Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is a Politician's Sexual Orientation Newsworthy?

SIX DAYS AFTER being busted for DUI after leaving a gay bar, California state senator Roy Ashburn told the media that he is gay.

Rumors had floated for years that the divorced father was gay but the media never reported them. Should they have?

A columnist asked Ashburn, who has been adamant in his opposition to gay rights, about his orientation in 2009. Ashburn answered, "Why would that be anyone's business? I think there are certain subjects that are simply not relevant and this is one of them. It has no bearing on the job I do."

Should the media simply report the denial? Or should they further investigate if they think the person is lying?

This situation has popped up numerous times in recent years, most famously with former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey. The media did not report rumors of homosexuality then either.

With issues like gay marriage and partner rights being debated in legislatures around the country, does the public have the right to know the orientation of their elected officials?


Sarah Sibel said...

I agree with Ashburn, does someone's sexuality really make a difference in the job that they do? I agree that at times people can allow such issues to affect how they do their job or live their daily lives, but if the only reason why Ashburn came out is because he was caught, then I feel that there was no real reason why the world had to know or why the media had to make a story of it. I think that too much emphasis is placed nowadays on such issues, and really there are so many other important issues occuring in society that someone's sexuality, whether in politics or not, should not be at the top of the list of importance.

Jessie Fox said...

I agree with Sarah. I don't think sexual orientation should be a factor in anyone's position within their profession. It doesn't change who they are professionally and they shouldn't be judged on their life outside of work. It doesn't effect how they do their work and the media shouldn't make it seem that way.

Alana Turchi said...

I don't think his sexual orientaton necessarily should be a story. He is who he is, and that makes no difference. But what I think is interesting is that he has been adamant against gay rights, although he is gay. Why would we want someone in office who isn't true to themselves?

Gillian Francella said...

I think that America needs to be a little more open to stories about sexual orientation or sex in general. I think that it is up to officials to determine whether they want to tell people they are gay or not, we shouldn't force anyone to tell us their preference. However, I would rather have an openly gay governor than a governor that cheats on his wife and hides his sexuality.
Mr. Ashburn, I do not care that your gay, I care your gay and you don't want rights.

uhleesha said...

I think its a shame that gays have to hide their sexual orientation in the political world. If someone is voting against gay rights and is gay on the low, that is a problem!!! People (especially gays) have the right to know about something like this. If the gays are not even for gay rights how will a law like that ever pass?

Berryman, A said...

I truthfully do not feel like his sexual orientation has anything to do with him being an elected offical. I feel as if he would not be judges and certain people would not be againist him if they did not know his sexual orientation. There are people in this country who probably feel he is a bad elected offical because he is gay. His sexual orientation should have nothing to do with the way people view his ideas, nor does it affect the ideas he makes.

alessandralaura said...

In an ideal place, everyone would feel comfortable to say whether they are gay or not and be proud of that.
However, like Professor Miller said, we all have baggage. So the real question in this story is- did Mr. Ashburn's baggage affect the way he does his job?
If there is a chance that he was adamant against gay rights because he was trying to cover up his sexual preference then THAT needs to be investigated.