PHILADELPHIA – The old tactic of dragging out an opponent’s sexual skeletons for political gain is being turned on its head in the City of Brotherly Love.
In a left-leaning district anchored by a roughly three-square-block area known as the Gayborhood, where gay pride rainbows grace even the street signs, a state representative accuses her foe of pretending to be bisexual to win votes.
Rep. Babette Josephs says Gregg Kravitz, her challenger in the May 18 Democratic primary for the 182nd District House seat, told her he was gay, then appeared at a campaign event with a woman who introduced herself as his girlfriend.
“I outed him as a straight person, and now he goes around telling people, quote, ‘I swing both ways,’ ” Josephs told supporters April 15 in recorded comments at a fundraiser. “That’s quite a respectful way to talk about sexuality.”
She continued: “There will be cheating (during the election) if he can get away with it, because he already has tried to lie to people about a whole bunch of stuff, including his sexuality.”
Kravitz said that he isn’t using his sexual orientation as a “primary talking point.” He noted that his campaign website makes no mention of it, but said he believes that his perspective would be a benefit in Harrisburg to the district’s gay constituents.
“There’s a difference between having an ally in the community and having a person who’s a member of the community in the Statehouse,” he said. “I have a personal stake in the issues.”
So is it now a plus to be gay, lesbian or bisexual when running for office?
“It shows how far we’ve come; it’s almost a delight,” said Mark Segal, a gay rights activist and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, which is endorsing Josephs.
But a spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a Washington-based political action committee that supports gay and lesbian candidates, said it’s not necessarily a sign of increasing currency for non-straight politicians.
“This is a new one on me,” Denis Dyson said.
“There are only a few places where being openly LGBT might be a net plus: in this district in Philadelphia, Dupont Circle in Washington, the Castro in San Francisco,” he said. “In the vast majority of places – and vast majority is an understatement – it’s still a hurdle.”
Kravitz, 29, describes himself as openly bisexual and currently in a relationship with a woman. He was the one who came forward with the recording, made by a supporter, and called Josephs’ statements “dishonest and disgusting.”
Josephs, a widowed mother of two, said that she was taking issue with her opponent’s credibility, not his sexual orientation.