In July, U.S. senator Larry Craig was arrested and later reached a plea agreement for charges related to soliciting sex from an undercover policeman in a men’s restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. As a Republican legislator from Idaho, Craig has a record of supporting several anti-gay bills. He voted for the Defense of Marriage Act and supports a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. However, he has opposed legislation like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
While Craig has repeatedly denied that he is gay, this highly publicized incident and the political fallout has lead to larger questionsconcerning the ethics of outing. The act of revealing a gay, lesbian, or bisexual individual’s sexual orientation without his or her consent is commonly referred to as “outing someone” or “pushing someone out of the closet.” While generally recognized as a violation of privacy, some claim that it is justified when the closeted politicians oppose gay rights. They argue that an official’s misrepresentation of him or herself to the public they serve violates the public trust and see the act of outing as supporting democracy. Others feel outing is immoral under any circumstance. They further criticize practitioners for using someone’s sexual orientation as a weapon and aiding witch hunts targeting gay people.
To what degree does privacy extend to the many aspects of human life? Is outing a violation of privacy? Does someone have the right to publicize another person’s sexual orientation? If so, are their rules that contain the practice? Is it hypocritical for someone who is gay or who has same sex encounters to support anti-gay legislation? Are heterosexual affairs treated differently than homosexual ones by the media?
Join us this week at Café Society to share your thoughts about outing as a controversial political tactic.
For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.