Patterico's Pontifications

1/31/2006

Leftist Threatens to Out Gay Senator If He Votes for Alito

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 6:47 am

Via a commenter at Confirm Them comes word that a leftist activist is threatening to out a closeted gay senator if he votes for Alito.

The activist has outed a Congressman before, and that Congressman resigned, so it may not be an idle threat.

I welcome discussion of the legality of this threat in the comments.

UPDATE: I don’t want to research and give an opinion about whether this might be a crime, because if I were to decide that it probably is, some lefty nut case would probably misconstrue my opinion as some kind of official threat. (I always speak here in my individual capacity, and say so in a disclaimer on the sidebar — but some dimwits don’t seem to understand that.)

However, Eugene Volokh looks at the question here. He appears to reach no firm conclusion, other than that his brain hurts. But his reasoning process is interesting.

56 Responses to “Leftist Threatens to Out Gay Senator If He Votes for Alito”

  1. Whats odd is that everyone here in washington knows that Dreier was passed up for the GOP leadership because of his sexual orientation. But you won’t find that published anywhere respectable.

    I am uncomfortable with the use of outing as punishment, which is something that the gay movement struggled to overcome. Maybe they’ve struggled to take it back? I don’t think so. Maybe there is no one thing that is the gay movement.

    “I welcome discussion of the legality of this threat in the comments.”

    I don’t think there’s that much question as to the legality. Intentional infliction of emotional distress is the best that can be done. But there are going to be big 1st amendment and newsworthyness bars to that.

    actus (85218a)

  2. This reminds me of the threat Barney Franks made on the House floor.

    The Democrat congressman was accused of running a homosexual school boy prostitution ring from his apartment in DC. The school was only a few blocks away. Barney said he didn’t know anything about it, some “other guy” was responsible, not him, and then Barney blamed his new live-in boyfriend.

    Few people believed him, and as Barney’s Dem colleagues were about to vote on some form of punishment, Barney angrily took the floor and threatened to “out” any number of his party’s leaders if they went forward with a vote.

    Evidently Barney’s threats were taken seriously because that was the end of that. Except a few days later, Dick Armey made reference to “Barney Fagot” and all hell broke loose. That dust up lasted about 10 longer than Barney’s temporary little embarrassment.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  3. Sounds like extortion, to me.

    Hopefully the congressman in question will find some balls and press charges.

    Michael Heinz (3a21a9)

  4. That Senator should just come out of the closet, then vote. It takes away the blackmail power of this Democrat extremist. But, Hey, The Democrats love extortion to win elections. Remember Bob Beckel and DNC Member Bob Mulholland trying to blackmail the Electoral College Electors if they didn’t vote for Gore in 2000 that they’d publish embarassing information about the electors? Old Democrat blackmailing habits die hard.

    PCD (a45b5e)

  5. According to the article in the Virginian-Pilot, Rep. Ed Schrock (R-VA 2) did not resign, but decided (very late, August of 2004) not to seek re-election.

    Dana (3e4784)

  6. That Senator should just come out of the closet, then vote.

    Agreed. More openly gay senators is a good thing.

    actus (ebc508)

  7. “Agreed. More openly gay senators is a good thing.”

    What a prejudicial statement.

    Al (2e2489)

  8. Um, Dreier is like the #3 guy in the House. How is that “passing him up for a leadership” role, particularly when he’s in a minority delegation?

    Angry Clam (fa7fff)

  9. A threat of that nature is ‘blackmail’ and each and every person making the threats can/should be punished to the full extent of the laws against blackmail. Maybe a few years in the slammer will show them that ‘gay’ is just a name to cover up that it is a mental condition (not a born trait). They’ll find in prison that Bubba’s toys don’t enjoy it at all.

    scrapiron (a90377)

  10. Um, Dreier is like the #3 guy in the House. How is that “passing him up for a leadership” role, particularly when he’s in a minority delegation?

    I mean even higher leadership.

    actus (ebc508)

  11. Maybe some of the attorneys here can clarify this, but if Senator X is homosexual or bisexual, even though he has hidden that fact, how does someone telling the truth about him publicly constitute an illegal action?

