Boehning said his in-the-closet status was threatened by fellow lawmakers he refuses to name before the vote on SB2279. The kid who outed him, someone Boehning had been sending explicit messages to over the hook-up app Grindr, said he went to the media because he recognized Boehning as a lawmaker who voted against SB2279.
However it happened, Boehning was outed because of his politics. While some might question the wisdom of using an internet app to find sex partners – Boehning sent at least one explicit photo of himself to the 21-year-old who ultimately went to the media with it – he was doing nothing illegal. Or even anything all that unusual here in 2015 where online dating and hookups are common.
Boehning’s only sin, in the eyes of those who outed him, was that he had the wrong sort of politics.
I was thinking of that today as I watched the video segment above of TownHall.com’s Guy Benson – a gentleman I’ve met a few times at conservative events and whose work I esteem – coming out as a gay conservative on Fox News. Apparently Benson mentioned it in a footnote to his new book in a chapter where he and his co-author were discussing gay rights. He felt it was important, given the subject matter, to be transparent about his own sexuality.
But he was nervous about doing it lest he be attacked, which he already is.
“There is an element of the left that believes that they are entitled to sort of wield control over the thoughts and attitudes of certain people because of who those people are,” Benson told Megyn Kelly. “I look at that and I politely and pointedly decline to enable that whole mindset. I am a free-thinking, free citizen of a free country.”
Identity politics – the idea that people must believe certain things because they are certain things, like gay or female or a certain race – is one of the most disgusting elements of modern politics, and it gets deployed in multiple ways. We either grant people the absolute moral authority to speak on a topic related to whatever they are – gay, female, etc. – with any dissent classified as insensitive or intolerant, or we hold that people who are gay, female, black, etc. must think certain things or else they’re traitors to their sexuality, gender, or race.
And what’s ironic is that many of those – most, perhaps? – who play this identity politics game are the same who tell us that things like race and gender and sexual orientation aren’t supposed to matter.
So, going back to Rep. Boehning, we are supposed to believe that his sexual orientation is scandalous because he’s a conservative Republican with a view on anti-discrimination policy that’s typical to that brand of political thinking. Or, in other words, because Boehning is gay it’s scandalous that he’s a Republican.
And after that, we’re supposed to shut off our minds. We’re not supposed to inquire as to why Boehning, a gay man, might think that a law prohibiting discrimination against gays is bad policy. We’re just supposed to see him as a traitor to his sexuality.
Maybe, in a more enlightened sort of world, we could consider the thoughts and ideas of people like Boehning and Benson on their own merits without thinking their sexuality matters at all.
Here’s a link to buy Benson’s book, if you’re interested.