Thursday, January 28, 2016

Story on Virginia Republican Caught on Grindr Goes Viral

The other day this blog noted a story at GayRVA about an anti-gay Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates who was caught using his Grindr account in Richmond to look for hookups while snowed in during the recent snow storm.   Since then, the story has gone viral and has been picked up by LGBT blogs around the country and has ignited yet another running debate of the propriety of "outing" closeted anti-gay politicians.  Some have criticized GayRVA for failing to reveal the identity of the legislator.  While I understand the concerns that lead to the decision to not reveal the individual's identity, I would likely have "outed" him after a little more investigation.  A piece in Metro Weekly looks at the debate and information that seemingly narrows down who this hypocrite is.  Here are highlights:
The Grindr-cruising lawmaker has voted:
  • In favor of a “conscience clause” exemption allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.
  • In favor of allowing on-campus university clubs and groups to discriminate against LGBT individuals for the purposes of membership.
  • Against an amendment that would have prohibited anti-LGBT discrimination in state employment.
  • Against the nomination of Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland, Virginia’s first openly gay judge, to the Richmond General District Court.
[O]nline commenters have noted that the clues provided by Kutner essentially come close to revealing the lawmaker’s identity — for instance, while many Republicans voted against Thorne-Begland’s nomination for a judgeship when he was first nominated in 2012, only four currently-serving Republican lawmakers from Southwest Virginia were in the legislature and voted against Thorne-Begland’s subsequently successful nomination in 2013.

In an interview with Metro Weekly, Kutner said he’s received several requests from readers interested in learning the man’s identity.
“A Grindr conversation alone is debatable evidence,” Kutner says. “That certainly played a role into whether or not I wanted to out somebody, without really confirming things.

Kutner hopes the lawmaker will use this incident to think carefully the next time he’s faced with an LGBT-related piece of legislation, such as restricting the bathroom use of transgender students in school or granting county court clerks an exemption to refuse to issue marriage licenses.

But for those who insist that Kutner has a duty to “out” the closeted gay lawmaker, he says they’re missing the larger point: that the atmosphere in Virginia is so toxic that a person in a position of power feels the need to stay in the closet. 

“I’m not surprised to see people go on this witch-hunt, but outing this person is not going to make it illegal to fire gay people, it’s not going to remove the anti-gay animus. Honestly, it’s only going to make things more combative. . . . . we are flipping out to find out who’s gay — which is the same thing they’re doing,” he says. “Can you imagine Victoria Cobb right now, figuring out who she can out and try and ruin? It’s scary and weird. I’m not surprised by the reaction, but I would definitely like to see this energy shifted to a bit more of a positive place.”

Again, I understand the reasoning, but I would not have been so kind to this scum bag.   Dan Savage and I are on the same page in terms of the appropriateness of outing such politicians.  Here are excerpts from The Stranger:
I disagree: this legislator's votes against workplace protections for LGBT people, adoption rights for same-sex couples, and the judicial appointment of a qualified out gay man speak loudly of his hypocrisy and the the particular kind of damage done when closeted conservatives abuse their political power to protect their closets. We've heard this song about a thousand times before...

Just another closeted conservative asshole throwing other LGBT people under the bus—attacking other LGBT people with his votes—to deflect attention away from his own sexuality. He figures that no one will suspect him of being gay so long as he maintains a perfect anti-gay voting record—that more than qualifies this asshole for an outing. Here's hoping Internet sleuths are already on the case; there's more than enough detail in Kutner's open letter (and those Grindr pics) to identify this guy, if only through process of elimination. Get on it, Internet.

But, hey, even if the Internet sleuths fail us... this guy may wind up outing himself in the end. "[We’re] choosing to leave [him] anonymous," the say the editors at GAYRVA, "however we hope this message reaches [his] desk and [he'll] consider the words below if and when [he] have a chance to vote on LGBTQ related bills in the future."

If he casts another anti-LGBT vote, GAYRVA will out him. But if he pulls a 180 and suddenly starts casting pro-LGBT votes, he'll be outing himself. Checkmate either way.
And yes, I WILL be working to confirm the individual's identity. 

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