Keep sex out of politics

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2004

It’s tempting to just ignore the news of New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey’s resignation last week, and hope that its sting will just go away. The reality, however, is that there are far-reaching implications of his announcement, which extend beyond the bedroom.

From Virginia to California, few headlines, including the war in Iraq, have exceeded the news frenzy created last week on all of the major networks and in every major newspaper with a news hole to fill.

McGreevey announced-with his adorable wife at his side-that he will step down in November, and revealed in the same breath that he is gay and had an adulterous affair with a man.

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Once again, sexual orientation has seeped into another mainstream issue without the benefit of a remote correlation-of course, there’s the allegation of sexual harassment involving a former male security aide to the governor. The latter should be addressed and dealt with under federal laws created to combat sexual harassment-simply put.

But the larger McGreevey controversy begs the question: Does the world really need to know his preference for the intimate companionship of men as opposed to women? And, if McGreevey had engaged in marital impropriety with a female, would he have found it politically necessary to inform the world?

The likely answer is no. But no one can really answer this question.

One thing is for certain, sexual preference should have never been a part of McGreevey’s announcement. His was a beleaguered administration. One beset by allegations of corruption and cronyism. Even if his sexual orientation were a factor in his decision to resign, it was one that should have remained between him and his wife. It’s just good manners.

McGreevey’s problems had nothing to do with his sexuality. It was his poor judgment that got him in trouble and by linking one with the other, he has done a disservice to others of his sexual orientation who manage to serve without abusing the public trust or downright violating the law.

His coming out smacks more of a cheap attempt to divert attention from the real issues and rally some sympathy support, than it does the sincere admission of a man grappling with his demons.

Some times, there’s something to be said for &uot;don’t ask, don’t tell.&uot; This was one of those times.