OPINION: What Neomi Rao Could Have Told Cory Booker About Gay Relationships

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Daniel Oliver Contributor
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“Are gay relationships, in your opinion, immoral?”

That was the question New Jersey Sen. Cory “Spartacus” Booker asked D.C. Circuit Court nominee Neomi Rao at her recent confirmation hearing.

In this quiz you are asked to determine three items: (A) the correct answer to the above question, (B) the answer actually given by the witness, and (C) the staircase wit answer. “Staircase wit” is the remark, often a repartee, you think of after the event, probably on your way up the staircase to bed.

For example, in October 1988, after vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle mentioned President Kennedy in a debate with vice presidential candidate Sen. Lloyd Benson, Benson said famously, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” to which Quayle might have replied, but didn’t, “If you knew him that well, Lloyd, you’d know Michael Dukakis is no Jack Kennedy either.”

Please choose A, B, and C from the following possibilities:

1. “Um, senator, I’m not sure the relevance of that to—“

2. “Senator, that could depend on the nature of the relationship. Many relationships could seem to be one thing, but actually be something else. Or they could seem to be another kind of relationship, but actually be something entirely different. Without knowing all the facts, it can be difficult to say with certainty. A senator and a page would be one kind of relationship but two senators might be something different.”

3. “Senator, do these relationships of which you speak involve sex? And if so, could you please graphically describe the sexual acts, including naming the interacting body parts?”

4. “Senator, that is actually a very interesting question. I would answer by noting that homosexuals comprise only about 4.5 percent of this country, according to a new estimate by the Gallup Organization. And while that amounts to more than 11 million people, it is still a small percentage. That figure of 4.5 percent is up from the 3.5 percent figure Gallup found in 2012, the first year Gallup started asking the question. The new, higher figure is driven, it is thought, by the millennials (people born between 1980 and 1999), but is suspect because they are probably to some extent simply experimenting with lifestyles, based on popular culture, and not yet committed to any one set of rules.”

5. “Yes.”

6. “Senator, are you asking me if I’m gay?”

7. “Senator, that question is most interesting because it posits the existence of right and wrong, of moral behavior and immoral behavior. You might ask, ‘Is discrimination against blacks wrong?’ I think we would all, or at least most of us, answer ‘yes.’ But why would we answer that? How would we get to that conclusion? Where do we look for the answer? Our parents? Our grandparents? Our schools and teachers? The news media? The Supreme Court?

“And does it depend on when you ask the question? If the answer today is that discrimination against blacks is immoral, can it be that it was not immoral yesterday? Is discrimination inherently immoral, today, tomorrow, yesterday, and always?

“And — and this is the important part — how do we tell? Do we vote on it? Is this a case of majority rule? What if a majority votes to discriminate against blacks? Does that make racial discrimination moral too? What if the Supreme Court says discrimination is okay: does that make it okay?

“I think it is fair to say that homosexual relationships either are immoral or they are not. I think you would agree that there cannot be any question that in our parents’ day, homosexual relationships were immoral. If they are not immoral today, then the two key questions are, when and how did they become not immoral?”

The answers to the quiz: (A) #5 is the correct answer to Booker’s question. (B) #1 was the answer given. (C) The staircase wit answer is #7 if you live in a five-story building and #6 if you live in a one-story walk-up.

After you hand in your bluebook, please phone Sen. Booker’s office and ask when homosexual relationships became not immoral.

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.