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:

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.