One’s sexuality is no-one else’s business

Ex-minister for Transport David Campbell was not my favourite person. How could he be, being partly responsible for NSW’s dismal record on public transport? If I had a vote in his electorate, I would try to get rid of him – though without much hope of Labor replacing him with anyone better.

However, his resignation from Cabinet was not right. It had nothing to do with government car use, or hypocrisy over morals. It was the realpolitik realisation that a married man going to a gay club was a political liability. And that’s a sad indictment of the state of our society – or at least his fellow politicians’ assessment of it.

Mr Campbell, I’m sorry it happened this way, and I admire your fortitude when facing the media. I’m also sorry the Premier didn’t refuse your resignation and try to defend common decency forthrightly. What happens just between consenting adults is not something requiring public inspection, no matter who you are.

UPDATE 30/5/2010

David Laws of the UK Liberal Democrats has just resigned as finance minister. He too was trying to keep his sexuality secret (his words, not mine), but in contrast to David Campbell, he was breaching his public duties in doing so by channelling money to his partner.

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20 Responses to One’s sexuality is no-one else’s business

  1. Legal Eagle says:

    Well said. I have no idea about Campbell as a minister, as I am what my grandparents call a “Vicwegian”, but if transport in NSW is anything like transport in Vic, it’s pathetic. Sexuality shouldn’t come into it. The only thing that matters is how someone performed their job.

  2. Jarrah says:

    Thanks, LE. And after visiting Melbourne a couple of times and using its public transport, I have to say that Sydney is much worse.

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  4. JD THE DJ says:

    I think most people miss the key issue with this story. Or at best focus on the crap the media has put forward. The heart of this issue is credability not sexuality. I think it was grubby that the media out’d him like this but now that it is then the issue to me is about crediability.

    Surely a voter has the right to ask what else has he lied about or could lie about? If he can live a double life and lie to his wife and friends (all of which appear to have not known about this second life) then how can he be trusted?

  5. Jarrah says:

    That’s drawing a long bow, JD. In fact, I think your comment highlights the whole problem – the cross-over of public and private life. If he lies at home, I don’t care (and it’s not established that he did anyway). If he lies about his portfolio, or his conduct as a minister, then he should be summarily sacked.

    Think of it this way – everyone lies. Should we all be sacked from our jobs? What about Abbott and his recent line “I’m usually not telling the truth”?

    I guess at this point you would argue that politicians are different, that they have accepted a public position that requires a higher standard of personal life. I think that’s rubbish. Politicians are NOT the guardians of public morals. They are there to govern, nothing more.

  6. john walker says:

    Jarraha – Nice to see you back.

    Wondering a bit about why this happened to’ him’. I expect that if you hung outside any gay club or posh brothel in Darlo or a ‘I have been a bad boy ..spankme’ joint in Fyshwick ,you would catch plenty of big fish.
    Call me cynical but Campbell has been replaced by Robinson as transport minister . Transport ministers are in a good position to award lots of construction contracts ,no?

  7. Rutty Snails says:

    Should come as welcome news to all the folk at the GreenWay, Friends of the Greenway, IWEG, Marrickville Council, Leichhardt Council, Ashfield Council, various bike, walking and other interested parties that they are letting the rail corridor “go to waste” Mr E. marginata.

  8. JD THE DJ says:

    “Think of it this way – everyone lies. Should we all be sacked from our jobs?”. That is being Silly. Be reasonable we are talking about degrees here. Is a white lie the same as lying about having an affair?

    Do you also think when people walk out the door of their home that they flick a switch and go ok now I need to be truthful as I am in my public life. What a silly notion!

    “I guess at this point you would argue that politicians are different, that they have accepted a public position that requires a higher standard of personal life. I think that’s rubbish. Politicians are NOT the guardians of public morals. They are there to govern, nothing more.”

    Utter tripe and I’ll tell you why. 1) All jobs have parts that are not laid out in their Job Descriptions but are still an important part of their role (as an example I am in marketing and no where in my Job description does it say build relationships with sales – but that is a key part of what I do) 2) As I have said it is all about degrees. I have no issue with Campbell’s sexuality. I do however have issue if he had an affair as this shows poor judgment and an ability to lie about important issues (How more important could you get than an affair and lying about it?) 3) By your rational you would have no issue in having a member of parliament that engages in Domestic Violence? What they do in their personal life is their own business?

  9. Jarrah says:

    Rutty, I presume you’re referring to my letter, but apparently you missed where I didn’t say “rail corridor”, but “freight line”, which isn’t being used. In fact, the light rail extension will extend and consolidate and improve the uses the corridor is marginally used for now in a formal GreenWay. Anyway, this conversation belongs on the appropriate thread, if you want to continue.

  10. Jarrah says:

    JD, you are right, there are degrees. It’s kind of my point – lying (or hiding) something that was relevant to his ministerial obligations would be important. Hiding his personal predilections from a public who has no business knowing anything about them is of a far lesser degree. To the public, that is, which is what this is about. His visits to gay sex clubs are of great importance to his wife, for sure, but of no importance to us.

