Former Republican U. S. Representative Mark Foley
U. S. Congressman Mark Foley Abruptly Resigned in Disgrace
As reported by National Public Radio: United States Rep. Mark Foley has resigned, effective immediately, in the face of questions about e-mails he wrote to a former male page. Before news of the e-mails surfaced, the Florida Republican had been predicted as an easy winner over Democrat Tim Mahoney. But now Foley’s run of six terms has ended amid questions from the media and his challenger about why the congressman, 52, wrote several e-mails to the former page, who was 16 at the time of the unusually personal exchange earlier this year. Coming 39 days before the election, Foley’s resignation took the shape of just two sentences, in which he announced his decision and apologized to his constituents for “letting down my family and the people of Florida.”
Questions about Foley’s sexuality are not new; when he considered running for the Senate in 2004, it became an issue. But Foley, who is single, cited his right to privacy. In Congress, Foley has been known as a reliable Republican vote — conservative but not dogmatic. He represented the wealthy South Central Florida district that includes Palm Beach. In a region bedeviled by hurricanes, Foley was instrumental in getting money for the district. He was also the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus.
Honorable Quote of the Day: A Dignified Response from Andrew Sullivan
“For almost my entire adult life, I’ve been openly gay. Why? It was too humiliating and psychologically destructive to lie. I don’t think of this as a virtue, really. In some ways, I think it was my pride that forced me to be honest with myself and others; and a deep sense that obviously this was how God made me, and it behooved me to deal with it forthrightly. It was alo fueled by a conviction, as the 1980s darkened for so many gay men, that I had an actual responsibility to be out, and to advance the dignity of so many fighting literally for their lives. It was like being black in the 1950s. My own HIV diagnosis convinced me to fight harder, because I truly believed it might not be for much longer. And in those years and beyond, others chose to sit it out, to run for cover, even to distance themselves from who they were and from their fellows who so desperately needed their help.
Maybe we should feel anger at these people. I don’t. I feel sadness. Sadness at the compromises they made and the misery they fueled for themselves. In so far as someone like Jim McGreevey has, for whatever reason, overcome his shame, then I have no interest in judging him. I feel glad he has found some happiness at last, despite his past corruption, human flaws and past opposition to marriage equality. We are all human, and my own life has its own share of emotional and sexual mistakes. Equally, the news about Mark Foley has a kind of grim inevitability to it. I don’t know Foley, although, like any other gay man in D.C., I was told he was gay, closeted, afraid and therefore also screwed up. What the closet does to people – the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds – is brutal. There are many still-closeted gay men in D.C., many of them working for a Republican party that has sadly deeply hostile to gay dignity. How they live with themselves I do not fully understand. But I have learned you cannot judge someone’s soul from outside. That I leave to them and their God, and some I count as good friends and good people.
What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I’ve read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty. While gays were fighting for thir basic equality, Foley voted for the “Defense of Marriage Act”. If his resignation means the end of the closet for him, and if there is no more to this than we now know, then it may even be for the good. Better to find integrity and lose a Congressional seat than never live with integrity at all.”–Andrew Sullivan, Author.