Opinion » Ted Rall

Occupy Sexual Freedom

Sympathy for Newt and open marriage

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You know the narrative. Right-wing family-values Republican gets caught doing secular-liberal totally-not-family-values stuff, usually involving sex:

Cruising for manlove in an airport men's room. Sending dirty emails to male pages. Hiring male hookers and smoking meth. Asking wife No. 2 for an open marriage. This kind of thing happens all the time. Liberal pundits love to call fallen Republicans hypocrites. They point out that liberal politicians are often more heterosexual and monogamous than many conservatives.

Now it's Newt Gingrich's turn.

In her divorce filing, Ms. Gingrich the Second claims that Gingrich asked her for an open marriage so he could stay with her while carrying on with Callista, who became Ms. Gingrich the Third after Ms. Gingrich the Second refused said request. (You may need to re-read the previous sentence.)

Cue the holier-than-thou liberals. CNN reporter John King opened a presidential debate with an assault on Newt's alleged yearning for sexual freedom. A New York Times editorial called this "a perfectly reasonable question."

Across the vertical seam in the op-ed graveyard, Gail Collins could barely contain herself. "Beyond the hypocrisy of this sort of behavior from a guy who wants to protect the sanctity of holy matrimony from gay couples, there also seems to be a streak of almost crazed self-absorption that runs through the Newt saga," Collins gloated. "Who would ditch a spouse of 18 years in a phone call? Shortly after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? And, of course, he broke up with his first wife while she was battling cancer."

That Gingrich is pompous, nasty and one of the most hideous members of that repugnant tribe known as politicians. Still, I think the left is missing an opportunity.

Progressives are fighting for human emancipation. The right to engage in sex with any consensual adult in any form is integral to this struggle. How, then, can we justify mocking anyone for expressing his or her sexuality?

When Sen. Larry Craig was arrested in that Minneapolis-St. Paul airport restroom, essentially for being a closeted gay or bisexual male, he needed our support, not our ridicule. Imagine if gay rights supporters had refused to get sucked into stupid D-vs.-R theatrics. Defending Craig's right to hit on other guys would have served the cause better.

As for Newt's alleged request for an open marriage, well, so what if he did? When 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, it's clear that state-enforced monogamy isn't working for everyone. Researchers estimate that up to 6 percent of American couples are in open marriages.

You shouldn't have to hide or lie when you're doing nothing wrong. Yet so-called "liberals" join their rightist counterparts in snickering about Craig's "wide stance." The effect is to denigrate gays, lesbians and others. We should tell right-wingers like Gingrich: You're one of us. The fact that you can't live by your own supposed rules proves it.

Quit living a lie. More importantly, quit asking everyone else to live the stupid lie that defines your out-of-date politics. Hey, Republicans: Are you a men's-room-trolling, sexting, bondage-loving, gay-bi-trans-whatever?

The right's not that into you. Join us.

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