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Why Should Details Of Patrick Murphy's Personal Life Matter In The DADT Debate?

First Posted: 04/05/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 04:25 PM ET

Democratic Convention

While I was rooting around yesterday, examining the coverage of this week's hearings on Don't Ask Don't Tell, I happened upon this piece in the Wall Street Journal, titled "Iraq Veteran Leads 'Don't Ask' Push". The article's primary focus was Representative Patrick Murphy (D-Penn.), who's been leading the Congressional effort to get DADT repealed. Buried in the article, I noticed a curious and ultimately troubling editorial choice. See if you can spot it!

"I served with great soldiers who were thrown out just because they were gay," said Mr. Murphy, who is married. "I was disheartened that the Constitution that I took an oath to support and defend was really being abused by that policy."

Did you see it? Here's a hint: let's take a look at the issues page on Murphy's website. Casting around, I see that Murphy supports things like "broad reform of our nation's health care system", "tax breaks for first responders" and that he "broke with his party to oppose the Democratic Budget... because he did not believe it did enough to guarantee middle class tax breaks and rein in government spending."

And yet, I'm having a hard time believing that any journalist anywhere would write something like:

Patrick Murphy, who is married, favors broad reform of our nation's health care system.

Or:

Patrick Murphy, who is married, favors tax breaks for first responders.

Or:

Patrick Murphy, who is married, broke with his fellow Democrats in opposing their proposed budget.

There's no other mention of any party's marital status in the article, save for the subject of the article -- Murphy -- who is spearheading the repeal effort. It's strange and it's creepy and it's frankly condescending in the way it suggests that Murphy's efforts are legit because it's a straight man sticking up for gay and lesbian soldiers, whose own judgments on the issue are biased, I guess? As if we can't completely trust the opinion of a Lieutenant Dan Choi or a Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach without a heterosexual co-signing it?

A reminder: in many parts of the United States, the fact that gays and lesbians are not permitted the privilege of being referred to as "married" in newspaper articles is not their fault!

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