Outing on the Hill

Posted July 6, 2004 at 7:06pm

Gay rights activists are making a not-so-veiled threat to “out” closeted gay and lesbian Members of Congress and staffers as part of their condemnation of the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Much like the “Call to Conscience” ad that ran in 1996 during Congressional consideration the Defense of Marriage Act, which was credited with helping Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) out of the closet, a “Final Call to Conscience” ad will appear this Friday in the local gay newspaper The Washington Blade. [IMGCAP(1)]

The ad is sponsored by the Web site DearMary.com, named for Vice President Cheney’s lesbian daughter, which perpetually calls on her to urge her father to drop his support for the gay marriage ban. The ad makes a personal plea to Mary and “all the Mary Cheneys in Washington, DC and beyond.”

“If you are gay, end your silence,” the ad says, calling on gays in Congress to “stop aiding and abetting those who would make us second-class citizens.”

“If you are straight, end your hypocrisy,” it says.

Basically, says John Aravosis, founder of the group, that means: “If Congress wants to debate our private lives in public, we’re going to debate their private lives in public.” And it’s not just targeted at gays, he says. The ad is a shot across the bow to “the Jack Ryans of the world.” (Ryan was the Illinois Republican who dropped out of the Senate race recently after allegations that he had visited “sex clubs” came to light.)

“You are not alone, Mary. Far too many gays and lesbians in Washington, DC choose like you to be fence sitters and sell-outs — anti-gay by day and queer by night. We can no longer afford your silence. You can no longer expect our own,” the ad says.

Aravosis says there are “lots” of people who could potentially be outed, a move opposed by groups such as Log Cabin Republicans and Human Rights Campaign.

New York Daily News: Psyched. The battle of the New York tabloids may have reached an all-time sizzle after the New York Post’s big-time scoop snafu, reporting in a cover story that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) “has chosen Rep. Richard Gephardt, the veteran congressman from Missouri, to be his running mate.”

To thank the Post for giving the Daily News more credibility with New York readers, Daily News Deputy Publisher and Editorial Director Martin Dunn sent over a case of Cold Duck (a cheap version of champagne) to the publisher of the Post with a note saying, “Congratulations on your front page. Have a nice day.”

A spokeswoman for the Daily News said the paper was “have trouble making delivery” — presumably because the Post wouldn’t accept the in-kind donation.

Mad Teflon Max. The Senate’s biggest daredevil, Max Baucus (D-Mont.), was hobbling around on crutches Tuesday on his first day back from recess after surviving yet another He-Man accident.

The Senator crashed his Harley-Davidson about a half-hour north of Helena after swerving on a curve to miss a car. It could have been much worse had he not been wearing his helmet and leather jacket, spokesman Barrett Kaiser said. He didn’t break any bones, but he still got banged up pretty badly, with a number of cuts, scrapes and bruises on his left foot and his hands.

Spotted off the Senate floor on his crutches, wearing one of those over-sized specialized shoes on his left foot to keep all the bandages in place, Baucus was in good spirits and even a little self-deprecating. (Could it be the pain killers?)

“Clearly it’s a signal to slow down,” he said miling and not looking near as bad as he did last November, when he fell during a 50-mile ultramarathon race and smashed his head, which then caused fluid to build up near his brain and required surgery two months after the tumble to relieve the pressure.

As if brain surgery weren’t enough, Baucus then developed a heart disorder and underwent a procedure two months ago to fix that (not so little) problem.

We thinks the Senator should go with the Eagles’ advice. Take it easy!

Lake Jesse. If you miss the former conservative stalwart from North Carolina, you may soon be able to take a dip in his name. And we’re not talking about tobacco.

A lake near Raleigh — one of the state’s most popular areas for hikers, campers and boaters — would become Jesse Helms Lake under a bill introduced by Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-N.C.) — unless, of course, Democratic North Carolina Reps. David Price and Brad Miller, both of whose districts include parts of what is currently known as Falls Lake, can put a stop to it.

No one in Price’s office, it seems, wants to swim in Jesse Helms Lake. They were taken off guard when Jones dropped the bill before the July Fourth recess.

“We were just surprised,” Price spokeswoman Bridget Lowell told HOH. “We had to hear about it from a reporter” at the Raleigh News & Observer.

The Raleigh paper also dug up a little irony in Jones’ plan for the lake. Three decades ago, the paper wrote, Helms, as a freshman Senator, fought hard to keep federal money from being spent on parkland for the new lake, which was built in the early 1970s as a source of fresh drinking water. The paper reported that Helms wanted to delete 3,600 acres of recreational land from the plan “as a frill,” essentially threatening to kill Falls Lake.

“So the suggestion … to rename Falls Lake for the conservative icon has a few old-timers around Raleigh scratching their heads,” the News & Observer reported. The paper quoted one former Raleigh city council member as calling Jones’ bill “ludicrous.”

Glen Downs, chief of staff to Jones, tells HOH it wasn’t the lake that Helms opposed. It was the land around it.

Helms’ former chief of staff, Jimmy Broughton, said as much to the News & Observer. The paper reported that Broughton still believes Helms deserves the honor, regardless of his feelings about the recreation area. “Ronald Reagan wasn’t a fan of big government, after all, and the former president has a nice federal office building named after him in Washington,” the paper paraphrased Broughton as saying.