Elizabeth Birch of the Human Rights campaign (HRC) has been accused of outing a member of Congress by telling the story of an anti-gay congressman who, eight years ago, privately asked her how people know if they are gay, and stated that he had “loved men”.
At a Gay Pride Forum in Washington, D.C. on June 3, Birch was commenting on reaching out to foes of gay rights. She said that in 1995 she and HRC then-Political Director Daniel Zingale had met with an unnamed conservative Republican congressman, who had been “derisive and demeaning” in his attacks on gay rights legislation.
Birch said that the politician held her and Zingale back after the meeting, and when his staff had left, he asked them, “So how do you know?… You know, how do you know if you’re that way?”
Birch said that the meeting took place shortly after the congressman had created a controversy in 1995 when he referred to gays as “homos” on the floor of the House of Representatives. The Washington Blade says that media reports and background facts indicate that the congressman was Randall (“Duke”) Cunningham, “an arch-conservative from San Diego”. Cunningham was apparently the only member of the House who called gays “homos” on the House
floor at the time.
Two gay Democratic activists in San Diego confirmed the first week in July that Birch told members of that city’s Democratic Club a nearly identical story in 1996, at that time directly identifying Cunningham. Harmony Allen, Cunningham’s press secretary, stated that Cunningham never met with Birch and never made any comments about loving men. She said the Democratic activists lack credibility and are motivated by political gain.
Cunningham has always been considered one of the most virulently anti-gay members of Congress. HRC gives him 17 points out of a possible 100 in their current congressional scorecard.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), who has been on the receiving end of Cunningham’s homophobia, said, “He tends to blurt out stuff on gay issues. He seems to be more interested in discussing homosexuality than most homosexuals.”
So it seems that perhaps David Dreier is not the only self-loathing closeted gay Congressman from Southern California.
What makes this double-good fun is that Cunninghams' chestnuts are being roasted on an open fire for reasons totally unrelated to his apparent sexual hypocrisy. Josh Marshall has been all over the sale of Cunningham's house (at roughly 2X market) to a defense contractor who just happened to score a large deal afterwards, and who also owns the yacht Cunningham has been living on when in Washington. Homophobic AND gay AND corrupt? Priceless.
And the best part about outing a virulent homophobe is that it will reinforce the "gay bashers are actually self-loathing queers" meme, which if nothing else should shame a bunch of them into shutting the hell up.