January 31, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay ex-congressman shuns politics in Florida

Former U.S. Rep. Robert Bauman (photo courtesy of Bauman)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Former U.S. Rep. Robert Bauman, a Republican who represented Maryland’s mostly rural Eastern Shore district from 1973 to 1981, was known at the time as a champion of conservative causes.

Today, more than 30 years after a gay sex scandal led to his ouster from office, he lives in the upscale gay enclave of Wilton Manors, a small city located just outside Fort Lauderdale.

In an interview with the Washington Blade on the eve of Florida’s Republican presidential primary, Bauman said he remains committed to conservative and libertarian principles but has shunned politics since 1982.

“I think both parties are miserable,” he said. “I don’t know what they stand for any more.”

Bauman added, “I think they mirror each other. I think they are both completely enthralled to Wall Street and the banks. I think they are controlled by the people that contribute money to them. And that goes for Obama and it goes for Gingrich.”

“The only thing you can say for Romney is that he’s rich enough that maybe he won’t be influenced by that,” said Bauman. “I hate to say it, but I think he’s probably the least influenced by them because of his religion.”

Bauman, an attorney, said he voted earlier this month for GOP presidential contender Ron Paul, the congressman from Texas, as a “protest vote.” He said Paul’s outspoken call for reforming the nation’s politics and economic policies represents a refreshing alternative to the other candidates, even though Bauman acknowledges some of Paul’s proposals are unrealistic.

When asked about former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the fourth remaining contender in the GOP presidential race, Bauman shrugged and said he considered him “no better or no worse” than Romney or Gingrich.

Bauman noted that some people he knows who share his disappointment over the current state of U.S. politics no longer vote because they believe it “lends credence” to a lousy system.

“I don’t feel that way. I’ll keep fighting until I go,” he said.

In October 1980, then-U.S. Rep. Robert Bauman was widely believed to be the most conservative member of the House of Representatives.

Admirers and critics alike recognized him as an articulate and formidable opponent of the Democrats who controlled both Congress and the White House at the time.

But later that month, his status as a champion of conservative Republican causes and an admired husband and father of four children came crashing down. News surfaced that the FBI and D.C. police accused him of soliciting sex from a 16-year-old male prostitute who apparently used fake identification to land a job as a stripper in a D.C. gay bar called the Chesapeake House, the place where Bauman met him.

Just four weeks before Bauman was expected to win re-election to a fourth term in Congress by a lopsided margin, he pleaded “no contest” in federal court to a misdemeanor charge of solicitation for prostitution. Under a plea bargain arrangement for first-time offenders, authorities called for a sentence of just six months probation, with no jail time, after which the charge was dropped.

As an interesting aside, Bauman said he was represented in court by Baltimore attorney Tom O’Malley, the father of Maryland’s current governor, Martin O’Malley.

Following what Bauman has called a grueling four-week climax to his election campaign, in which longtime supporters turned against him, he lost his race for re-election to Democrat Roy Dyson.

At the urging of loyal supporters, Bauman threw his hat in the ring for a comeback in the 1982 election. But he was immediately challenged in the Republican primary by a former state senator who seized on the sex scandal that led to Bauman’s defeat two years earlier.

“It was almost totally a personal campaign based on what happened to me,” Bauman said. “And with three of my kids still living with me and my wife and I separating, I just said to myself, that’s enough, and I withdrew. And I almost won the primary six weeks after I withdrew. My name was still on the ballot.”

His opponent in the primary lost overwhelmingly to Dyson in the November election.

“So that was my last activity in politics,” Bauman said.

Over the next four years Bauman started a private law practice in Washington; worked briefly as a lobbyist for the newly created Gay Rights National Lobby, the forerunner to the Human Rights Campaign; and wrote a book called “The Gentleman from Maryland: The Conscience of a Gay Conservative.”

The book, published in 1986, has been praised by conservatives and liberals as an honest and painful account of Bauman’s struggle with his sexual orientation and alcoholism.

Shortly after his book was published Bauman moved to Florida to take a job as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs office outside St. Petersburg. He said he left that job about a year later after deciding he was no longer interested in working within the federal bureaucracy.

