September 05, 2007

Mike Rogers Gaining Fame for Outing Politicians

I've written about Mike Rogers before, but there were two recent pieces about him that I think are worth bringing to your attention. First, The Washington Post wrote an article about his work outing politicians on the front page of its Metro section:

Rogers reasons that there's justice behind his tactics -- "odious," "outrageous" and "over-the-line" as they might seem to his detractors.

In Rogers's mind, if you're against gay rights in your public life and you live a secret homosexual life, all bets are off.

In 2005, Rogers blogged about Mark Foley, months before his inappropriate instant-messages to male congressional pages became public and he was forced to resign. The former Florida congressman had a varied record, sometimes voting in favor of gay rights, but at one point voting against adoption by same-sex couples.

And last October, he says, he targeted Craig -- months before an undercover sex sting in a Minneapolis airport men's room, and before the Idaho Statesman started its months-long investigation. Two years earlier, Rogers notes, the three-term senator had voted for the failed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

"Hypocrisy," Rogers sneers, "plain, hate-filled hypocrisy."

"I write about closeted people whose records are anti-gay," he says. "If you're a closeted Democrat or Republican and you don't bash gays or vote against gay rights to gain political points, I won't out you."

Wayne Besen then followed with more in his weekly column:

In an era of softer advocacy, Rogers is decidedly in your face. Yet, he has integrated new media with old school activism to create a stunningly effective hybrid that has brought Capitol Hill to its knees. Well, the hypocritical, anti-gay Congressmen were already on their knees - but until Rogers came along with his "outing" website BlogActive, they were getting away with it. Rogers does not tiptoe (or is it tap foot) around the contentions issue of outing and has a string of successes, including the downfall of closeted former Virginia GOP Congressman Ed Schrock.

Still, some opponents - often in the GLBT community - have tried to smear Rogers as radical or loony. Sometimes, these slights are in the media, but more often than not, they are defamatory whispers at cocktail parties by those who feel threatened by his work. Far from radical, however, Rogers is refreshingly contemplative and levelheaded when it comes to the ethics of outing. He has a clear idea of where he stands and has been consistent in his rules of engagement.

While I come up short from anointing Rogers a hero like Besen does, I strongly respect his work. He clearly has an agenda, who on Capitol Hill doesn't, but ultimately he's doing one thing--forcing politicians to be honest about who they are and why they act like they do.

No wonder they are terrified of him.


  1. from Schmitz Blitz:

    I am somewhat conflicted about the tactics of Rogers. The process of accepting and disclosing one’s gayness is very stressful and scary–you have to worry about rejection from the people you care about the most, and begin to deal with the changes that come with being identified as a gay American. When someone else outs you, you loose control over this very difficult process, and it adds to the emotional turmoil.

    What’s more, Rogers’ tactics create a new sort of McCarthyism targeting gays. It makes me somewhat uncomfortable to see again this kind of a witch hunt going on within the walls of our government.

    Those concerns noted, I ultimately support the outing of anti-gay politicians. These politicians take their own shame and self-hatred over being gay out on open gays who just want to live their lives with dignity (as opposed to finding sexual fulfillment through secret trysts in public restrooms and parks). To me, using your democratically elected office as a closet is an abuse of power, and we need people like Rogers to expose that.

  2. According to my research, there is more than circumstantial evidence that the "outting" project of Michael Rogers is nothing more than a resurgence of the old Snow White program of Scientology that sought to control government through knowing about the secrets people were ashamed of.