Monday, July 18, 2005

Senator Defends Gay Staffer

Here's something you don't see every day: a Republican senator has gone to bat for one of his staffmembers, who was outed as being gay. The senator eloquently responded,

"Robert Traynham ... is widely respected and admired on Capitol Hill, both among the press corps and among the congressional staff, as a communications professional. Not only is Mr. Traynham an exemplary staffer, but he is also a trusted friend confidente to me and my family. Mr. Traynham is a valued member of my staff and I regret that this effort on behalf of people who oppose me has made him a target of bigotry in their eyes.

"It is entirely unacceptable that my staffs' personal lives are considered fair game by partisans looking for arguments to bolster my opponent's campaign. Mr. Traynham continues to have my full support and confidence as well as my prayers as he navigates this rude and mean spirited invasion of his personal life."

Finally, a politician -- a Republican, no less -- who gets it. A person's sexuality is utterly irrelevant when it comes to their ability to be "widely respected and admired" as a top-level professional in the workplace. A stable, traditional heterosexual family is not only not threatened by a gay person, but can actually embrace one as "a trusted friend and confidente [sic]." It is reprehensible that sexual orientation gets used as a wedge issue in a campaign.

Quite simply put, the exploitation of someone's personal life for political gain is "rude and mean spirited," an "invasion."

Oh, did I mention that the senator in question is Rick Santorum?

The same senator who told the Associated Press, "Again, it goes back to this moral relativism, which is very accepting of a variety of different lifestyles. And if you make the case that if you can do whatever you want to do, as long as it's in the privacy of your own home, this "right to privacy," then why be surprised that people are doing things that are deviant within their own home? If you say, there is no deviant as long as it's private, as long as it's consensual, then don't be surprised what you get. You're going to get a lot of things that you're sending signals that as long as you do it privately and consensually, we don't really care what you do. And that leads to a culture that is not one that is nurturing and necessarily healthy. I would make the argument in areas where you have that as an accepted lifestyle, don't be surprised that you get more of it."

"It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist [emphasis mine] in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold — Griswold was the contraceptive case — and abortion. And now we're just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you — this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it's my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that's antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, where it's sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family. "

How does the senator square up these views with his defense of Traynham? "I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts...The question is, do you act upon those orientations? So it's not the person, it's the person's actions. And you have to separate the person from their actions."

So basically, here you have a guy who went to great lengths to explain why he believes there is no right to privacy outraged that the privacy of a member of his staff has been invaded.


Mike B. said...

Can we assume from this that Traynham is celibate, or at the very least that he makes no mention of his personal life in the office?

The old "we'll tolerate you provided you acknowledge your inferiority" routine is not unique to Santorum, sadly. It's just particularly funny connected to him, since the man is already known for cradling dead babies and for introducing the phrase "man on dog" to polite political discourse.

Andy said...

I'm not sure we can conclude anything from this other than that Santorum is a fool and Traynham has serious issues.

Tin Man said...

Well, in a technical sense, it's possible to square his conflicting views on privacy; it's not contradictory to want to protect someone's privacy without raising it to the level of a constitutional right. Still... really, really weird.

Andy said...

I don't really see how we can square it up. His argument was basically that even consensual activity done in the privacy of the home, if it's "deviant" by his standards, is a threat to the very fabric of western culture. Yet he defends his staffer by insisting that Traynham's privacy has been invaded and is irrelevant to his qualifications as a "trusted confidante."

Jess said...

I'm not sure we can conclude anything from this other than that Santorum is a fool and Traynham has serious issues.

Couldn't have said it better myself, Andy.

Tin Man said...

I just meant in a technical sense. I was being picky. :)

David Ehrenstein said...

Coult it be that Little Ricky is gettin' some "Down Low" action on the side?