Gay rights and wrongs

Suppose I lusted after a cute young girl and was able to get Wayne State University to put her on the journalism (i.e. taxpayer-funded) payroll at a big salary, even though she knew nothing about journalism or teaching.

Eventually, after either getting tired of my chasing her around the table, or because she was tired of me and saw the chance to make a quick buck, she threatened a lawsuit. What if I were to then respond by first trying to negotiate hush money, and then saying I would resign, but not yet, and proclaiming self-righteously, “My truth is that I am a heterosexual American.”

How much sympathy do you suppose I would get?

Less than none at all, which would be every bit as much as I deserved. Now if you haven’t been doing survey research work at the bottom of a salt mine, you know that this is a parody of what went on in New Jersey last week, a state which, more than most, could put on its license tags “land of political corruption.”

Last week, the hottest new exhibit in the Garden State political zoo, James McGreevey, the twice-and-currently married governor, a Democrat, announced that he was gay, and said that despite his blond bombshell wife and his two daughters, he had been carrying on with another man.

He told the television cameras that he apologized to his wife, though apparently, not the citizens, and said he would quit, but not till Nov. 15. That timing is evidently so that his party could avoid a special election and risk losing the seat to the Republicans, which is known as putting petty party interests first.

The real truth is far smellier, however. Evidently McGreevey lusted after one Golan Cipel, an Israeli poet. Cipel, as of this writing, says he was a straight man who fought hard to fend off the lecherous governor’s advances.

However, he didn’t fight to fend off McGreevey’s astoundingly inappropriate attempt to make him the state’s homeland security czar, an assignment for which, as New Jersey’s leading newspaper stated, “the man was totally, outrageously, unqualified.” He couldn’t even get the needed security clearance because he was not an American citizen!

Following that, good buddy Golan was transferred to the governor’s office (with no clear duties) at a salary of $110,000 a year. Eat your heart out, Monica!

Now, I don’t pretend to know what transpired between the boys of Trenton, though a lifetime of experience suggests to me that both are lying like rugs. I think McGreevey should resign tomorrow and probably belongs in jail.

But I am dismayed and disappointed in the gay community for not denouncing this creep of a governor and his outrageous attempt to make this seem as though this is about his sexuality. What this is about is lying, public corruption, misuse of taxpayer dollars, and all the usual dreary political sins.

Yes, I know he is innocent till proven guilty. But enough is already on the public record to give the Triangle Foundation and every other gay rights institution what they need to separate themselves from this creature.

They need to do that — if for no other reason than to prove that they are, as they regularly maintain, part of the fabric of America, people whom we should love and accept and who should be held to the same standards as all the rest of us.

This column regularly beats up on straight white middle-aged males who on the surface are just like its author. I also have always defended the rights of all consenting adults to do whatever they like in private, as long as it isn’t on company time and doesn’t frighten the parrot or curdle the milk.

Bill Cosby took a lot of flak this year for daring to suggest that African-Americans need to stop blaming everything on racism and take responsibility for their actions. Now the Barney Franks of this world should step up at the appropriate moment and say that McGreevey’s problems are not a gay issue.

For the fact is that gays are white and black and saints and sinners and everything in between, And because one gay politician is an abusive, using loser doesn’t say anything — except that gays are people too.

If the gay community does that, I think they will gain a lot of respect from people who they need to reach, which is really what their struggle is all about.


Instant Runoff Voting (IRV): The Ferndale City Council last week voted 3-2 to put an amendment on the ballot which would change the way votes are counted in that small, working-class city. If voters approve, in the future, instead of merely voting for a candidate, voters would rank all candidates on the ballot. (Smith 1, Jones 2, Sullivan 3, Stalin 4, etc.) Then, if — and only if — no one gets a majority, the second-place votes are allocated and added to the totals.

If no one still has a majority, they move on to the third-place votes, etc., till someone winds up with enough votes. Interest in the idea was undoubtedly boosted by what happened in Florida four years ago; had IRV been in use in the presidential election, most believe far more of the 97,488 Nader voters would have picked Al Gore second, and the right man would have become president.

Ferndale’s IRV experiment would only affect mayoral and city council elections in that small city. It is a good idea — but the legislation needs more work. Asking people to rank multiple candidates almost guarantees they will flee the booth in confusion. (Try coming up with your fourth choice for probate judge.) Instead, they should start by merely asking the voters to indicate just a second choice — and only if they feel comfortable doing so. Then see how that goes.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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