    Dana (3e4784)

  12. Dreier’s in the House of Representatives, he doesn’t get to vote on nominees.

    Steverino (9f27a3)

  13. Maybe some of the attorneys here can clarify this, but if Senator X is homosexual or bisexual, even though he has hidden that fact, how does someone telling the truth about him publicly constitute an illegal action?

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure this falls into the realm of blackmail or extortion. It’s not the telling of the secret that’s illegal; rather, it’s the attempt to force the target into some action to avoid the secret being revealed.

    Steverino (9f27a3)

  14. Michael Heinz — ahh, but for the Senator in question to press charges means that he would have to out himself, which he presumably doesn’t want to do.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  15. Clam – I remember hearing rumors of an abortive attempt, on Dreier’s part, to run for majority leader.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  16. Well, we know that Lincoln Chafee is str8 now.

    Is this the same ol’ Lindsey Graham stuff?

    Geek, Esq. (5dd2be)

  17. It’s not the telling of the secret that’s illegal; rather, it’s the attempt to force the target into some action to avoid the secret being revealed.

    What Senator X would have to do if he wanted to bring charges is vote for Alito and then allow his name to be revealed by this lowlife. If he announces he’s gay and then votes, the leftist would not have to announce it. So if Senator X pressed charges, the lefty could just claim that it was some other Senator.

    Gerald A (bdfba2)

  18. Gerald A – that really depends on how the Senator in question believes his constituents would respond to the news; arguably it’s better if he tells them rather than if someone else does.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  19. That’s certainly possible, but Dreier would have other, non Chief of Staff related problems were he to mount a run.

    He too has ties to indian gaming (although I’m not sure that they went through Abramoff) and he’s considered moderate-to-liberal in the House GOP caucus, which is markedly more conservative than, say, the Senate or the CA delegation.

    Angry Clam (fa7fff)

  20. Blackmailing a US Senator? Jack Bauer, we’ve got a job for you . . . .

    TNugent (6128b4)

  21. Well, as far as I can see, no lawyers have given opinions on this. Come on guys, we don’t read blogs by lawyers because we want your opinions on operas (no offense, Patterico :-).

    Surely, blackmailing a US senator or representative to get them to vote the way you want is a federal crime. Surely it is as illegal as bribing them.

    Isn’t it?

    Doc Rampage (f06a6e)

  22. If he announces he’s gay and then votes, the leftist would not have to announce it. So if Senator X pressed charges, the lefty could just claim that it was some other Senator.

    I’d be funny if several senators stepped forward.

    actus (ebc508)

  23. Interesting that it appears that people here are accepting the “threat” of the extortion as being accurate.

    What happens if you are threatened to be “outed” as gay… but aren’t gay?

    Jeff (fccab8)

  24. Lincoln Chafee voted against the confirmation.

    RJN (c3a4a3)

  25. Someone actually went to the trouble of looking up the D.C. criminal code.

    Russ (8bb875)

  26. “To expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; ”

    Now I wonder if a gay activist thinks that a person being gay exposes them to ‘hatred, contempt or ridicule.’

    actus (ebc508)

  27. Lincoln Chafee voted against the confirmation.

    Exactly. Rogers is still planning to out the Senator–which means he wasn’t talking about Chafee.

    Geek, Esq. (5dd2be)

  28. How does this sit with you lefties out there? I mean, on the one hand it would seem to be good to be like “you hypocrite” (assuming it is hypocrisy; I obviously don’t think it is, any more than Clarence Thomas voting the way he did in Grutter was, but I’m putting myself in your shoes as best I can here).

    At the same time, though, doesn’t this really play into, and capitalize upon, the belief that being homosexual (or at least bisexual since it says he’s married) is something bad and/or shameful?

    Angry Clam (fa7fff)

  29. Angry Clam – i’m not in favor. I think outing someone is a legitimate tactic when they are, say, supporting laws that ban homosexual sex, and possibly even when they are loudly promoting gay marriage bans, etc. But, as a gay man who was closeted until he was 27, I think the threshold for this should be *very high* … and I don’t see how voting to approve Justice Alito reaches that threshold.

