Elena Kagan: Not Gay After All?
A few weeks back, in a post titled “Elena Kagan Lesbian Rumor Smear Neither Smear Nor Rumor,” I weighed in on the kerfuffle surrounding Ben Domenech’s “outing” of the then-prospective Supreme Court nominee as gay. The essence of the piece is that, according to several credible accounts, Kagan was widely known in both Cambridge and Washington as having a female partner and, really, what was the fuss all about?
Now, however, there’s a new pushback, reported by Politico‘s Ben Smith, by Kagan’s friends insisting that she’s straight and just hasn’t found the right guy yet.
Elena Kagan is not a lesbian, one of her best friends told POLITICO Tuesday night, responding to persistent rumors and innuendo about the Supreme Court nominee’s personal life.
“I’ve known her for most of her adult life and I know she’s straight,” said Sarah Walzer, Kagan’s roommate in law school and a close friend since then. “She dated men when we were in law school, we talked about men — who in our class was cute, who she would like to date, all of those things. She definitely dated when she was in D.C. after law school, when she was in Chicago — and she just didn’t find the right person.”
Another friend, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, a member of Kagan’s social circle at Princeton University, wanted to make the same point as Walzer. “I did not go out with her, but other guys did,” he said in an email Tuesday night. “I don’t think it is my place to say more.”
Media Matters‘ Jamison Foser, apparently writing before Smith’s piece came out, notes that the White House issued an anonymously sourced statement at the outset that Kagan is straight and asserts that “Absent any convincing evidence to the contrary — and no, rumors and rumors about rumors don’t count as convincing evidence — the unambiguous statements of White House officials should put the speculation to rest.” The problem with that is that the “rumors” were repeated assertions that Kagan was routinely seen in public with a female partner and made no attempt to hide her orientation, instead residing in what a Pam’s House Blend commentator, who claims to “live in Cambridge and have known people who work as staff in the Harvard Law School and library [who] had seen her with her partner,” terms “the soft closet.”
At this, point, I’m not sure what to believe.
It would be odd, indeed, for people close to Kagan to be coming out and defending her from “charges” that she’s gay if she is in fact a semi-open lesbian. At most, you’d think they’d simply rail about the unfairness of delving into her private life and asserting that it’s nobody’s business. But, then, why do so many people claim that she was living a decidedly non-straight lifestyle in Cambridge? Surely, it’s not just her short hair and pants suits. Homosexuality is less likely to raise an eyebrow in Cambridge than open expression of Christian belief.
Does it matter? I think so. Sexual orientation is at least as much a part of one’s identity as race, ethnicity, and religion — all of which we openly talk about with Supreme Court nominees. Few of us care about a nominee’s sex life, per se, which is surely none of our business. But to the extent it shapes a person’s worldview, it’s a reasonable topic of conversation.