Mike Rogers – The Most Feared Man on the Hill
A blogger outs homosexual infidelities in Washington
In the past ten years many states have recognized marriage equality, but in 2004, Republicans were at our nation’s helm and debates about LGBT rights were creating a massive wedge in politics. On one side was President George Bush and his administration, vehemently opposing the rights of homosexuals to marry or serve in the military, on the other, Democrats and activists working for equal rights. Massachusetts was the only state where same sex couples could legally wed, and there seemed to be little hope for change. In 2005 blogger Mike Rogers decided he’d had enough –there were homosexual Republicans working in Washington, and he was going to out them.
Many of the politicians Rogers suspected of homosexual tendencies were the very people working against legal protection for gay rights. In an early interview with Bill O’Reilly, Rogers said his efforts were not in judgment of these politician’s sex lives or orientation, but their hypocrisy. While touting themselves as homophobic gained them political favor with the anti-gay administration of the time, real repercussions were being felt by same sex couples, who fought an upward battle to adopt children, visit a loved one in the ICU, or get a loan for a house—much less get married. Enough was enough.
From 2004 to 2007, Rogers worked on “The List,” a comprehensive overview of Republicans who were working against the LGBT community despite living a homosexual lifestyle themselves. It didn’t take long before the acquisitions of it began to stick.
A full year before U.S. Representative Mark Foley was caught seeking sexual relations via email and AOL instant messenger from teenage congressional pages in 2006, Rogers had written a piece about him. While Foley was not legally married, his act was an infidelity, to his long-term domestic partner Layne Nisenbaum, to the LGBT community that he had voted against, and to the common decency that forbids adults to solicit children. Ironically, the very laws that he had worked to pass were the same laws that made him eligible for prosecution. Foley quickly resigned, checking himself into rehab for a “drinking problem” and admitting that he was indeed a homosexual.
Again and again, Rogers proved to be right. Ken Mehlman, Ed Schrock, James McCreary – by the end Blogactive.com had exposed evidence of close to 30 hypocritical politicians, living in the closet and working against LBGT equality. Perhaps most infamous, and definitely most unexpected, was the Larry Craig scandal.
Senator Larry Craig married his wife Suzanne in 1983, but his extreme objection to the “homosexual lifestyle” in 2006 led Rogers to believe he might be hiding something himself. Only nine months before Craig was caught soliciting sex from an undercover cop in an airport bathroom on June 11, 2007, he had been featured on one of Rogers’s blogs. Within months other gay men had come forward with allegations of relations with Craig. Despite pressure from Republicans, Craig refused to resign; however, the incident effectively ended his political career.
In 2009, Rogers was the subject of the documentary Outrage, a film that explored institutionalized homophobia in Washington. In the media attention to follow, some accused Rogers of being an unethical bully, but just last summer Rogers himself wrote an article explaining why he stood by his actions. He said:
“These very politicians make my private life – and the lives of millions of others LGBT Americans –a very public political issue. Outing is the indiscriminate disclosure of someone’s sexual orientation without his or her consent. Reporting is not at all indiscriminate – and it has a higher purpose. What my blog did was reveal the hypocrisy of politicians, to show that people who control the nation’s political and legal systems often have different standards for themselves.”
Today, much has changed. It is no longer politically fashionable to be homophobic, and many have recanted earlier statements and shifted to a pro-LGBT frame of mind, a position that no longer makes one automatically a Democrat. State by state the nation is gaining marriage equality, and while there is still work to be done, America is slowly becoming a welcoming place for homosexuals to live. Mike Rogers will always be remembered as a voice of change, not to mention an uncanny ability to predict where the next scandal would appear.