Elena Kagan: A lesbian smear campaign?

A blogger "outed" one of Obama's top contenders for the Supreme Court. But the White House says Kagan isn't gay. What's going on?

Solicitor General Elena Kagan.
(Image credit: Getty)

The White House cried foul last week after conservative blogger Ben Domenech, a former Bush administration aide, referred to Solicitor General Elena Kagan as "openly gay" in a post handicapping President Obama's Supreme Court choices. Obama administration officials said Kagan isn't a lesbian and issued a strong rebuke of CBS, which republished Domenech's article, saying it was enabling "people posting lies." CBS pulled the post, Domenech issued a "correction" saying Kagan is "apparently still closeted," and other sites either stuck with the gay rumor or said they'd been "hoodwinked." Was this an honest mistake, or is Kagan the target of a gay smear campaign? (Watch Elena Kagan talk about women on the Supreme Court)

The rumors need to stop: Kagen's sexual orientation (and she's apparently straight) should be a "nonissue," say Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick in Slate. But to influential conservative groups like Focus on the Family, "gay nominees are all sinful." Hopefully now that the White House has spoken, "everyone will simply shut up, as they should have in the first place, unless they have some evidence to back up their gossip."

"Don't ask, don't tell, don't matter"

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Kagan's gay friends outed her long ago: This is hilarious, says Robert Stacy McCain in The Other McCain. Ben Domenech didn't out Elena Kagan; "her gay-friendly liberal friends" did. But the White House is so desperate to paint conservatives as "hateful homophobic wingnuts" that it "automatically denied Kagan’s lesbianism as if it weren’t already a widely known fact."

"Ben Domenech accidentally 'outed' really-not-so-closeted lesbian"

Why is "lesbian" a smear? The gossip does read like "a possible attempt at a smear campaign, I guess," says Alex Pareene in Gawker, since it came from a conservative blogger once fired by The Washington Post following plagiarism allegations. But why are the White House and gay-rights groups treating lesbianism as "something incredibly untoward and terrible"? It's not like "being a successful lesbian is a crime in Barack Obama's America," right?

"White House furious at suggestion that...court nominee might be gay"

Kagan can't win: We're not in a "post-gay America" any more than we're in a "post-race" one, says JR Russell in Lez Get Real. But whether it's intended as a smear or not, the rumor is out there, and it won't go away. If Kagan "is not a lesbian, she needs to come out and say it," and "if she is gay, I believe she needs to say that too, and quickly." It's risky to out yourself, but "being chased out of the closet" looks worse.

"Elena Kagan: Between a rock and a gay place"

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