    I also disapprove of its use a threat; blackmail is not OK. Outing someone is a different act then using the threat of outing to blackmail someone; the latter is not acceptable under any circumstances.

    However, I would like to disagree with you about one thing: the nature of an outing threat is that someone who is closeted believes that their sexuality is bad and/or shameful, and the threat plays upon that person’s beliefs. It doesn’t per se presume that being homosexual is bad or shameful; it simply presumes that the target believes that — a presumption which seems valid given the fact that the target is still closeted.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  30. At the same time, though, doesn’t this really play into, and capitalize upon, the belief that being homosexual (or at least bisexual since it says he’s married) is something bad and/or shameful?

    And it doesn’t really solve the problem of bigotry, but rather only hypocrisy. If a district elects a bigoted hypocrite, then they’ll toss him aside and then elect an honest bigot.

    actus (ebc508)

  31. But does it play upon that person’s beliefs alone, aphrael? Or is there an implicit play to their electorate and the populace at large?

    After all, this threat is used almost exclusively against politicians and similar people who are entirely dependent on their public image to continue in their jobs.

    Angry Clam (fa7fff)

  32. That’s quiet a convenient set of beliefs you have, aphreal.

    How about the target’s belief in his right to privacy? What if he doesn’t think his sexuality is bad or shameful, only that it’s not anyone else’s business, no matter what presumptions political blackmailers may have?

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  33. How about the target’s belief in his right to privacy?

    Its a good thing that such a thing exists, and that it extends to sexual orientation that has been revealed to third parties!

    actus (ebc508)

  34. Conservative bloggers should threaten to out 2 liberal senators from Massachusetts as Catholics.

    This is disgusting. But, if it is done, it will backfire on the Dems (like the Wellstone funeral debacle).

    emojok (c7aa06)

  35. I have to admit: the idea that we can criminalize free speech (Senator X is homosexual, and here’s the proof), simply because the intent of making that public is to get him to vote a specific way, doesn’t seem right to me.

    If Senator X has what he considers to be skeletons in his closet (pun intended), then he ought to understand he is risking exposure of those skeletons if he chooses to become a public figure.

    Dana (9f37aa)

  36. http://polipundit.com/wp-comments-popup.php?p=12211&c=1#comment-2358984 I don’t know if the link works but a commenter at PoliPundit answers Doc Rampage’s (#21) question.

    nk (32c481)

  37. He [Barney Frank] was accused of running a homosexual school boy prostitution ring from his apartment in DC. The school was only a few blocks away. Barney said he didn’t know anything about it, some “other guy” was responsible, not him, and then Barney blamed his new live-in boyfriend. — Black Jack

    Where are you getting all this?

    Frank’s companion was accused of having a tryst with an elementary school principal. But that was in Montgomery County, not “a few blocks away.” The escort service Stephen Gobie reportedly ran from Frank’s DC apartment did not reportedly involve children.

    Unless there’s an update.

    Is there?

    Or is this just “a convenient set of beliefs?”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/tours/scandal/gobie2.htm

    steve (539a32)

  38. Angry Clam – it plays upon that person’s beliefs alone. If that person believes they will be reviled if they are outed, then it doesn’t really matter if they will be or not; a false belief is just as effective in controlling their actions as a positive belief is. The person making the threat does not have to share the belief.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  39. Black Jack – “convenient”? That’s an incredibly dismissive tone to use to describe something i’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about. You raise a good point with respect to people who think their sexuality is simply private; on the other hand, I have a hard time believing that more than a tiny minority of closeted gays are closeted for that reason.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  40. steve,

    From your link, “Prostitute and pimp Stephen L. Gobie,” made the following accusation, ” that Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) knew that Gobie had operated a prostitution service out of Frank’s Capitol Hill apartment…”

    “Frank, one of two openly gay members of Congress, confirmed Friday that he paid Gobie for sex, hired him with personal funds as an aide and wrote letters on congressional stationery on his behalf to Virginia probation officials…”

    “Frank, a leading House liberal, likened himself to Henry Higgins, who in “Pygmalion” tries to transform a cockney waif into a member of English society. Gobie dismissed that as “garbage.”

