New Jersey Governor James McGreevey's resignation statement was brilliant.
Threatened with a sexual harassment lawsuit by his alleged male lover, having appointed him, a thoroughly unqualified man, as homeland security advisor at a time when America, in particular, the New York metropolitan area, is threatened with horrific terror and with any number of other instances of corruption already revealed and more likely to come out, Governor McGreevey saw the future and realized he had to resign from office.
But the way he did it was a masterstroke. He turned opprobrium into compassion.
He did it with one sentence. "I am a gay American."
On the face of it, it is irrelevant to whatever wrongs he may have committed against his state, his wife or his religion. But he did so because he knew that it would immediately deflect attention from his actions to his sexual orientation.
And then he would receive at least as much understanding and compassion as condemnation.
Because the moment he announced he was gay, people assumed that he did what he did because a homophobic society forced him, a homosexual, to live a fraudulent heterosexual life.
Who then could blame him? If society forced you, dear heterosexual male reader, to live with a man all your life and deny yourself the physical love of a woman, wouldn't you, too, eventually crack under the pressure and make love to a woman?
That is how at least half the country thinks about McGreevey now: "Well, he was wrong, and sure, he shouldn't have given that man a six-figure-a-year job advising the governor of New Jersey on the life and death issue of security, but let's be decent here. The guy's gay, and he's been living with a woman all his adult life."
Moreover, the country -- or at least its liberal half, which includes the leading news media -- has a different standard for homosexual and heterosexual sins. Heterosexual men who have many partners are condemned as womanizers; homosexual men who have many partners are largely ignored. There are no "manizers."
When Massachusetts gay congressman Barney Frank confirmed, as reported by the Washington Post, "that he paid Stephen Gobie for sex, hired him with personal funds as an aide and wrote letters on congressional stationery on his behalf to Virginia probation officials," and that Gobie ran a gay prostitution service from Congressman Frank's apartment, it meant nothing to his voters or to most of the country. Imagine, on the other hand, if a heterosexual politician had such a relationship with a call girl who ran a prostitution ring from his home. The man would have been forced to resign in a week.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”