In the same week in which anti-immigration activists are demanding that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) out himself, here in the City of Brotherly Love we've now got the reverse: longtime St. Rep. Babette Josephs (D), 70, a stalwart ally of the LGBT community, is accusing her primary opponent of lying about being bisexual in order to court LGBT voters:
"I outed him as a straight person," Josephs said during a fund-raiser at the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, as some in the audience gasped or laughed, "and now he goes around telling people, quote, 'I swing both ways.' That's quite a respectful way to talk about sexuality. This guy's a gem."
Kravitz, 29, said that he is sexually attracted to both men and women and called Josephs' comments offensive.
"That kind of taunting is going to make it more difficult for closeted members of the LGBT community to be comfortable with themselves," Kravitz said. "It's damaging."
But others said the remarkable quarrel itself was a sign of progress.
"We've hit a new high point when candidates are accused of pretending to be gay to win a seat," said Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News and a pioneering civil rights advocate.
"I've been doing this for 40 years, and I never have heard of this kind of charge in any race in the nation," he said. "I take that as flattery. It shows how far we've come."
Audio of Rep. Josephs' remarks is here. Meanwhile, Kravitz sent out a campaign email this morning stating: "It is disturbing that at a time when there are so many issues and ideas that should be discussed by our representatives that my opponent in this race has decided to spread lies about my sexuality, my family and even my employment as a way to cling to her elected position of 25 years. But times are changing."
By way of context: this is a downtown, highly liberal district (it includes my office) in which every two years like clockwork, some young local progressive challenges Rep. Josephs in a primary -- more because of the desire of young ambitious activists to serve in Harrisburg than any particular fault of Josephs'. Thus far, every time the challenger has fallen short, though coming as close as 237 votes in 2006.
Josephs has the endorsement of the Liberty City Democratic Club -- Philadelphia's main LGBT political organization -- and both hers and Kravitz's detailed questionnaires provided to the group are online.