    “Gobie said he maintained a relationship with Gabriel A. Massaro, the principal of Chevy Chase Elementary School, and used an office at the school in late 1987 to make telephone calls and have one client meet a prostitute.” He did not specify the age or gender of said prostitute.

    “Although Frank and Gobie differ in some details of their relationship, they agree on the story line. They met on April Fool’s Day 1985. The representative (Barney Frank) answered a classified ad in the Washington Blade, the local gay weekly. “Exceptionally good-looking, personable, muscular athlete is available. Hot bottom plus large endowment equals a good time.”

    “Gobie said he was born in Boston and grew up in a military family. He has felony convictions for possession of cocaine, oral sodomy and production of obscene items involving a juvenile.”

    “In late 1985, Gobie says, he began to use Frank’s apartment and two other locations for prostitution. Frank knew about the prostitution all along, but it was never explicitly discussed, Gobie says.
    “He knew exactly what I was doing,” Gobie said. “It was pretty obvious. If he had to come home early {from work}, he would call home to be sure the coast was clear . . . .”

    “Frank denies that he knew, saying he learned from his landlord and kicked Gobie out in August 1987. Gobie supports this part of Frank’s story.”

    Now, steve, seems my memory isn’t so wide of the mark after all. Thanks for the link.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  41. So you just made up the part about Frank being “accused of running a homosexual school boy prostitution ring from his apartment in DC. The school was only a few blocks away.”

    Thanks. Just checking.

    steve (539a32)

  42. I have to admit: the idea that we can criminalize free speech (Senator X is homosexual, and here’s the proof), simply because the intent of making that public is to get him to vote a specific way, doesn’t seem right to me.

    Freedom of speech doesn’t protect blackmail or extortion. Nor does it protect slander or defamation of character. Nor does it protect inciting to riot.

    Again, it’s not what the blackmailer says that’s illegal, it’s his attempt to force an action out of his target.

    When it comes to public figures, there might be a higher standard of proof for slander and libel, but not for blackmail.

    Steverino (9f27a3)

  43. Wow,

    I’m surprised nobody got the correct answer. Which is: the senator or congressman involved should resign (for “personal reasons”) and just slink away.

    What has been alleged is that this Congressman is giving people blowjobs in a public bathroom at Union Station.

    I could care less whether he’s Republican or Democrat. We do not pay our legislators to go to Washington to have sex in public bathrooms, whether it’s gay sex or straight sex.

    This Congressman has placed HIMSELF in the position of being blackmailable. He is a disgrace to the people he represents and he should do the right thing, even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

    As the the criminality … well, of course it’s criminal. However the blackmailer will, I predict, never see the Secret Service darken his doorway.

    RightNumberOne (11dd90)

  44. Geek, Esq. – My point, I guess, is that Sen. Chafee may be unjustly compromised if the “outer” does, in fact, say nothing further. The “outer” may chicken out about outing someone else and, thus, leave Chafee twisting in the wind.

    RJN (c3a4a3)

  45. Re: #41,

    steve, my memory is pretty good and the information provided in your linked article confirms much of what I said. See paragraph 4, in #40 above.

    Barney’s boyfriend admits running a homosexual prostitution ring, it did involve an Elementary School, and both phone calls and at least one meeting took place at the school.

    That’s from your link and it supports what I said, except that the prostitution ring operated from the school as well as from Barney’s apartment. And, I recall much discussion at the time of the proximity of schools to Barney’s residence. It’s a subject which just might come up, wouldn’t you imagine?

    But, what’s your point? Do you deny Barney Franks was accused of being involved? Or do you want to point out Chevy Chase Elementary School might be more than “a few blocks” away from Barney’s place? Really, what are you quibbling about?

    Now, the current use of homosexual blackmail as a tactic in DC politics was the topic, I remembered an instance where it happened on the floor of the House. It happened, face it, and see #2 above.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  46. Gee, life imitates are. Anyone remember “Advise and Consent”?

