Blog “Outs” Antigay Congressman Edward Schrock Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Political activist Michael Rogers claimed on his blog that U.S. representative Edward Schrock was gay or bisexual. The blog entry linked to a recording alleged to be of Schrock speaking on a phone line for men seeking other men for gay sex. The outing led Schrock to end his 2004 reelection bid.

Summary of Event

When Democrat Owen B. Pickett announced he would leave the U.S. Congress at the end of his eighth term, in 2000, voters elected conservative Republican Edward Schrock to replace him. A former U.S. Navy admiral and Vietnam War veteran, Schrock won his Virginia district largely on the military vote. Already a state senator, Schrock’s election to the U.S. House of Representatives came as no surprise to political prognosticators, who noted Pickett was a conservative Democrat. Across the nation, several seats vacated by conservative Democrats were won by Republicans. [kw]Gay Congressman Edward Schrock, Blog “Outs” Anti- (Aug. 19, 2004) Schrock, Edward Rogers, Michael Congress, U.S.;Edward Schrock[Schrock] Homosexuality;"outing"[outing] Schrock, Edward Rogers, Michael Congress, U.S.;Edward Schrock[Schrock] Homosexuality;"outing"[outing] [g]United States;Aug. 19, 2004: Blog “Outs” Antigay Congressman Edward Schrock[03420] [c]Publishing and journalism;Aug. 19, 2004: Blog “Outs” Antigay Congressman Edward Schrock[03420] [c]Sex;Aug. 19, 2004: Blog “Outs” Antigay Congressman Edward Schrock[03420] [c]Politics;Aug. 19, 2004: Blog “Outs” Antigay Congressman Edward Schrock[03420] [c]Public morals;Aug. 19, 2004: Blog “Outs” Antigay Congressman Edward Schrock[03420]

Congress members Edward Schrock, right, and Tom DeLay at the White House in January, 2004.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

On August 19, 2004, political activist Michael Rogers claimed on blogActive.com that Schrock was a closeted homosexual or bisexual. Rogers included on his blog a link to voice data to support the accusation. Rogers, who has been committed to outing gay lawmakers who oppose gay and lesbian rights legislation, claimed Schrock had been placing advertisements on an interactive phone line for men seeking other men for gay sex.

It took only two weeks from the time Rogers posted the taped message for Schrock to resign. In that time, Rogers’s blog was accessed by countless politicians and others, who treated the findings like news they might encounter in the popular press. The popular press, in turn, had to scramble to keep up with the story, which grew quickly as people added their own perspectives by posting comments to the blog.

Schrock had made his name in the House as a strong opponent of gay and lesbian rights. Specifically, he cosponsored bills that would have banned same-gender Marriage;and homosexuality[homosexuality] marriage and barred lesbians and gays from openly serving in the military. With the failure of those bills, he strongly supported the official U.S. military policy known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a so-called compromise on the question of gays in the military. Schrock made public comments to the effect that having gays in the military was sexually dangerous, as they were impossible to recognize.

Schrock was named president of the Republican freshman House in 2001 and won a second term in the House in 2002. The Christian Coalition gave Schrock, an active Baptist, high ratings. However, his ascent came to an abrupt halt in 2004, a year marked by landslide Republican victories in Congress.

Rogers said he wanted to stop Schrock’s hypocrisy, arguing that the gay community as a whole has no obligation to protect gays and lesbians who actively oppose gay rights. When the allegations came to light, the Republican Party was supportive of Schrock, making glowing statements about his congressional record and focusing on his status in the House. Initially, it was believed that the allegations would not affect Schrock’s bid for reelection.

However, Schrock, on August 30, rescinded his bid for reelection, stating only that the allegations against him would prevent him from focusing on the real issues in his constituency. Rogers’s accusations were not supported by any material beyond the phone message, and he could not offer further proof that the voice on the call was, in fact, that of Schrock. However, Schrock’s withdrawal from the congressional race confirmed his guilt in the minds of many.

Republicans remained supportive of Schrock, who was married and had a child, and cited their disappointment that he should have to resign because of the mere suggestion of homosexuality. They claimed that his resignation was caused by Rogers’s intent to push a particular political viewpoint. However, Rogers, who said he was sorry to see Schrock resign, had a slightly different slant on the issue. Although still opposed to Schrock’s conservative politics and believing he was a hypocrite, Rogers had believed that by the year 2004, homosexuality should not have been so much of an issue that it could end any politician’s career.

