A couple people have raised concerns about a post I wrote about Tammy Baldwin's potential candidacy for U.S. Senate. In explaining why I didn't think Baldwin's open homosexuality would doom her chances, I mentioned that Sen. Herb Kohl, the incumbent, has long been rumored to be gay.
I do not regret mentioning that. Whether or not the rumors are true, they are relevant in discussing the the significant role of sexuality in American politics.
If it were up to me, sexuality would not be a political issue, and therefore, the sexuality of lawmakers would not be relevant. However, in a state in which many political leaders are openly homophobic and use anti-gay bigotry to appeal to voters, sexuality inevitably becomes a part of political analysis, especially when a potential candidate for Senate is openly gay.
Second, I did not "out" anybody. These are rumors that have been reported on in the past, most notably by the Shepherd Express (I don't know if the article is online, I'm looking). I was not breaking any gossip -- I don't think anybody familiar with Wisconsin politics was surprised by the rumors I was discussing.
The topic of the post was not Herb Kohl's sexual orientation. My point was that voters in Wisconsin don't particularly care about it.
I will say, however, that after reading my post again, I realize the tone of it may have been a tad cavalier and presumptuous. I rephrased a couple things to emphasize what I wrote in the first sentence on the matter: "Oh, and Herb Kohl is long-rumored to be gay."
I don't believe the media should investigate the personal lives of public officials. I would never ask a public official questions about his/her sexuality. But there's no way in hell I'm going to write a post about whether a gay person can be elected in Wisconsin and not mention a previously-reported rumor that one of our senators is gay!
Last, I would prefer that anybody who disagrees with my take on this issue direct their criticism at me, not Isthmus. One of the great things about Isthmus is that it allows bloggers a great deal of latitude in determining what to publish. My blog posts are a different product than the articles I write for the paper, both in style and content.