    The Ferret (4d4be8)

  47. He [Barney Frank] was accused of running a homosexual school boy prostitution ring from his apartment in DC. – Black Jack

    And that statement remains as bloated as ever.

    A prostitute made a couple calls and apparently set up an “escort” while phoning from a counselor’s office. The principal was canned for looking away.

    The school superintendent said yesterday only that the probe did not yield evidence of any criminal behavior by Massaro or any “improper conduct involving children or other staff members.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/tours/scandal/gobie.htm

    Unless you’re in an alternate universe, this means Frank wasn’t running a string of child hookers out of a nearby school. Clear, now? I know you’d like to have it the other way.

    Ten seconds on Google. Try it next time.

    steve (539a32)

  48. To inject a little levity into this otherwise thoughtful comment string, when I first read the headline of this post, I thought the word “gay” was the verb and “out” was an adverb, as in the leftist threatened to act more gay than the senator in question – “girlfriend, I’w WAY gayer than you!”

    Ben Pugh (1527b3)

  49. So, steve, what’s my infraction?

    Barney Frank (Democrat) was accused, but said he didn’t do it, and I mentioned that in #2 above. The homosexual prostitution ring was actually operating from an Elementary School, as well as from the Congressman’s apartment, according to your linked article.

    True, the investigation was unable to find evidence of “improper conduct involving children or other staff members” But, why the school’s principal allowed a “male prostitute to use the building at night” remains unclear. However, the male prostitute, “told the Washington Times last month that, for two months during the fall of 1987, he had used a telephone in a Chevy Chase guidance counselor’s office at night to make appointments with prostitution clients.”

    You want to minimize it and say that, “A prostitute made a couple calls…” like it was a one time event, when in fact the calls went on for “two months during the fall of 1987…” Now, steve, you aren’t making much of an effort to represent the situation accurately here.

    We all know there are telephones aplenty all over Washington, DC and in the surrounding area, as well as in the Congressman’s apartment. Why it was either necessary or expedient for Barney’s boyfriend to use the phones in an Elementary School remains a mystery, and it’s one you might want to consider.

    Now, I may be in an alternative universe from you, but the inability of investigators to find clear and convincing evidence doesn’t persuade me that Barney is blameless. Moreover, Barney’s threats to “out” Democrat leaders in the House of Representatives in retaliation for holding him accountable only further heightens my suspicions that Barney likely knew quite a bit more that he was willing to admit.

    I know you’d like to have it the other way, but I’m not going for it. And, if my kid was in that Elementary School, I’d sure as hell consider finding another school, wouldn’t you?

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  50. When and by whom was he accused of “running a homosexual school boy prostitution ring from his apartment in DC?”

    Keep it simple this time.

    The original outing came from The Washington Times, which a month earlier, also blared this:

    http://www.thelawparty.org/FranklinCoverup/WashingtonTimes.htm

    steve (539a32)

  51. “Keep it simple this time.”

    I’ll try, but don’t beat up on poor little me if I don’t satisfy your impossibly high expectations, oh, exhausted master. And, please give me another lash.

    Thanks for the new link. I had no idea the corruption was so widespread.

    As I said, I was working from memory, but information you provided shows that the KGB was using homosexual prostitutes to spy on US officials. I’m shocked, but I guess I shouldn’t be so naive.

    As for your direct question, the answer is me. It’s what I recall from the limited information available at the time. But, am I really so wide of the mark, or are you covering up and making excuses for Barney?

    Apparently, they couldn’t conclusively pin it on the Congressman, although Barney looks guilty as sin, but I still wouldn’t let my kids go to any school where anything like this was going on.

    Now, how about you answering some of my questions?

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  52. It’s been a couple of weeks now, and Mr Rogers still hasn’t “outed” the senator in question. Now he claims that he’ll do it later, when it will be the most damaging politically. Maybe the threat was bogus all along.

    Dana (71415b)

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  55. My SC Senator Lindsay Graham has been “suspected” of homosexual thoughts, if not deeds.
    But as a Republican who has been willing to confront Bush, to some extent, he’s probably safe from the ire of those sick of hypocrisy in the Republican Party.

    Frank Montgomery (71415b)

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