January 10, 2006

If You're a Public Official, Get Real

One of the main themes I write about is how God wants us to be true to Him and also true to how He made us. I think of the New Testament example of the Pharisees, the keepers of the religious law whose sanctimonious actions were not representative of their hardened hearts. It was all about appearances with the Pharisees, and there are numerous examples in the Gospels of Jesus teaching how and why this was wrong. Actions don't mean anything in the kingdom of heaven if they don't have pure motives. Jesus had no tolerance for phonies.

When I look at the legislators and other public officials who will be involved in deciding issues of critical importance to GLBT individuals, I see a lot of people Jesus would have no tolerance for. There are far too many law makers and policy shapers who portray themselves as something they are not; loving family men/women who are having affairs, successful business leaders who obtain that status by using unscrupulous methods, and people who have portrayed their views one way to gain their office then act in a different manner.

I'm sure we can all agree about the damage people like this do to the process of forming and maintaining public policy. I would like to add one more group to this list--gays and lesbians who are in the closet.

I've heard the rationalization for this--a GLBT individual can do more to help the community's causes from the inside, and it's easier to gain that position if people think they are straight. That is, at least in most cases, probably true, but that does not make it right. How is that any better than the politician who campaigns with his wife and kids and sneaks out with his mistress when the cameras are off? Why do politicians who gain office by staying in the closet deserve more respect than ones who lied and cheated on the campaign trail to get there?

In my view, it is not any better and they don't deserve any more respect. The most important qualities I want in political leadership are intelligence, honesty, and sincerety. Too often in this country, the second and third items are severely compromised if not entirely ignored. I want to know what a public official stands for, and the fact of whether they are hetrosexual or gay/lesbian has to be a part of that equation.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am not advocating outing anyone. I believe very strongly that is wrong and a gross invasion of privacy. People who are representing me or deciding policy that will affect my life, however, give up some of their privacy rights for that opportunity. If someone is unable or unwilling to be honest about who they are, I feel they need to stay in private industry and have their private lives.

ANYONE who is in a position of public influence will not earn my respect unless they show me enough respect to tell me who they are. I'm an educated man and want to make educated decisions about the people who represent me.


  1. That's good preachin'
    Yeah, and it's no wonder there is such misconception as to the percentage of GLBT in society when so many are closeted. It's a little easier to oppress and explain away when estimates are down around 1 or 2%. I think more realistic figures are up around 10% for those who are Kinsey 3 and higher.

  2. You make an excellent point. I would trust the I-can-do-more-within-the-system folks if I could see evidence that they are in fact doing something within the system to change it. Whatever their rationalization may be, too often they just seem to be allowing themselves to be used by the system to maintain the status quo and to use the system for themselves. I hope that is not true in every case.

  3. Great post, Jim. Authenticity is a must in everything real. Amazingly simple, but compelling.

    Hope to see you at the ProgFaithBlogCon