The XX Factor

Dowd Does Kagan

It’s hard to tell whom Maureen Dowd is skewering in her faux memo from Joe Biden yesterday. Is she making fun of the administration for aggressively promoting Elena Kagan’s heterosexuality, or Elena Kagan for refusing to admit she’s gay? Either way, the underlying assumption -as it is for much of the coverage on this subject, from Andrew Sullivan and others-is that Elena Kagan is actually gay and refusing to admit it. To me, this feels like a form of gay bullying as tedious and pernicious as enforced heterosexuality was in the 1950s. Years of Dan Savage have taught us that human sexuality is a complicated thing. It’s perfectly possible that Elena Kagan did date some guy friend of Eliot Spitzer’s and then have a girlfriend and then decide to go it alone. Does that make her some demented victim of a White House ex-gay ministry, as Dowd seems to imply? No, it makes her like any number of girls I went to college with. I don’t think her sexuality is irrelevant, particularly not to an administration that clearly believes life experiences are critical to someone’s jurisprudence. But she’s not talking, and it’s obviously complicated, so we have no choice but to back off. The alternative-a White House questionnaire that calls for a detailed dating history-is obviously not what we want. How would Maureen Dowd  like to provide a public and detailed explanation about why she is not married?

Correction, May 17: This post originally asked if Dowd or Andrew Sullivan would like to explain why they are not married. Sullivan is indeed married.

Photograph of Maureen Dowd by Alex Wong/Getty Images.