The Republican Party chose Thelma Drake to run for the post vacated by Schrock, and she won the district that year and was reelected to a second term in 2006. By December of 2004, Schrock was back on Capitol Hill, though in a much less celebrated post, working as staff director for the House Government Reform Committee. In this diminished capacity, he was unable to block gay rights legislation and actively promote antigay legislation.

Impact

This scandal illustrates several points about American popular culture. Both the Republican Party and Rogers seem to agree that Schrock resigned because of the rumor that he had sought homosexual sex. Rogers argued that the rumor was true, while Schrock focused on how the claim would prevent him from working on the real issues of his election campaign. In either case, Schrock’s resignation demonstrates that homosexuality remains a political nightmare for those accused of being lesbian or gay or of seeking same-gender sex. The nightmare exists in the United States, even though there are several gay and lesbian politicians who are out. Specifically, that Schrock believed he had to resign indicates the negative implications homosexuality has within the Republican Party. Though the party remained outwardly supportive of Schrock, it did so under the flag of supporting an unfairly accused colleague, not of supporting one who was potentially gay or bisexual.

Rogers’s strategy is opposed by some gay and lesbian activists as well. Groups such as the Log Cabin Republicans, whose members are gay and Republican, disagree with outing closeted government officials, whatever their politics. Opponents of outing point out that no gay rights issues have been decided after outing an official, and they suggest that it is more effective to focus on the issues rather than the politicians. In turn, Rogers argues that conservative gays who oppose gay rights are effectively double dipping, enjoying gay-rights successes in their private lives while condemning those rights publicly. Other groups, such as the Human Rights Campaign Human Rights Campaign, argue that outing often deepens the already entrenched views of conservative opponents of gay and lesbian rights.

Rogers had a different point. The entire purpose of his blog has been to out closeted gay politicians who oppose gay rights legislation. He believes they are hiding behind party dogmas to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. His purpose in outing Schrock was to expose a man whom he believes was a conservative hypocrite and to demonstrate that gays are everywhere, regardless of political viewpoint. He argues that the gay community has a responsibility to expose gay politicians who hide their sexuality and, most important, do so while actively opposing legislation that harms the community.

Scandals such as the Schrock affair show a growing rift in the type of voters sought by the Republican and Democrat parties in the twenty-first century. For many years, Republicans have targeted right wing fundamentalist Christians, who have considered the Republican Party the only conservative option. Democrats have targeted a more left-wing group, selling themselves as the more liberal political party. Gay and lesbian rights have become so public, with issues such as gay marriage and gay military service regularly coming to Congress, that the Republicans and Democrats have taken largely opposing stances on these issues. In general, the Republicans oppose and the Democrats support gay rights. Thus, a stance in favor of gay rights is perceived as politically liberal, and for a group to be politically conservative and still favor gay rights seems contradictory to many, even though there is no reason the two perspectives cannot coexist. This means groups such as the Log Cabin Republicans are relatively rare and often find themselves on the outside when it comes to politics. Some conservative Republican politicians shun Log Cabin endorsements for fear of alienating other voters.

Finally, the scandal illustrates the importance of the World Wide Web and its influence on the media and politics in modern popular culture. Media influence on popular opinion affects politics and, with the addition of blogs, popular opinion is increasingly influencing the media. This cyclical relationship became even more clear with the Schrock scandal. Schrock, Edward Rogers, Michael Congress, U.S.;Edward Schrock[Schrock] Homosexuality;"outing"[outing]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Muzzy, Frank. Gay and Lesbian Washington, D.C. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Press, 2005. Double focus on the presence of gays and lesbians in the nation’s capital and their impact on politics.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Rauch, Jonathan. Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America. New York: Times Books/Henry Holt, 2004. Summarizes the state of gay and lesbian rights at the time of Schrock’s resignation. Primarily supports gay and lesbian marriage rights.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Shear, Michael D., and Chris L. Jenkins. “Va. Legislator Ends Bid for Third Term.” The Washington Post, August 31, 2004. Contemporary account of Schrock’s decision not to seek reelection, including his denial of guilt and the political community’s support of his legislative efforts. This mainstream media report was published twelve days after Rogers’s blog outing of Schrock.

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