This is a public man who lived a double-life for decades. He publicly pushed the religous right's agenda, which included opposition to any gay civil rights issues, while living a private life as a gay man. When he was outed by Blogactive.com last year, he refused to acknowledge he was gay, but he apparently made some promises to the Human Rights Campaign to turn over a new leaf. It endorsed his re-election this year for the first time. HRC no longer feels the same way about Foley. The group's head, Joe Solmonese said of Foley today:
Gay or straight, Democrat or Republican, it is completely inexcusable for an adult to have this kind of communication with a minor. Congressman Foley brought shame on himself and this Congress by his horrible behavior and complete lack of judgment. We strongly condemn his behavior.
Of course Foley wants everyone to know that he is gay now. But it's really just a poor excuse to feel sorry for him. Worse yet, he uses the sexually-abused excuse to explain his gayness and apparent mental problems, playing on the worst bigoted views of why people are gay. In this respect he's in the bad company of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, who only admitted he was gay after he got caught sexually harassing a male staffer he had entrusted with the state's homeland security. Like Foley, McGreevey invoked his gay confession as a way of garnering sympathy for him and deflecting attention away from the real issue, which was the official misconduct he committed in office. His new tell-all book, "The Confession", provides an excuse for him to make money on the talk show circuit, including the requisite appearance on Oprah, to convince folks he isn't a bad guy at all. He's just gay.
When people commit crimes against people because they are gay, they often invoke what is called a "gay panic" defense to excuse their crimes. You know, I became temporarily insane when a gay guy propositioned me so I did what any normal, heterosexual man would do, I clubbed him with a baseball bat. Fortunately, that defense doesn't work as well as it once did. Likewise, it shouldn't work in reverse when hypocritical men like Foley and McGreevey try to use it to excuse their misdeeds only when they get caught doing something that is wrong for anyone to do, gay or straight.