Monday, January 26, 2009
by Wayne Besen
Portland's openly gay mayor, Sam Adams, correctly decided to remain in office
after acknowledging that three years ago he had a brief affair with an eighteen year old man. Calls for his resignation were politically motivated, homophobic and cheap shots dressed in the guise of morality. Sadly, many gay and lesbian leaders got sucked into the sexual hysteria and puritanical pandemonium and called for the mayor's resignation.
If Adams had exploited an innocent youth or abused his power in office to obtain sex, I would not be defending him. The affair with Beau Breedlove, however, was consensual and Breedlove told the Oregonian newspaper:
"I do not see any relationship that I ever had with Sam as me being taken advantage of. I do not feel like I was ever a victim."
Given this reality, I am having a difficult time understanding exactly why this is a controversy. The hypocrisy, double standard and anti-gay undertones are unmistakable. If a 42-year-old male politician had hooked up with an 18-year-old Hooter's girl, he would get high fives. If he's gay, people with pitchforks want to hang him from a high tree. For the conquering straight male, the affair would be a sign of virility. For the gay man, it is the mark of vulgarity.
This all goes back to the despicable stereotype that evil homosexuals recruit children into the so-called "lifestyle." People have to realize that sacrificing Adams won't erase this insidious myth from the minds of ignorant people who choose to believe it.
As in most self-righteous inquisitions, the pious finger pointers say it is "not about the sex, it is because Adam's lied" to the media about the tryst. This is the same disingenuous nonsense that Ken "Porn" Starr and the GOP used to rationalize their attempted coup of Bill Clinton.
In my view, Adams is the victim of an overzealous media asking questions about a relationship that was none of their business. There were only two legitimate questions that should ever have been asked of Adams:
Was Breedlove of legal age?
Did Adams supervise him at work?
We know the answer to the first question (barely legal), and Breedlove was an intern in the state capitol, which had nothing to do with the city council, where Adams had served as a commissioner.
So, why is this a story?
When asked about this affair during his campaign, Adams had every right to mislead reporters. What detractors call lying, was really just personal discretion. What next, are we going to pass sunshine laws that mandate public officials must sign sexual disclosure forms listing all sexual liaisons and post their names on the Internet? Because, that is essentially what people want when they insist Adams had an obligation to discuss his private life with the media.
Like starving vultures, the press is now sensationalizing the issue. For example, ABC News' website published an Associated Press story headlined, "Gay Teen Sex Scandal Mayor Won't Resign." This is misleading and irresponsible journalism that makes Adams appear to be a letch who hangs around middle schools with lollipops.
To be fair, Adams did let down the GLBT community. When asked about the affair during his campaign, he should have either told the truth or said, "none of your business." Instead, he accused his primary opponent of gay baiting and complained, "This is one of the worst smears you can make against a gay guy. It preys on the homophobic stereotype that gay men cannot be trusted with young people."
Adams diminished the noble cause for equality when he hid behind it to conceal his relationship. He should have acted with more integrity and not made his personal saga about the larger GLBT community.
Still, Adams did apologize profusely and should be allowed to move on. Human beings are not perfect, especially politicians. Last week, hundreds of citizens rallied in front of City Hall in support of Adams, giving him the strength to fight on.
Finally, I'm not begrudging those who think that it is irresponsible and wrong for Adams to have had sex with someone half his age. Those who believe that Adams does not share their values, have every right to vote him out of office when he is up for reelection. But the notion that Adams should be recalled is nothing short of an ugly witch-hunt.
The political judgment of Sam Adams is certainly questionable. There is no question, however, that his actions do not warrant the harsh judgment of those who demand that he resign. One may not like the mayor's personal choices, but this so-called "scandal" is nothing more than a fake crime scene in search of a real crime.
Adams is no superman, as many supporters thought he once was, but he is also no scoundrel. It is time people stop taking potshots at the mayor, and let him return to work so he can repair the potholes his constituents elected him to fix.
posted by will, at