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Ed Koch: Elena Kagan Sexuality Debate Shows Need for ENDA

In a Huffington Post piece, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch says "the White House [should] have denounced the speculation [around Elena Kagan's sexuality] and conveyed that such inquiries are improper" rather than denying it. He also says the speculation should help ENDA pass Koch sponsored similar legislation in the 70's).

Writes Koch: Koch  

By denying she is lesbian instead of denouncing the inquiry, the White House is implicitly stating sexual orientation is a legitimate issue of discussion in the confirmation process.

On the positive side, raising the issue of Ms. Kagan's sexual orientation may give more support to Barney Frank's bill with 198 co-sponsors in the House and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon with a similar bill and 45 co-sponsors barring employment discrimination by the federal government against people because of their sexual identity. Only 20 states in the Union - New York being one of them - have such legislation. The current debate regarding Ms. Kagan's candidacy demonstrates the imperative of passing such legislation. How many U.S. Senators now considering Ms. Kagan's nomination will vote for such legislation? Write to yours and let's find out. Also, ask your member of Congress.

Koch, of course, is familiar with this territory. The former mayor has said it's unacceptable for people to ask if he's gay since the 70's, when placards surfaced in his mayoral race against Mario Cuomo that said "Vote for Cuomo, not the homo!"

At the time of the Cuomo allegations, Koch said: "No, I am not a homosexual. If I were a homosexual, I would hope I would have the courage to say so. What's cruel is that you are forcing me to say I am not a homosexual. This means you are putting homosexuals down. I don't want to do that."

Koch also expressed anger a year ago at how he was portrayed in Kirby Dick's film Outrage, which outed closeted politicians — not because the film said he's gay (which it did), but because he said the film defiled his record (the film claims his record on AIDS and gay rights was virtually nonexistent). 

Said Koch to Page 6: "It's a [bleep]ing outrage. Bella Abzug and I, in the early '70s, introduced in Congress a bill that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation...And when we later said the law applied to contractors doing business with the city, the Catholic Church and the Salvation Army sued me. In 1984, I was the first mayor to march in the Gay Pride Parade. I was the first mayor to appoint openly gay judges."

Koch is a lifelong bachelor.

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  1. But not the first mayor to be out about his sexuality. And if I recall what I've heard correctly, he unleashed a horde of deeply mentally unstable and impaired people onto the streets when he closed down the mental health facilities in the name of cost cutting.

    Posted by: TANK | May 18, 2010 2:03:19 PM

  2. So for the record, is Koch a 'mo or not???

    This is a news and gossip site as well, after all....

    Posted by: Marty | May 18, 2010 2:16:42 PM

  3. Bella Abzug. What a piece of work. Just reading her name brought a smile to my face... and a hat to my head.

    Posted by: kansastock | May 18, 2010 2:23:34 PM

  4. See "Outrage" to learn the whole said Koch story. His lover died of AIDS alone.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | May 18, 2010 2:53:20 PM

  5. I blame Reagan a hell of a lot more than I would ever blame Koch for nonexistent help for PWA's in the 80's.

    At least Koch tried...Reagan wouldn't even utter the word AIDS until Rock Hudson died.

    Posted by: Myackie | May 18, 2010 4:25:54 PM

  6. Ed Koch can continue his commentary and live his life this way as so many of his generation...especially politicians and actors of his generation.
    So he's not openly homosexual...but he definitively "misspoke" when he said..."I am not a homosexual"
    It takes COURAGE to come out.
    Koch has none...

    Posted by: MCnNYC | May 18, 2010 4:37:27 PM

  7. I think most people assumed he never married because of his ugly mug.

    Posted by: anon | May 18, 2010 5:31:55 PM

  8. Ed is mixed bag. He's done some good things, but he's full of shit. I've seen his ass in the Village brunching it up with a bunch of queens. Outrage really told some shit about him.

    Posted by: reynoldo | May 18, 2010 6:39:48 PM

  9. Koch is brutally honest. That offends people's sensibilities, both on the right and the left.

    Posted by: James | May 18, 2010 7:08:48 PM

  10. The last thing in the world Koch is is honest. When he was mayor, it seemed every week or two he was traipsing around town with Bess Myerson (if anyone remembers her) to give him hetero credentials. To this day he refuses to acknowledge his homo status. But then, just like Obama's mouthpieces, Koch publicly denied he was gay. Didn't say, "none of your business, it has nothing to do with the job of mayor." He denied it. And so what he is saying now is laughably hypocritical. What is especially odd is that everybody over the age of 12 knew about Koch's orientation- or as we called it then - "preference." And he was still enormously popular. He could have promoted much good will and understanding between straights and gays then, but noooooo.....

    Posted by: ProfessorVP | May 19, 2010 1:47:35 AM

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