CBS Writer Questions White House Pushback on Kagan ‘Outing’

New Ledger editor Ben Domenech wonders, in the Huffington Post, why the White House is trying so vigorously to "un-out" Elena Kagan, whether or not she's actually gay.

Kagan  Writes Domenech:

I erroneously believed that Ms. Kagan was openly gay not because of, as Stein describes it, a "whisper campaign" on the part of conservatives, but because it had been mentioned casually on multiple occasions by friends and colleagues — including students at Harvard, Hill staffers, and in the sphere of legal academia — who know Kagan personally. And as the reaction from Julian Sanchez and Matt Yglesias shows, I was not alone in that apparently inaccurate belief.

Look, it's 2010 — no one should care if a nominee to any position is gay. The fact that conservative Senators John Cornyn and Jeff Sessions have recently expressed openness to confirming an openly gay nominee to the Court is a good thing. Senators should look at things that actually matter — evaluating a nominee's decisions, approach to the law, their judgment and ability — to see whether there are actually good and relevant reasons to oppose the nomination. That's all.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt described the 'lesbian' moniker as a "false charge" while Anita Dunn balked that an "old stereotype" would be applied to describe a woman with a successful career.

Says Domenech: "It's an odd thing to get attacked by the White House for a blog post, and odder still when the attack is for something mentioned in passing, and intended to highlight a political positive about a potential Supreme Court nominee…one need not look too far for arguments being made on left-wing blogs that it would be an affirmative good to appoint a lesbian."


  1. mike128 says


    We know that anyone nominated for the court keeps quiet about ANYTHING that could be deemed as controversial. The potential justices won’t give their opinions on abortion, civil rights, death penalty. And you dont think that being identified as lesbian is going to affect the outcome of this confirmation?

    I would LOVE a lesbian on the court. But being identified as ANYTHING other than 100% non-descript (with the exception fo racial minority, which makes the candidate politically more difficult to attack) will immediately kill the nomination and anyone who follows politics knows that.

  2. Butch says

    I think you should check the guy out before you spend too much time defending him, Andy. He’s the speechwriter who compared gay marriage to the right to marry a box turtle.

  3. Sam says

    I agree with Butch. Andy, this is not a guy you should be defending. He has an extrmely questionable background and has written false information many times before. Whether Kagan is gay is not the point, this guy is scum and I would question his motives on all of this.

  4. jvogel says

    I don’t see how Andy was defending him. Just because the post didn’t contain irrational hate and condemnation but, instead, a simple quote from the man, doesn’t mean he’s being defended.

  5. wm135 says

    Agreed re: bullshit. How could you be so gullible re: Ben Domenech or his intentions? Use the google: the guy is a compulsive, unrepentant and serial right-wing plagiarist who hid in the gutter for a couple years and is now back at it, trafficking in what he freely admits were “rumors.” Whether or not he posted this in his blog isn’t the whole issue: the bigger issue is that CBS reprinted his writing blindly without fact-checking it on their own.

    And really, as for his motivations, do you truly believe he commented on her sexuality for any other reason than to stoke some controversy about her? He is a frothing right-winger. His defense is disgustingly disingenuous, and it’s disappointing that you’ve reprinted it here without any deeper analysis.

  6. Michael @ says

    His motives are beside the point: the White House is treating saying someone is gay like saying they’re alcoholics or druggies. Of course, THEY can attack their gay critics, even ones who played a huge role in getting them elected, like Steve Hildebrand, for being “sick” [he suffers from depression].

    But back to Kagan: why IS she still publicly closeted in 20 fucking 10? And, even if she wasn’t, like out OPM Director Brian Bond who is still defying the federal judge’s order to let a lesbian court employee buy insurance for her partner, WHY should we support her when she’s the equivalent of one of those gay politicians who deserve to be outed when they work against gay rights?

    Is a publicly closeted Democrat who FIGHTS TO KEEP DADT any more deserving of our protection or support for the Court than a closeted gay Republican who did the same thing would?????????

    Is ELENA KAGAN’s HYPOCRISY in suddenly switching last Spring from years of personally fighting DADT, including joining a lawsuit against it, to DEFENDING IT IN COURT only because ObamaRahm gave her the plum Solicitor General’s job something gay media and the community should ignore?

