Is Sen. Craig Gay? Does It Matter?

I’ve never been to Idaho, but it doesn’t sound like the most hospitable state for gays and lesbians.  Yet, State Rep. Nicole LeFavour (D-Boise), a lesbian, was elected by her constituents in 2004 and serves her state openly and honestly.  Some 20 other states still have no openly gay or lesbian state legislators, so that’s saying something.  Nicole was drawn to public service, but was unwilling to hide and lie--and that, as they say, has made all the difference.

The truth is most Americans don’t care much about the sexual orientation of their representatives, so long as their representatives trust them enough to be honest.  A recent Zogby poll commissioned by the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute found that roughly 70% of respondents would vote for an openly gay or lesbian candidate if they agreed with his or her political views.  The numbers weren’t much different among Republicans and Democrats.

I don’t know if Senator Craig is gay, nor do I know if any current member of the Senate is closeted, but it will not be long before an openly gay Senator wins a seat in that august body.  And while that will be tremendous step forward, it will be no big deal if one of a handful of openly gay congressional candidates wins a seat in the House next year.  Once broken, barriers tend to bore us.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) often uses a line I think broadly sums up the attitude of the electorate on this issue:  Most Americans aren’t homophobic; they just think they’re supposed to be.  Until, that is, they meet public servants like Nicole LeFavour.