Out of the closet
From today's Palm Beach Post-
Mark Foley spent decades crafting a careful public image, one that was shattered Friday with revelations of Foley's sexually explicit Internet conversations with teenage boys.
His political career in tatters, the now-former congressman went into seclusion, leaving his friends to wonder: Who is Mark Foley?
Rumors that Foley is gay have swirled around him for years. Many believe it was one of the worst-kept secrets in Florida and Washington.
In 2003, during his brief run for the U.S. Senate, he was asked about his sexual orientation. He refused to answer and has not publicly addressed the question since.
At least one blogger says it wasn't rumor but fact. This is the 2003 article that stirred the controversy the Palm Beach Post and most of the Florida MSM either ignored or dismissed as rumors.
When I called the Christian Coalition of Florida last week, the organization's deputy director, Carolyn Kunkle, answered.
"Hi," I said, "my name's Bob Norman with the New Times, and I'm doing a story on Mark Foley's run for the Senate."
Without missing a beat, Kunkle said, "I imagine you're calling about Mark Foley because he is a homosexual?"
Kunkle was right. Foley, the nine-year conservative Republican U.S. representative out of Lake Worth, is gay. That is no revelation to political and media types. Everyone knows it, though no newspaper outside the gay press has ever really touched the issue.
"It's pretty common knowledge about him," says Wilton Manors councilman Craig Sherritt, a Democrat who is openly gay. "I think every politician of every stripe knows about him." Foley has never said it, and there is no photographic proof, but the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. It's been an open secret for the past decade. But what of it? Gays and lesbians in office represent nothing more than a healthy democracy at work. And, in some cases, it's OK for them to remain in the closet. But that's no longer the case for Foley. His voting record on gay rights has become a controversial issue. He's campaigning across Florida for the U.S. Senate. The people have a right to know. And dancing around the truth is just getting too weird to abide.
Bob Norman's column is lengthy but I suggest you read all of it. They weren't rumors, but facts.
So why didn't the Palm Beach Post report it. Back to the article from above.
The rumors continued to surface occasionally, and in 2003, when he was the front-runner in a primary race for the Senate seat being vacated by Bob Graham, Foley gave a news conference to condemn rumors that he was gay but refused to say whether he was. A few months later, he dropped out of the race, saying he needed to spend more time with his father, who had prostate cancer.
The Palm Beach Post did not report the rumors. The Post's policy is not to report about a politician's sexual orientation unless it is relevant to a news story.
So the Post sat on the news about Foley's orientation. TFM is aware that being homosexual doesn't make someone a sex offender and I'm NOT implying that this 2003 would have told us about Foley's secret.
Bob Norman the author of the article and The Daily Pulp blogged the following.
More accurately, the Post did not report the truth, but I suppose it makes the institution feel better to keep referring to it as rumors. Actually, I agree with the policy. The problem is the Post obviously couldn’t discern news relevance. A closeted politician running for national office as a member of a political party that is anti-gay would seem to me to be relevent. That same candidates coming out against gay marriage and adoption would also seem relevent. And a much-publicized Foley press conference in which he denounced questions about his sexual orientation as “repulsive” would be deemed relevant by just about anyone with common sense and was by the Florida press at large.
As unusual as this sounds, I'm going to cut the Post some slack. How definitive was it that Foley was gay? Now lets go back to the 2003 column.
The most convincing and direct evidence comes from a former family friend of Foley's named Tracy Thorne. Back in 1992, Thorne, then a Navy lieutenant, famously declared he was gay on Nightline, an event that brought the issue of gays and the military to the fore and helped spur President Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
In 1996, Thorne demanded that Foley come out of the closet. The Palm Beach Post refused to run a guest editorial Thorne wrote about Foley, but a national gay publication, the Advocate, quoted him in an article that questioned Foley's sexuality, though it fell short of outing him.
I found Thorne in Virginia, where he works as an attorney. He told me he still believes that Foley should be true to the people. "By refusing to be honest about who he is," he told me, "Foley is sending a message to gay kids and his fellow Republicans that being gay is something to be ashamed of."
So how is Thorne so certain that Foley, who spoke at Thorne's father's funeral in 1994, is gay? Other than its being basically common knowledge, he says that Foley and his boyfriend visited Thorne's family home in the Florida Keys during the early 1990s and that they talked about it at the time. "The relationship was obvious," Thorne said. "It was no big deal."
This is the first time Thorne has publicly told of his firsthand knowledge. Another source told me that Sherritt saw Foley at the Copa, a gay bar in Fort Lauderdale. But the councilman refused to confirm that detail. "I'm not saying I have, and I'm not saying I haven't," Sherritt told me. "I don't think it's my place to out him. I don't see the need for him to come out of the closet, though I do personally wish he would."
Is one person plus one unnamed source that convincing for publication in a newspaper? Note the other source, told Norman that Sheritt saw Foley. If I'm not mistaken that's heresay.
Of course the Post could have had a reporter follow up on the leads given in Norman's column. The bottom line is, is what any politician does in the bedroom shouldn't be news unless it interferes with their public duties. The Post made a decision on Foley, I'm inclined to agree with them. Foley's politics isn't the issue, what Norman gives as the reason to report Foley's orientation comes off as outing to me which has its own motivations for some in the GLBT community.
The real crime isn't what the MSM did or didn't do, but what Foley did in those emails and instant messages. Randy Schultz at the Palm Beach Post wrote-
Like others who have known him, I'm sad for Mark, and I hope he gets help. I'm sadder, though, for the boys.I'm not sad for Foley but am sad for his family and friends who have been hurt by this news. I do agree with Randy, I feel saddest for those pages. They are the real victims.
Full Disclosure- I must tell that my wife has met the Congressman's parents but not Mark Foley himself. The Foleys were at one time parrishoners at the same Roman Catholic Church dear wife and I attend and where DW works as church receptionist.
Linked to- Bright & Early, Right Wing Nation, Stuck on Stupid, Blue Star, Jo's Cafe, Cao's Blog, Third World County, Adam's Blog, TMH's Bacon Bits, Clash of Civilizations, Samantha Burns, Uncooperative Blogger, Is it Just me, Random Yak, Basil's Blog,