    Obama has been attacked by gay media for having abandoned his years-ago support for marriage equality the closer he got to running for President. Is ELENA KAGAN’s HYPOCRISY in defending DADT to be ignored because she MIGHT be close to being nominated for the very Court she convinced last year to let stand a ruling upholding DADT?

    Last year closeted ELENA KAGAN told the Supremes that the lower court “PROPERLY UPHELD” Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in ruling against the lawsuit by DADT victim Jim Pietrangelo who was arrested at the White House last month with Dan Choi.

    Closeted ELEAN KAGAN insisted that the bar on gays serving openly is “RATIONALLY related to the government’s LEGITIMATE interest in military DISCIPLINE and COHESION.”

    Thus, closeted ELENA KAGAN, was saying that out gays would HURT military discipline and cohesion….the SAME argument as John McShame and Elaine Donnelly and Sam Nunn and the Marine Commandant and Gen. Mixon and Gen. Pace and the old dinosaur who blamed GENOCIDE in Bosnia on Dutch gay troops.

    But BEFORE she got that golden White House job and an entry in Star Search for the Supremes closeted Kagan was helping SUE THE GOVERNMENT over DADT HERSELF!

    As Dean of Harvard Law School she banned military recruiters because of DADT for years, saying

    Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a “wrong [that] tears at the fabric of our own community,” and it’s a “DISCRIMINATORY employment policy,” and “I BELIEVE THAT POLICY IS PROFOUNDLY WRONG—both unwise and unjust—and I look forward to the day when all our students, regardless of sexual orientation, will be able to serve and defend this country in the armed services.”

    Well, apparently closeted Kagan stopped looking forward to that day when she started looking forward to being on the Supreme Court.

    Where is it written that homopocrisy by ELENA KAGAN while SHE’s working against other gay people’s rights is ok but the same by the Larry Craigs or Charlie Crists or Mark Foleys of the world or that self-loathing Sacramento queen in the CA legislature isn’t?

  7. marcel says

    for real people, lack of offense is not defense. Andy is in the business of reporting news, not attacking public personalities. That’s what all you commentors are for…

    Personally, I like that Andy is refraining from twisting every news story into a weapon with which to attack those he disagrees with. After all, this isn’t Fox News.

  8. says

    Give me a break mike. We all know very well the relationship status of every member of the court as many (or all?) are publicly sanctioned by marriage. We also know the shocking facts about whether they have kids, grandkids, etc. Knowing that Kagan is single, or partnered, or married is as controversial as a tuna fish sandwich. The fact that the white house characterizes the mention of that status as slanderous and “false charges” of “stereotypes” shows just what they think of gay and lesbian reltationships. and we’re talking about very senior advisers to the president, like Dunn. No doubt Domenech’s intentions were malicious, but the administration fell for his trap hook line and sinker. He gets to spread the word to the wingnuts that Kagan is gay AND he makes the administration look homophobic and reactionary. Score two for the bad guys.

  9. Jon says

    Do the comments reveal what the administration thinks about gay and lesbian people, or what they know their political opponents think? Whoever they nominate, they have to get 60 votes to clear a filibuster, which means at least one (and possibly a couple more) Republicans need to vote for the nominee.

    And I don’t believe Elena Kagan is a hypocrite for doing her job as Solicitor General. An attorney argues their client’s position, even if the attorney disagrees with it.

  10. Jonathan says

    The reality of the situation is that Kagan is indeed a lesbian. The other reality is that she is a right wing freak when it comes to many things including executive power and we don’t want her anywhere NEAR the Supreme Court. If she is nominated I hopes she gets fillibustered out of existence.

  11. JimSur212Jim says

    What does the White House mean by a “false charge?” It makes being gay or lesbian sound like something bad that needs to be defended against. Even if she is not a lesbian, it would simply be an inaccurate statement, but it would not be a “false charge.” People don’t get “charged” with being gay anymore in this country.

  12. Michael @ says

    @ Jon:

    “And I don’t believe Elena Kagan is a hypocrite for doing her job as Solicitor General. An attorney argues their client’s position, even if the attorney disagrees with it.”????

    While a common argument, it is still sophomoric. You’re conflating criminal defense with defense of the government.

    But in EITHER case, there is ALWAYS a choice. No one held a gun to her head and said, “Lie about DADT or we’ll blow your brains out”….it’s just she knew the candle she’d lit hoping for a 24 kt. gold job would go out if she followed her conscience.

