Is it okay to ask if someone is gay?

Andrew Sullivan has been driving this point home: if you really think there's nothing wrong with being gay, why is not okay to ask about it? Why shouldn't we ask Elena Kagan if she is gay?

I think he's right to a certain extent. Certainly the Obama administration was acting like there was something wrong with it when they smacked the press for asking the question.

But I don't think that it's true that if an action or property of a person is value-neutral, then it cannot be private. One might think being gay is value-neutral and still want to keep it private. Shame is not the only reason why one does not share all the details of one's personal life. There are plenty of things that are value-neutral and private. How often someone goes to the bathroom. How frequently someone has sex with his or her spouse. Whether someone has ever doubted her faith in God. Whether someone is no longer in love with his spouse. Whether someone resents her parents. Etc.Some of these might actually influence how someone votes on the Supreme Court.

If I were gay, I'd doubt I'd keep it quiet. But Kagan has chosen to. It is certainly reasonable that one might not want to divulge to whom one is attracted. It's a plausible candidate for privacy. Given that she seems to want to keep it private, I see no reason to ask her about it. And that is not because I think there is anything wrong with being gay.

1 comment:

  1. Whether or not Elena Kagan is gay is not material, here, I think. Whoever said/published the statement/question did so to boost the power of the ultra-conservative right in the Senate, for gaming, to boost anti-Administration sentiment. What I hope is that this move was/is a sign that the ultra-conservative right is getting weaker and weaker every day.