Sen. Lindsey Graham returned to the national spotlight this week, overseeing the confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett. The irony of this appears largely lost on the mainstream media.
Graham, for years and years rumored to be gay, is rushing the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice who will likely rule on challenges to the Obergefell marriage decision that will undoubtedly curtail its scope, if not overturn it entirely, as Justices Alito and Thomas revealed last week as their goal.
The confirmed bachelor’s efforts to keep his sexual orientation a secret suffered a blow this summer, when male escorts and porn stars created a stir with the “Lady Graham” hashtag and revelations about “ladybugs” (Google it if you have an iron stomach). Porn star Sean Harding went public on Twitter, alleging Graham has hired multiple D.C.-based escorts over the years who signed non-disclosure agreements, which have enabled this farce to persist for so long.
Closeted figures like Graham have done so much damage over the years, from Donald Trump’s idol and mentor Roy Cohn, to Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, passing laws and judgment against members of their own community while cowering in the shadows. It’s remarkable that in 2016 Graham ran for president and is now running for re-election to the Senate while largely avoiding questions about his sexual orientation from the media. His disdain for the LGBTQ community is established in a string of votes against our interests, from voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to co-sponsoring the Defense of Marriage Act, to shoving a hostile Supreme Court justice down our throats two weeks before a presidential election after vowing he would never do such a thing.
Graham was asked about marriage during a recent debate with Jaime Harrison, his well-funded Democratic opponent in the South Carolina Senate race.
“My partner and I have been married for five years and we’ve been together for 22. What will the candidates do to ensure our rights are protected — the rights of the gay people, married in the state of South Carolina,” asked Louis Yuhasz during the debate.
“The law of the land by the Supreme Court is that same-sex marriage is now legal,” Graham replied. “I accept that ruling. We’re a conservative state, there are a lot of religious people around this state that believe in traditional marriage. They’re not bigots, they’re not neanderthals for believing in that but this man, under our law, has the right to his relationship. I’ll honor the law of the land. … I’ve tried to be tolerant. I’ve tried to understand that people have different life experiences. I do; I’m not a woman, I’m not a person of color. I listen, but I can tell you right now that when it comes to South Carolina, I think I’ve been an effective voice for who we are and to the gentleman, the law of the land is that same-sex marriage is legal and we will honor that.”
Of course, that’s a far cry from actually endorsing marriage equality, as the “law of the land” will likely change given the new 6-3 conservative majority on the high court.
It appears unlikely that Harrison will unseat Graham, but if enough South Carolinians recognize the harmful hypocrisy that Graham embodies, maybe, just maybe, we’ll see much needed change on Nov. 3.
Patti LuPone said it best when she tweeted earlier this year: “Lindsey Graham you are a disgrace. On a personal note, why don’t you just bite the bullet and come out. You might just come to your senses.”
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at [email protected].