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Houston Voice, July 2, 2004
File 008
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Houston Voice, July 2, 2004 - File 008. 2004-07-02. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 16, 2017. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2139/show/2117.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(2004-07-02). Houston Voice, July 2, 2004 - File 008. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2139/show/2117

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Voice, July 2, 2004 - File 008, 2004-07-02, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 16, 2017, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2139/show/2117.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Voice, July 2, 2004
Contributor
  • Crain, Chris
  • Fisher, Binnie
Publisher Window Media
Date July 2, 2004
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 31485329
Rights In Copyright: This item is protected by copyright. Copyright to this resource is held by the creator or current rights holder, and the resource is provided here for educational purposes. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without permission of the copyright owner. Users assume full responsibility for any infringement of copyright or related rights.
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 008
Transcript HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com JULY 2, 2004 7 national news Outing rumor sparks panic on Capitol Hill Closeted staffers scrambling in wake of activist campaign By ADRIAN BRUNE WASHINGTON Their center of operations occupies not one, but two top-floor apartments located directly across from each other in a nondescript Adams Morgan high-rise, where the two friends and activists have both lived for years. Their information comes to them via a network of insiders, mostly planted at various gay and lesbian bars across Washington. And their modus operandi for fighting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage consists of well- placed phone calls to closeted congressional aides who work for members supportive of the amendment, declaring their intent to publicly reveal the aides' sexual orientation. From that high-rise, with a view of the nation's epicenter of public policy, the ongoing outing campaign loosely headed by gay activists Michael Rogers and John Aravosis evoked panic and precaution behind the Capitol's closed doors last week, signifying the resurrected, yet still controversial, tactic's scope and impact. The reactions on the Hill came in various formats: e-mails from staffers of prominent gay advocacy groups to anonymous lists of Hill employees warning them of impending outings; admonitions against the practice in public forums and on television; and meetings between Senate chiefs of staff and aides that reaffirmed office nondiscrimination or zero- tolerance policies. The responses Rogers said he received ranged from "donations to death threats." but both he and Aravosis said they are undeterred in their pursuit to expose what they call the duplicity of policymakers pushing for the Federal Marriage Amendment. "In the words of Harvey Milk, 'Let the bullet that pierces my brain blow open every closet door,'" Rogers said. "We are engaging in an activist campaign that educates people; it makes them aware of the hypocrisy of America's right wing. "This is not about kids who are folding the mail or answering the phones because their parents suggested they come work for O MORE INFO Senate GLASS Caucus www.senateglass.org Human Rights Campaign 1640 Rhode Island Ave., NW Washington, DC 20036-3278 202-628-4160 www.hrc.org the government. This is about highly visible people — press secretaries, legislative directors, chiefs of staff — people who influence leaders and put a face to their policies." News about the activists' outing efforts, which they said has grown from six to 13 offices in less than 10 days, began to spread through downtown Washington by word of mouth early in the week of June 21, sources from several gay advocacy groups said, landing in Capitol office buildings shortly thereafter. An e-mail memorandum sent by Human Rights Campaign lobbyist Matthew McTighe to a group of gay government professionals warned that the Washington Blade, a publication affiliated with the Houston Voice, planned on publishing a story listing the names of closeted congressional staffers. "We're hearing that the Blade may run a story tomorrow listing the names of gay staff members from the White House or who work for members who support the FMA," McTighe wrote. "We're doing everything we can to stop it from happening, but frankly there's only so much an organization like HRC can do to stop the Blade or any other activists from doing this." A spokesperson for HRC said McTighe obtained his information from Hill aides who reportedly received phone calls from an activist impersonating a Washington Blade reporter, asking questions about the personal lives of aides and alleging that he or she was outing people in an article. Rogers insisted that he had never impersonated a reporter in his outing campaign. "I am a strong believer in an independent media and would never misrepresent myself as a member of [the Blade] or any other publication," Rogers wrote in an e- mail. "As you know, our campaign focuses on informing