The gay community is really angry about Mark Kirk’s vote against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. How angry? So angry they’re claiming Kirk as one of their own.
Mike Rogers, a well-known gay D.C. blogger famous for outing Sen. Larry Craig and Rep. Mike Foley -- he's outed nearly three dozen senior political aides and staffers, according to the Washington Post -- is now claiming Kirk is gay, too.
As long as Kirk supported gay rights -- as he usually did, earning an 85 percent rating from the Human Rights Coalition in 2008 -- the community kept silent. But last Thursday’s vote was seen as a betrayal. Among gay activists, closeted legislators who vote against gay interests are considered fair game for outing.
“Within hours of the DADT repeal vote I was contacted by two people who knew Kirk from his college days,” Rogers wrote on his blog, BlogActive. Both men claimed to have had sex with Kirk when they were students at Georgetown.
“In law school in DC everyone knew Mark was gay,” the first source told Rogers.
Rogers went on to recall a 2004 party where he claims he met Kirk. It was “75 percent” gay, and “Kirk asked me if the man who introduced us was ‘single or attached.’ When I said that he had a partner, Kirk replied disappointingly, ‘oh, well.’”
Kirk, who is divorced and has no children, was also the subject of gay rumors during the primary. Opponent Andy Martin ran a radio quoting conservative activist Jack Roeser’s assertion that there is a “solid rumor that Mark Kirk is homosexual.”
Martin is a wingnut who also made headlines by suing the state of Hawaii to produce a copy of Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Kirk denied the rumors during an appearance at the Union League Club, stating simply, “No, they’re not true.”
This is the first time that the accusations have come from inside the gay community, which was presumably protecting Kirk as a fellow traveler.
It hasn’t been a good week for Kirk: he just finished defending himself against charges that he puffed up his military record, and now he's the target of betrayed gay activists. And let's not forget that old machoism saw -- men who boast about their conquests are often compensating for something.
Kirk's orientation may not matter to most voters, and shouldn't. After all, homophobia is more damaging to a political career than homosexuality, these days. But given the proximity of his two PR problems, and given gay activist outrage, Kirk's going to be talking about his orientation and how it relates to his character for a long time.