Iceland is getting a new prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir. I don’t generally take much interest in Iceland’s leaders, but this new PM is notable because she’s a gay. That makes her one of the first openly gay world leaders of modern times.
So what did it take to get a gay politician into high office? Well, in this instance all it took was a worldwide financial crisis, the collapse of the Icelandic economy and the resignation in disgrace of the sitting prime minister, facilitating the appointment of a gay prime minister without an election. Sigurdardottir is expected to leave office in four months’ time, just as soon as the public gets a chance to vote on their leaders. Truly, the dream of gay acceptance has been made real!
So, I’m not going to get too excited about Prime Minister Sigurdardottir. I already got my hopes raised and dashed by Portland Mayor Sam Adams. I don’t know how well known the Sam Adams scandal is outside the communities of Portland and Gay, but it’s a sorry story.
In November Adams became the first openly gay man to be elected mayor of a major US city. Also, the first cute mayor. Probably.
During the campaign, Adams was asked about his former relationship with a young intern back in 2005. He said that they had just been friends. Then he got elected, and then he admitted that he had lied about their relationship. The reason he lied? The intern had been 17 when they first met, and sex with a 17-year-old is against the law in Oregon.
Now, Adams insists that they did not have sex until after the intern turned 18, and he says the reason he lied was because he did not think people would believe him. Fair enough. I actually still don’t. I mean, I don’t think 17 should be considered ‘underage’, but that’s not the point; the law’s the law.
Saying ‘yes we had sex but not until it was legal’ is a difficult pitch to sell on the campaign trail, so Sam Adams lied. There are no other issues here; Adams was not unfaithful to anyone (he’s in a relationship now, but wasn’t then). There was no abuse of power - the intern worked at the Oregon House of Representatives; Adams worked on the Portland City Council. No criminal charges have been placed against Adams for sex with a minor (though an investigation is underway). A taste for chicken is not a resigning offence.
Sam Adams is not the gay Bill Clinton. Clinton lied, abused his power and cheated on his partner. Adams has ‘only’ lied.
There have been calls for Adams’ resignation - even from Portland’s gay paper - but Adams has said that he intends to stay in office, and I’m not sure how that will play out - I suspect it all now depends on the results of the criminal investigation. A recall election has been suggested, but that seems unlikely to occur.
I sympathise with Adams. Sleeping with a teenager doesn’t look good for any politician, but even in liberal Portland it probably looks worse for a gay politician, so I can understand why he lied. He expected a gay witch hunt, and I’m sure he would have got one. I’m not sure he isn’t getting one now. It was still bloody stupid, both to get involved with someone that young when you harbour those ambitions, and to lie about it when questioned. It would have been better if he had stonewalled the question (no pun intended) and taken his chances.
It has become very clear on the back of this story that if you’re gay and you want to run for public office, you need to be as squeaky clean as Jesus. (Actually, squeakier and cleaner; Jesus would never get elected. He palled around with terrorists.)
On balance, I’m glad Adams did not resign. I think that was the right decision. Even so, it’s devastating that one of America’s most prominent gay politicians will now serve with a tarnish hanging over his entire career.
Incidentally, the intern in question does have a name, and I’ve studiously avoided using it. His name is Beau Breedlove. And that is why I avoided using it.
Speaking of good-looking politicians, I am disgusted - disgusted - that Huffington Post is running a ‘Who’s the Hottest Congressional Freshman‘ poll. Is this what serious leftie political blogging has come to? I’m doubly disgusted that most of the contendors aren’t even remotely hot! In fact, the only one who passes muster is Aaron Schock.
And here’s what makes this especially digusting; Aaron Schock is a Republican! (And a somewhat swishy ‘bachelor’ Republican at that. A ‘friend of Haggard’?) And - and - he’s only 27. That makes him the first congressman born in the 1980s! No wonder he’s in the anti-abortion party - he’s probably still at risk!
While we’re talking about politics, bachelors and suchlike, one final note. Advice columnist Dan Savage recently ran a contest to come up with a definition of the word ‘saddlebacking‘, in reference to Rick Warren’s inauspiciously named Saddleback Church. Here’s the winning entry:
Keep squeaky, chums.