people of the truth, not covering up who we are and lying." Outing mania The political newspaper the Hill also contributed to the discussions among the inner circle of gay congressional aides by publishing an article on June 24 headlined. "If you're gay, you're out!" Local TV news programs also pounced on the outing rumors, with CBS affiliate WUSA and Fox station WTTG airing stories on the subject last week. Newsweek's Washington bureau contacted the Washington Blade about the rumor but did not publish an article on the subject. "We received a significant number of phone calls reporting that the Blade was publishing this article," said HRC spokesperson Steven Fisher. "Our staffer [McTighe] sent off an e-mail to some of the people on his contact list that this may be happening, and that we were looking into it and trying to block it." HRC President Cheryl Jacques also con- HRC President Cheryl Jacques told gay Senate staffer that she had heard a rumor that the Blade was preparing to out gay congressional staffers. firmed at a luncheon sponsored by two gay congressional associations that she, too, had heard a rumor about a pending article in the Blade outing gay Hill staffers. In fact, HRC never contacted the newspaper to verify the existence of an outing story. "I can confirm that at no time has the Blade staff discussed, assigned or worked on an article that would 'out' gay congressional staffers," said Chris Crain, executive editor of the Blade and the Houston Voice, who also outlined the circumstances under which both papers might consider such a story "Public officials and public figures are routinely asked on the record by the Blade to identify their sexual orientation, and their response is published, even if the response is to refuse to answer the question." he said. "The Blade would investigate the veracity of such a response only under unique circumstances in which the story subject's sexual orientation would present issues of hypocrisy that are highly newsworthy" Responding to the rumor, some aides fearful of losing their jobs contacted other Hill staffers, such as Lynden Armstrong, a founder of the Gay, Lesbian & Allies Senate Staff Caucus, to ask for resources to prepare for their outing. Many chiefs of staff among the handful of senators and representatives who have signed sexual orientation nondiscrimination policies held office-wide meetings to notify employees of that policy. Dole reassures staff Several senators whose offices do not have nondiscrimination policies also met with staffers to express their general tolerance of gay employees, HRC said. Among those was Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C). according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity Dole opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment; her office did not respond to interview requests. But the offices of members of Congress with strong records opposing gay rights subtly re-enforced their objections to having openly gay employees, leaving them "very nervous about [the outing]." according to Armstrong. "I emphasized to friends and colleagues who called me that I didn't think they should panic and pre-empt the outing by outing themselves," Armstrong said. "All of this was still a ways from landing in the lap of a member who has no connections in the gay community or thinks that he or she doesn't have any connections in the gay community." The Washington Blade hit newsstands June 25 without an article outing congressional staffers. But in Adams Morgan, the actual outing campaign continues. Rogers said the activists, now up to a loose contingent of 15, have decided to take a different course in their outing endeavor. Rogers said he first ascertains whether members of Congress who back the FMA also have an active anti-gay agenda. If so, Rogers will not reveal a gay aide's sexual orientation to the office. If not. Rogers said he will go through with the outing — a tactic opposed by the HRC and most other gay advocacy groups. "I think that outing an individual is only appropriate when that individual is in a position to make law or policy and makes anti-gay policy. It's totally inappropriate in any other situation," said Matt Foreman, the executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. "But the Federal Marriage Amendment is not going anywhere. So to resort to this kind of behavior for a piece of legislation that's not going anywhere is troublesome." Foreman said. Rogers said he continues to contact several offices each week. According to Rogers. a senior legislative aide in the office of U.S. Rep. Max Burns (R-Ga.), an FMA proponent, is the latest person to come out prompted by Rogers' overt persuasion. Across the hall, John Aravosis continues to call for the names of more gay and lesbian staffers through his Web site. For now, the activists said they aren't planning on abandoning what they have called the most effective way of furthering gay rights. "We have accepted for far too long fellow gays who work for horribly anti gay politicians and thus help those politicians bash our community," Aravosis said. "It's time we stopped tolerating this situation as normal. These people need, at the very least, to be confronted over their hypocrisy, and when we see them in public we ought to tell them we don't approve."
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