    And, as in ALL of the FIVE other ODOJ suits defending DADT, and in their brief defending DOMA, legal experts have repeatedly pointed out that they could have simply spoken to legal procedure issues such as “standing” rather than going out of their way to employ the same kind of homophobic justifications used to pass the laws in the first place.

    Second, she could have passed and assigned a subordinate to write the brief.

    If she isn’t deserving of condemnation for CHOOSING to enforce the law simply to protect her own career than we owe an apology to the descendents of those we hung after the Nuremberg Trials who chose to follow what was legal in Germany at the time. And fuck anyone reaching for the cretinous so-called “Godwin’s Law.”

    One either makes the moral choice or one doesn’t, regardless of the level of its import.

  13. kyle michel sullivan says

    Domenech is a lying cunt who deliberately started a whispering campaign against Elena Kagan in order to have this very pushback happen. That he’s got the unmitigated nerve to wonder “why” about the pushback shows his hypocrisy at it’s nastiest. He wanted it. He got it. He’s happy as one of his fucking box-turtles. And he needs to be slapped.

  14. carl says

    I want to echo Jim…’s comments above: Did a White House representative actually refer to an assertion that Kagan is a lesbian is a “charge”? Did that really happen? I want to be believe that’s not true. If it is, it’s unbelievably offensive. Being gay/lesbian is not something you “accuse” someone of being.

    Is it 1400 or 2010?

  15. says

    One more thing I want to know is how did the White House know that Kagan isn’t a lesbian? As has been pointed out, traditionally the White House refrains from asking questions of possible nominees that might be seen as a litmus test for them. If Kagan is apparently single, and publicly isn’t involved with anyone, how the hell did they know she’s NOT a lesbian?

  16. Ed says

    Exactly, kyle michel sullivan. This is about a writer who is a Republican/right winger who has written things that are completely inaccurate for political gain. Whether Kagan is gay or not does not change that this writer is not trustworthy in any way.

    All the over reaction over the White House comment makes it seem that people forget that there are openly gay people working in lots of positions in the Obama Administration.

  17. Rhydderch says

    Maybe the White House shouldn’t have pushed back at all, that way Fox News and Rush would have all week to portray Kagen as a lesbian. The White House stay silent and the republicans completely own the issue. Don’t take the bait people

  18. says

    The White House already took the bait. The proper thing to do would have been for Kagan herself to let CBS know there was an error on their site. I’m sure they would have quietly printed a correction and this story would have gone nowhere. However, the White House’s outrageous over the top (and yes, homophobic) reaction just makes them look like idiots. Anyone remember when Sen. Boxer mentioned casually that Condi Rice didn’t have any children serving in Iraq? the right wing went nuts and so called “progressives” said that the reaction to the innocuous comment revealed the right’s rabid homophobia. What’s the difference now? They use us to score points, plain and simple. It is time to face the fact that we have no political allies. Not even gay advocacy groups. It is time to take our movement back to the streets, despite what self-interested slimebags like Barney Frank or Joe Solmonese say. The truth is they dont’ give a shit about your rights. they only care about their own wealth and power. Frank is one of the most powerful members of congress, yet our civil rights movement goes nowhere. Wake up people.

  19. says

    I don’t work in the legal field but living in Cambridge it isn’t rare to meet people who work in the Harvard Law Library and they used to comment how heartening it was that Kagan was out and people knew her partner and so on. So this particular development is very baffling. I hope the next generation doesn’t see things like this and start to view coming out as a lack of impulse control and poor career judgment. I blame Kagan. She’s done the worst possible thing.

  20. NoRadical says

    Gay folks need to stop freaking out about sh*t like this. Who cares how Kagan identifies, or if she wants it incorporated in her professional evaluations. We can all agree to disagree on the diversity of the sexual spectrum without being shocked, SHOCKED *drops monocle* at the behavior of this terribly repressive White House.

    Cracking down on Obama’s record as a continuation of the Bush era is far more productive than this pseudo-revolt we’re seeing among completely disconnected progressives.

  21. bobleigh says

    What is the whitehouse trying to hide now — This woman’s sexual preference? Wonder where she stands on abortion? – ha! – like all liberals they like to hide their true beliefs and lack of a moral compass.

Leave A Reply