President Obama still has to pick a Supreme Court justice to replace David Souter, and most of the candidates on his shortlist are women. This is gratifying, but what’s troubling are the lesbian rumors circulating in the mainstream press about some of them. Indeed, one candidate did confirm that she is a lesbian.
Now, I’m with most Americans in saying that the sexual orientation of the next Supreme Court justice doesn’t concern me too much. I’m more interested in the quality of a prospective justice’s legal mind, and what he or she can bring to the discussion of issues likely to come up before the Court. Indeed, more influential voices in the blogosphere than mine have given this a big fat “Who cares?”
What does this say about us, though? A number of the women on the shortlist are unmarried and without children, and it’s disturbing to see some respected legal scholars holding that against them. Oddly enough, it reminds of the lesbian flap regarding Desperate Housewives that came up a few years ago. If you’ll recall, some message board chatter spread the rumor that one of the cast members was gay, and since Marcia Cross didn’t have kids at the time and wasn’t in a high-profile relationship with a man, the lesbian tag quickly settled on her, to the point where she had to publicly deny it. Why do we look at a successful, single, childless 40-something woman and think she has to be either a weird loner or in the closet? Why can’t we accept that she chooses to put her career first? I thought it was strange that the question didn’t come up then, and I think it’s strange that it’s not coming up now.
Men encounter this prejudice, too. American voters seem hesitant to vote men into high office who don’t have a wife and kids. (There’s an exchange from Scorsese’s The Departed at the 1:08 mark of this clip that gives a concise — and profane — explanation of why married men put other people at ease.) Then again, David Souter was unmarried with no kids. Did anyone advance that as a reason why he shouldn’t be on the highest court in the land? Has anyone written any articles about how he must be crying himself to sleep at night because he’s alone? It would appear that women suffer more from our bias against the unwed. When the president announces his pick, we should worry more about the nominee’s stances on copyright infringement and suspects’ rights than whether they’ve got kids at home, or what their sexual preferences might be.
Speaking of homosexual speculation, Kris Allen defeated Adam Lambert on American Idol on Wednesday night. Our Jeff Prince already blogged about this. I didn’t follow the show, so I can’t assess who’s the better singer or who deserved to win. Already, though, some TV critics and bloggers are construing this as some sort of defeat for gay America. In response, I thought I’d link to a well-written piece saying we shouldn’t read too much into this, at least in terms of sexual politics. By all the accounts I’ve read, Kris Allen is a perfectly nice straight, Christian guy who showed respect and friendship toward a dude who likes to kiss other dudes. So don’t hate Kris because he’s the straight guy who beat the gay guy. Save that up for Carrie Prejean.