* Fran Eaton should be given a lot of credit for taking on this issue so directly. I don’t always agree with her, but somebody needed to write this story since both of these gentlemen are considering a bid for governor. Eaton approached the incredibly touchy subject in a very honest, open and frank manner…
This week, the issue of gay politics is in the news as one likely candidate for governor - State Treasurer Dan Rutherford - reportedly made an off-the-cuff comment in Tampa in support of anti-Republican Equality Illinois picking up the bar tab for the Illinois Delegation. The State Treasurer is quoted as saying that those who don’t like it “can go someplace else to drink.”
That was an eyebrow-raiser for conservative Republicans back home who are concerned about preserving traditional marriage in Illinois.
Then Wednesday night, a second potential 2014 gubernatorial candidate - Congressman Aaron Schock - told PBS he is opposed to same sex marriage. In response Gay blogger John Aravois expressed his thoughts about Schock, writing:
“GOP Rep. from IL Aaron Schock said last night on local PBS in Chicago that he’s opposed to gay marriage. I think it’s finally time we had an honest and open discussion about what this guy’s sexual orientation really is. Because if he wants to play the anti-gay card, then he makes his own sexual orientation an issue. He needs to directly answer and put to rest all the talk about him being gay.”
Another eyebrow-raiser. And perhaps the signal that it is time to address a rather difficult topic.
* Eaton then gives us some history and context…
So, let’s start with the obvious. Both Rutherford and Schock are not married. Rutherford is 57 years old and Schock is 31. Both have dedicated their adult professional lives to public service.
Rutherford worked for ServiceMaster before becoming a state representative, then a state senator, and now the state treasurer. He’s been involved in politics statewide for decades, and has actively promoted Republican candidates and local organizations. While in the legislature, his voting record was above average on conservative issues with a lifetime average rating of 70 according to the staunchly conservative URF legislative scorecard.
However, Rutherford was the sole Republican vote in favor of adding “sexual orientation” to the state’s non-discrimination statute. The vote caused a furor, and rumors about Rutherford’s sexuality really began to fly.
That’s when I interviewed Rutherford and when I asked him what he referred to as “The Question.” He had heard the same rumors over the years and was eager to answer it publicly. Indeed, Rutherford told me directly, “No, I am not gay.”
The other legislator whose sexuality has been questioned is Aaron Schock. Schock was first elected to the Peoria school board when he was 19. At age 21, he challenged an incumbent Democrat state rep and knocked her off in a hard-fought race. At age 27, he ran and won a tough primary race in his first bid for Congress, when Ray LaHood stepped down.
Schock’s a respected, hard-working legislator and as the youngest member in Congress, his future in politics appears to be limitless.
He’s handsome, articulate and photogenic. He’s become a rock star on Capitol Hill and he’s reaching out to his generation with Republican ideals.
I’ve been asked numerous times whether Schock is gay - as if I had proof one way or another. “From discussions I’ve had with those closest to Schock, he is not,” I’ve answered time and time again.
I’ve also explained that Schock experienced a soul-searching time when his parents divorced. He sought pastoral counsel and subsequently made a public declaration of his faith in Jesus at a very conservative church in Peoria. That all happened while he was serving as an Illinois House member.
Fran writes that she’s never asked Schock “The Question,” but the congressman was asked about it back in 2004, according to a 2009 Schock profile. That Details Magazine profile is no longer online, but it’s still searchable…
Schock is hoping his romantic prospects will improve too, once he settles in. He’s the only one of his siblings not married with children, and is similarly an outlier among his friends. “I had a group of five or six guys, and we hung out and traveled—ski trips and stuff,” he says. “They slowly got picked off—married, married, married.” His pals try not to dog him about his love life. “I think he’s got enough pressure as it is,” says Shea Ledford, a concrete worker who’s been Schock’s good friend since high school.
Indeed, there’s been enough speculation about Schock’s confirmed-bachelor status that, as far back as 2004, a Chicago newspaper asked him whether he was gay (his response: “No . . . I’m not.”).
* Eaton, a very conservative blogger, concludes her piece with some almost liberal remarks…
So, do we have a right to know about a candidate’s personal and public position on moral issues? The answer is “yes”. But I contend it’s less about what a candidate does in their bedroom and more about what the condition of his or her heart, soul and mind is.
Do they respect and guide their lives according to time-solidified scriptural, moral principles? That alone is what will determine the direction they lead their own lives, their homes, and their state.
Perhaps that’s “The Question” we all need to ask ourselves before we ask them the other.
But before you comment, I need to tell you that I’m gonna delete anyone who makes inappropriate comments and will likely ban those deleted commenters for life. Speculation, rumors, “somebody told me” etc. will not be tolerated. There is going to be very little leeway on this post, so don’t test me.
So, if you think I might delete you, don’t write it. If I think I might ban you, just walk away from your computer. I’m not kidding about this. Don’t push me. Thanks.