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In Philly Election, One Candidate Outs the Other—As Straight

By L.K. Regan

The race for one of Philadelphia's seats in the state House of Representatives has heated up in recent days, as one candidate has accused the other of claiming to be bisexual—just in order to win votes. The truth, claims Babette Josephs (D., Phila., Pa.) is that her opponent, Greg Kravitz (pictured right), is secretly, shamefully, straight.

Babette Josephs is a 15-year veteran of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She is running against Greg Kravitz, a 29-year-old former campaign director for a Pennsylvania congressional candidate. Kravitz, who is openly bisexual, quit that job to enter the race for the state House himself. The district in question is one of those very rare places where gay credentials could actually help a candidate, as Philadelphia's "gayborhood" forms a substantial part of the voting area. Kravitz himself links his openness about his bisexuality to the interests of his constituents: "My sexuality is not a qualification for office," he has said. "I bring it up only in the context that it's important for the LGBT community to have a seat at the legislative table."

But, in her remarks to supporters at a Philadelphia restaurant—remarks that were recorded by Kravitz suppoters—Josephs tried to counter this key credential. She told the gathering, "I outed him as a straight person, and now he goes around telling people, quote, 'I swing both ways.' That's quite a respectful way to talk about sexuality. This guy's a gem." She made further links between Kravitz's alleged straightness and his character. "There will be cheating if he can get away with it," she reportedly said, "because he already has tried to lie to people about a whole bunch of stuff, including his sexuality."

Kravitz responded by suggesting that perhaps Josephs doesn't really know what bisexual means. "I'm a bisexual man," he told reporters in response to the current controversy. "I've had intimate relationships with both men and women, not that it's anyone's business. But that's what bisexual means." And, according to Josephs, he's been campaigning by calling her, well, old (Josephs is 70): "I wouldn't be concerned except for the fact that he's a trust-fund baby," Josephs said at the gathering, "he has as much money as needs; he does not have a job, he's 29 years old, he's never had a job; and so 24/7, he is out there talking to my friends, my supporters, my constituents, and saying, 'She's entrenched. She's part of the problem.' And I've been told he's even said, 'She's old.'"

Kravitz doesn't appreciate Josephs' odd outing effort. "That kind of taunting is going to make it more difficult for closeted members of the LGBT community to be comfortable with themselves," he said. "It's damaging."

But for Mark Segal, civil rights advocate and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, this fight is a good sign. "We've hit a new high point when candidates are accused of pretending to be gay to win a seat," he said. "I've been doing this for 40 years, and I never have heard of this kind of charge in any race in the nation. I take that as flattery. It shows how far we've come."