Representative Mark Kirk had better get his Gaydar tuned. On two recent occasions, Kirk has severely underestimated the number of gays in his life. Like estimated zero.
It may just be a "see-no/hear-no" approach to things that bring him discomfort, but while Kirk's ex-wife Kim Vertolli, who served with Kirk in the Navy, recalls being aware of gay or lesbian servicemembers during her service, Mark does not seem to be aware of any gays or lesbians in the service. Perhaps he's just blind to the subtle clues; even some gay folks I know are. However, he may also be covering his bases over his vote in the US House against ending the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly gay servicemembers. Its kind of hard to do that in good conscience if you've served next to totally capable, credible and hard-working LGBT service members. Best to sweep that under the rug and pretend its not there.
More disturbing, however, is the fact that Kirk apparently thinks there are no gay people in his district, apparently because it is an "overwhelmingly suburban district." Here is the 10th district:
Um, I don't know about you, but almost all of the gay people I know grew up in the suburbs. In addition, almost all of the gay people that I went to college with are now getting hitched and moving to the suburbs (watch out, Congressman Kirk--there goes your neighborhood).
This district is smack in the middle of one of America's largest metropolitan districts: Chicago. There is no way that there are no gay people in his district. In fact, the President of Log Cabin Republicans Illinois came back to in fact say "There are a lot of Log Cabin members in Illinois; there are hundreds, maybe thousands, in Congressman Kirk's district."
There might be another explanation for this extreme uneasiness with the LGBT element clearly all around Congressman Kirk. For years, rumors have circulated questioning the Congressman's sexual orientation. Certainly such rumors have damaging effects on the psyche. When faced with such accusations, its well known that men generally react to the extreme in the opposite direction: study after study shows that homophobia is an exaggerated response to distress over being faced with the notion that one might be gay, whether this question is external or internal. There are lots of scientific explanations, but for the sake of simplicity, we'll call it overcompensating.
Because Representative Kirk does not want to be associated with gays, he is becoming increasingly more abrasive toward the gay issue. This is unfortunate. This man had supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act since he first ran in 1999, and is listed as a co-sponsor still. He may have been one of the more gay-friendly Republicans in the legislature, joining his fellow Illinoisian GOP Representative, Judy Biggert, on more bills. However, Kirk is pushing in the other direction.
Perhaps this is Mark Kirk's way of showing the world, 'See, I'm not gay--if I were gay, would I vote against my own rights? If I were gay, wouldn't I know that there were gay people in the Navy or in my own neighborhood?'
Whatever the reason, we don't need paranoia and self-consciousness to rule the decision-making process of a US Senator. Especially when it comes to the rights of good Americans who he may not be comfortable associating with, but deserve those rights regardless of his feelings. After all, we already have one Lindsey Graham.
Here is the transcript of the DADT portion of that video with Kirk:
Ed Board: Let me bring up "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and you haven't
taken a position on that?
MSK: I have. I voted against it because I think we should wait until
the Joint Chiefs of Staff report in December. The US Military is one
of the most complicated, widespread organizations on earth, and if
you're going to make a change in policy, it has to be implemented by a
senior NCOs and junior officers in all 24 time zones.
Ed Board: Am I correct in saying that if you wait the election will
change the equation and it won't be able to pass anyway?
MSK: No, you know the President is the Commander in Chief and he will
be the Commander in Chief in December.
Ed Board: But legislative support would shift against it very quickly
after Nov. 2nd, correct?
MSK: I mean, the President decided and Secretary Gates decided to set
the deadline for the Joint Chiefs in Dec. and the Joint Chiefs are
reporting in December and it's clear that Secretary Gates wanted to
wait till Dec.
Ed Board: Do you think that your military experience have an opinion
about whether DADT is something that the military should continue?
MSK: I'm fine with leaving it in place but if there's a proposal to
change and Joint Chiefs of Staffs have issued a detailed report, I'm
going to read every...
Ed Board: I'm wondering about you're own experiences in the military,
do you have any experiences , do you have any base on experience to
MSK: No, it's never come up, it's never come up.
Ed Board: Really? You've got more military experience than anyone
that's walked into this room.
Ed Board: A long time.
Ed Board: If any body should have a strong view, I guess, whether this
could be destructive or not, I would think you would, perhaps you
could just say yes or no.
MSK: [stutters] it has not come up in my military career experience.
Ed Board: So therefore, that would seem to argue that it should be
okay. I mean in other words based on that military experience can yo
take a position?
MSK: Yea, my position has been to support the current policy until the
Joint Chiefs report and then I'm gonna read every word.
I'm just not so sure he's being real with us here. Ahh well.