992 Plagiarist/blogger Ben Domenech wrote a blog post for CBSNews.com in which he noted Kagan has the potential to be "the first openly gay justice." This is a legitimately interesting possibility...if she's even gay.

Anita Dunn, who's working with the White House on its pick, says:

"The fact that [CBS has] chosen to become enablers of people posting lies on their site tells us where the journalistic standards of CBS are in 2010."

She goes on to say Domench is "applying old stereotypes to single women with successful careers."

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Look, I get it that it would be far easier for a lesbian to be confirmed to any post if her lesbianism—however known or unknown—be left out of the conversation. Liberals tend to think it's improper to even so much as acknowledge one's sexual orientation, which sometimes leads to accidentally demonizing the very idea that one might be gay, while conservatives of course would like to make keep it a justifiable reason to deny people jobs. (Fantasy scenario: Conservative senator bluntly asks Kagan if she's a dyke during confirmation hearings and she says, "This is a job interview, so it's none of your fucking business.")

But aside from whatever is best politically in this situation, I think it's hardly helpful for someone working with the White House to refer to rumors of Kagan's sexuality to indignantly suggest that reports of Kagan's sexual orientation are based on "old stereotypes." I don't think people are gossiping about Kagan being a lesbian because she's an unmarried career woman, or even because she looks the part, but because there are plenty of credible-sounding rumors of her being rather openly gay at Harvard that include stories about who her female partner is. (Kind of like Condoleeza Rice—I don't recall much lesbian chit-chat about her based on her being single, so much as it was later based on documentation of her owning a house with someone who was presumed to be a female partner.)

Whether a reporter's intentions are to scuttle her nomination (seems likely; he's a Bushie) or simply to report on the noteworthy possibility of an openly gay Supreme Court pick, if there is evidence Ms. Kagan has been out to people in her life outside her immediate family, I don't see how or why it should be stopped—and even if it's stopped for political purposes, it should not be stopped with false accusations of lying. Basically, Ms. Kagan had better not be a lesbian after all when you've got Dunn and also an anonymous administration official saying point-blank she isn't.

I do fault Domenech, though, because he claimed knowledge he didn't share, failing to present any evidence for Kagan being considered out. In that regard, he's flat wrong to state that she could be the "first openly gay justice" because the sentence leads readers to presume she's openly gay now, and there isn't any proof of that.

As for the idea that we might think we know she's a lesbian, so therefore that means she could be confirmed and could eventually come out, becoming that first openly gay justice, it's still not accurate: There is always the possibility that one of her comrades on the Court could beat her to that distinction!

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