    “By your rational you would have no issue in having a member of parliament that engages in Domestic Violence? ”

    Now it is you who is being Silly. Are you saying sex between consenting adults is on the same level as assault?

  11. john walker says:

    JD– Assault is a criminal offense, adultery with another consenting adult of either gender is not.
    There is of course the matter of possibly being open to blackmail, but there is absolutely no evidence at all that Mr Campbell’s sexual orientation had any effect upon his carrying out his public duties at all.
    If it had been a heterosexual infidelity, nothing would have been published .

  12. john walker says:

    Sorry this is totally unrelated .. remove it if you want.
    But with the ‘shock ‘resignation of Mr Fraser :’they are not really liberals’ . The coming election just looks more and more like an unpopularity contest — -perhaps a tote on the answer to: ‘mirror mirror who is the most unattractive of them all?’?

  13. JD THE DJ says:

    “If it had been a heterosexual infidelity, nothing would have been published ”

    Um John Della Bosca? What short memories we have

  14. JD THE DJ says:

    “Now it is you who is being Silly. Are you saying sex between consenting adults is on the same level as assault?” And “JD– Assault is a criminal offense, adultery with another consenting adult of either gender is not.”

    An extreme example but none the less shows my example about degrees. But the question still stands. And John it is technically not an assault if the person does not press charges. For it to become assault it needs to be without the persons consent. I can think of a number of instances where by domestic violence has not been reported because the person thought it was their “fault”. How would you deal with this if it became public? Is that acceptable that a politician (or anyone for that matter) to do this.

    “It’s kind of my point – lying (or hiding) something that was relevant to his ministerial obligations would be important. Hiding his personal predilections from a public who has no business knowing anything about them is of a far lesser degree.”

    You’re segregating public and private in neat little compartments and I do not believe that is possible. I agree that if he told his wife that he was working late and he ducked out to the pub for a few beers with mates I don’t see an issue with this. But this is not the case. If he had an affair then he had lied and to me it is part of the character of a person. Personal or public. He has a job as a politician to yes govern but also to make promises and pledges. If he has the ability to lie for 2 decades on such an important thing why would I believe that he tells any truths in his role? Would you agree that having an affair and lying about it damages ones credibility and has all of the past (and future) questioned?

  15. Jarrah says:

    “it is technically not an assault if the person does not press charges.”

    That’s not true. Unreported crimes are still crimes. And consent is a tricky area, I wouldn’t be so confident as you are about it.

    “If he had an affair ”

    OK, let’s clarify. AFAIK, no evidence of an affair exists – he went to sex clubs, not to a mistress. Also, we do not know if his wife knew of his visits and what she thought of them.

    “He has a job as a politician to yes govern but also to make promises and pledges. ”

    Who doesn’t?

    “If he has the ability to lie for 2 decades on such an important thing why would I believe that he tells any truths in his role?”

    So once a liar, always a liar? Regardless, he didn’t lie to me or you, or the public. He hid his sexuality from the public, and I still don’t see the reason why he should have been expected to reveal it.

    Remember, I don’t condemn people not wanting to vote for someone they think is duplicitous, but I’ll say again that, in my opinion, the form and manner of his deception did not warrant either his outing or his resignation. His sexual identity and preferences are private matters, and he had the right to keep them private.

  16. Jarrah says:

    Post updated with similar case that reinforces my point.

  17. john walker says:

    JD

    Leaders/politicians tend , to be Alpha personalities = highly sexual. If you wanted to, you could bust an a fair few in any parliament . ‘Scandals’ of this sort are usualy of the : ‘ bad luck about being singled out old chap’ kind or they happen for reasons other than those publicly stated. Mr Campbells double life was ( I have heard) not all that secret and there is absolutely no evidence that it had any adverse effects on the performance of his duties.
    As To Mr Della Bosca there is a fair bit of evidence that the private arrangements of the Dela Boscas were detrimentally impinging on their public duties.

  18. john walker says:

    Jarrha
    I was just reading an New Scientist report of a visit to a Libertarian climate septic ‘conference’ that sounded like a room full of Jack Ripper ‘preserve our bodily fluids’ nutters.
    Perhaps you might be better off becoming a Deakinite a civic-minded, lower case liberal? we do have better manners.

  19. Jarrah says:

    John, if you mean the Heartland Institute, it’s not a libertarian conference, it just attracts a certain kind, along with many others. It’s sad to see libertarians support it, and I argued against the ALS giving it any last year, but ideological libertarians look at the likely economic and social consequences of proposed AGW mitigation and their reflexes take over. Of course, as I’ve said before, there is an argument consistent with libertarian principles that allows government action on climate change.

    However, those principles don’t matter much to me because it is my utilitarian standpoint that leads me to advocate moderate libertarian policies, rather than the adoption of an ideology that dictates my advocacy. So I can’t simply “become” something else.

  20. john walker says:

    Les Murrays father used to describe a local shopkeeper as being ”too close’:” he never says… near enough”.

    “my utilitarian standpoint that leads me to advocate moderate libertarian policies, rather than the adoption of an ideology that dictates my advocacy.”

    Near enough, sprawl is, as the poem says, ” the spirit of my country”

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