I will shed no tears the day Rick Santorum removes himself from contention for the Republican presidential nomination. But, his candidacy, quixotic though it may be, has at least done one thing: helped expose a flawed assumption the media have made in the ongoing debate on gay marriage.
Yesterday, in (on?) National Review’s Corner, this MSNBC headline, “Santorum continues anti-gay rhetoric, takes shot at Bachmann, rest of field” struck Kathryn Jean Lopez. She asked, in the title to her post on the the matter, the same question I ask in the title to this one.
Now, Santorum clearly opposes gay marriage, but that does not necessarily mean he’s anti-gay. In fact, in 2005, when he was still in the United States Senate, he stood by “director of communications Robert L. Traynham” when the staffer was “outed”, saying in a statement:
Robert Traynham … is widely respected and admired on Capitol Hill, both among the press corps and among the congressional staff, as a communications professional. Not only is Mr. Traynham an exemplary staffer, but he is also a trusted friend confidente to me and my family. Mr. Traynham is a valued member of my staff and I regret that this effort on behalf of people who oppose me has made him a target of bigotry in their eyes.
“It is entirely unacceptable that my staffs’ personal lives are considered fair game by partisans looking for arguments to bolster my opponent’s campaign. Mr. Traynham continues to have my full support and confidence as well as my prayers as he navigates this rude and mean spirited invasion of his personal life.”
Seems a man who is anti-gay might would have fired a staffer on learning he was gay. The folks at MSNBC err in assuming that because someone is opposed to gay marriage, he must also be anti-gay.
We might have a more civil discussion gay marriage if folks in the media — as well as in the gay community — understood the difference.