Under Scrutiny

2.1.2009

By Aaron Scott

Do you see this as having any lasting impact on the gay rights movement?
When a straight person screws up, and there have been a number of straight political figures who have, I don't think that paints a brush on all straight politicians. I think that Americans are smart enough to know that we're all unique. We're all individuals. We might belong to different clubs or organizations or demographic groups, but we're all individuals.

And at the same time we have ideals about some individuals. For a lot of people, Obama is almost more of a symbol than an individual. And I wonder if in a way you are the same. A charismatic new breed of politician.
Well, if there is a new breed of politician, let's hope that they're more'well, we're all human. I don't know how else to say it. We all make mistakes. We all need to own up to them. We all need to make amends. That's the path I'm on.

Do you think it will impact your ability to work for gay rights and gay marriage?
I'm going to continue to, as I have my entire career, play the role that is the most productive for any cause. Whether it's lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Do you feel like you're being held to a different standard because you're gay?
I think that's for others to decide. I work hard to meet and exceed high expectations. In this particular instance, in my personal life, I didn't, and I've been very up front about that. But I think the expectations people have for their elected officials are good, even if we don't or can't always meet them.

Do you think you've dealt well with this whole situation?
My primary goal was to deal with it in a very upfront way. So I've been less focused on dealing with it well or bad, but just to try to be upfront.

And yet people can accuse you of the fact that you said it didn't get romantic until after he turned 18, yet he said you kissed when he was 17.
And I'm not allowed to say anything. It's under investigation.

Was it under investigation during the press conference [in which you made that claim]?
No.

Yet you didn't say anything.
I'm not allowed to comment on that. It's under investigation. So I had my press conference, he's had his interview with The Oregonian. In the meantime, it's under investigation.

Is there a sense of relief that you no longer have to live with this secret?
Absolutely. Seventeen months of living this lie has been torturous. To get out from under that is a tremendous amount of relief, combined with a lot of shame, and I'm going to turn that into making amends. And getting Beau out from under that lie, and the guilt I have for asking him to do that, is also a huge relief.

You've been a strong advocate for the arts, and at the recent rally in your support, it was mostly artists and cultural leaders who spoke out to support you, down to Storm Large leading the crowd in the song 'Stand by Your Sam.' How did that make you feel?
When you're going through something like this, you're surprised by all. At home I was reading the blogs and the news coverage for a couple of days, so that was my view of the world. And I heard there was going to be this press conference and rally, and it was shockingly touching, because the blogs and the news coverage for the first 48 hours was really very negative, and appropriately so. But I thought that was the full extent of it, so when folks stepped forward and tried to offer some balance, that was really touching. I can't tell you how grateful I am for their willingness to do that. To put it on the line like that.

Do you think you can weather it?
I intend to work hard at that. It's an each and every day kind of thing. And it's not going to be easy, because during this time of investigation I can't defend myself, I can't talk about it. It was a poor judgment I made in the context of a campaign, but I've also got 23 years of public service, and I can put that to use for the best interest of the city. And I'm going to work hard to regain people's trust. And I want to stay.

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