He next went to work as a freelance writer and attorney for a libertarian-oriented publishing company called Agora Publications. In 1998 Bauman helped to found a subsidiary to the company called the Sovereign Society, which publishes email newsletters and books specializing in legal tax avoidance through the use of offshore investing.

“I write for them on a regular basis for their daily e-newsletter that goes out to more than 335,000 people,” he said. “And I write books. I’ve written five or six or more books on offshore financing and on places to invest off shore – asset protect –all of the things that Newt Gingrich has been railing against for the last few days,” he said.

Bauman takes strong exception to gay activists who accused him of pushing for anti-gay policies during his years in Congress. He said that with the exception of one vote — for a 1970s era amendment introduced by Rep. Larry McDonald (D-Ga.), which prohibited the U.S. Legal Services Administration from taking on gay rights cases — he never took a public position for or against gay rights.

“I was a closeted homosexual. Taking on gay rights issues was the last thing in the world I wanted to do,” he said.

Now, Bauman said he fully supports civil rights and full equality for gays and transgender people. But he said he isn’t ready to support legalization of same-sex marriage, a position he acknowledges will upset gay activists.

“I have never supported gay marriage,” he said. “To me, marriage is between a man and a woman. I don’t think you can replace centuries of religious tradition when it comes to marriage. It does not include two people of the same sex.”

He said he does support legal recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships, saying same-sex couples joined in that form of legal relationship should be given all of the rights and benefits of marriage.

 

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

3 Comments
  • Wow. Once a self-hating conservative, always a self-hating conservative. After all this time to reflect back on his life, he still can’t countenance the idea that he’s as good as straight people and deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage. On the one hand, poor guy. On the other hand, what a jerk.

  • Maybe Mr Bauman needs to do a more thorough investigation into the REAL history of marriage, not just the religious BS brainwashing that he’s accepted. At one time, “commoners” (that is, the overwhelming majority of people) were NOT allowed to enter into “marriage”–not even if the couple in question was that “sacred” one man and one woman; marriage, at that time, was the sole province of the nobility (they were, after all, the only ones who had enormous property and estates that needed protection; yes, believe it or not, marriage was based on ECONOMIC considerations–many of the “married” couples would first meet each other on their wedding day).

    Then, of course, there was the LONG tradition of polygamy–look at the Bible, for instance. The story of Jacob who “fell in love” with Rachel but ended up marrying her older sister Leah,after having worked 7 years as “payment” to marry Rachel (then, after another 7 years, he finally got to marry Rachel but he did NOT divorce Leah). And, there’s the supreme barnyard rooster, Solomon–a man who had roughly 1000 wives AND concubines (not ONE wife and nearly 1000 concubines–MULTIPLE wives, in the hundreds at least, plus hundreds more concubines). And the concept of multiple marriages was prevalent in many societies (it still is, even today–Islamic custom allows a man to have up to 4 wives, provided he can care for and treat all his wives equally; naturally, this tends to limit the custom to the more well-off men).

    And, there’s also a long tradition of adulterous marriages. Usually it’s the husband who engages in sexual relations with other partners (perhaps just one regular long-term partner, perhaps a number of different people over the course of the marriage), frequently with the tacit approval of the wife; especially among the upper classes, there was an understanding that as long as the “relationship” was kept reasonably discreet or did not cause undue embarassment for the wife, the husband was free to do as he wished. (And the French, of course, raised this to a veritable art form. During the 19th and well into the 20th century, it was considered de rigueur for a man, especially in an esteemed profession such as the law or banking or a successful merchant to have not only a wife but a mistress whom he “kept”; and it wasn’t completely unheard of for such a man to have a male lover rather than another woman–such men could view themselves as being “completely” faithful to their wives and it was often easier to go out in public with a man than to be seen with the “other woman.”)

    But, if Mr Bauman wishes to persist in his silly idea, perhaps he can explain why he CHOSE to violate the bonds of his “religious” marriage by engaging in sexual activity with another person. I seriously doubt that anyone FORCED him to marry a woman so, by indulging in ANY extramarital relationships, he VIOLATED the very religious notions that he uses to delineate the idea of marriage. There’s a word for that: Hypocrisy. Reconcile that with your “conscience”–if you can.

  • What a time warp…… In the face of a changing nation this guy is stuck in time. Such a limited
    view of social justice. Shows how mediocre these congressional conservatives are.

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