Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rep. Gerry Studds

This is a name you are going to hear in relation to the Foley Scandal - in fact if you scan down to this post, you can see that a Conservative has already brought him up. In 1973, Rep. Gerry Studds had an affair with a 17 year old page. He was censured for it in 1983, and he famously turned his back as the censure was read out. During the hearing his homosexuality was revealed, which led to him being the first openly homosexual member of congress. Shortly after his censure he appeared with the page in question, and both firmly stated that what had gone on between them was nobodies business but their own.

In 1983, the House of Representatives was held firmly by the Democrats (267 D to 168 Republican), so one assumes most of the committee heads were Democrats. So to say Democrats took no action is of course not true - he was censured and "outed." Also the circumstances of how the affair was revealed were different - Studds affair was revealed ten years after the fact, and he and the page stood together in responding to questions, making it seem less predatory (in contrast, some Republicans have apparently decided the page in Foley's folly is fair game).

It's also worth noting that Foley resigned - he was not censured or kicked out of congress by his fellow members. He resigned. Now he may have been pressured to resign, but we don't really know how Republicans would have handled him if he had chosen to stay and fight.

But still, given how badly this issue is going for them, perhaps we should allow them to congratulate themselves on how much more moral they are than us. They were willing to take action against one of their own, after, of course, several months had passed and the whole story blew up into the public sphere, so that they couldn't hide it anymore. I mean once everybody knew about it already and the damage had been done, they were willing to address the problem.

Information for this article came from here and here.

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