Pennsylvania State Rep. 'Outs' Primary Opponent as Being Straight

Incumbent Babette Josephs accused Gregg Kravitz of pandering to LGBT community.

April 23, 2010, 2:39 PM

April 23, 2010— -- Slinging insults about a candidate's sexual orientation has never been considered particularly high-brow, but a Pennsylvania state representative's recent attack on her opponent's professed bisexuality may be a new twist on the matter.

State Rep. Babette Josephs, a 25-year veteran of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, was recorded at a recent fundraising event accusing Democratic primary opponent Gregg Kravitz of lying about his bisexuality to pander to Philadelphia's powerful gay vote.

"I outed him as a straight person," Josephs, 69, said at the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, while Kravitz supporters recorded her speech.

"When we heard it, we were, frankly, shocked," Kravitz told

The 29-year-old, who quit his position as campaign director for congressional candidate Manan Trivedi to run for the 182nd district, emphatically denied that he ever lied about being bisexual.

"I'm a bisexual man," he said. "I've had intimate relationship with both men and women, not that it's anyone's business. But that's what bisexual means."

Denis Dison, spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which supports LGBT candidates across the country, was familiar with the dispute between Josephs and Kravtiz, and said it was an exceptionally rare argument.

"The idea that somebody would pretend to be part of the community to improve their chances of being elected is a fairly unique situation," he said.

Dison said that most of the candidates supported by the Victory Fund have the opposite problem -- their opponents try to make sexuality a campaign issue in hopes of swaying the voter away from the LGBT candidate.

"Whether or not she was attempting to smear him or attempting to, in her mind, get the truth out there," he said, "it's not something is … 99 percent of the time legitimate to discuss in the campaign."

Josephs, who is straight, has been a longtime outspoken advocate for LGBT rights and has championed the community's causes at the state level. Her district is home to the city's well-known "gayborhood."

And while the LGBT voters on their own don't make up the majority of the constituency, they and their straight supporters do.

But Josephs sidestepped questions about the accusations she lobbed at Kravitz, telling that she only made the comments to distinguish her own career of public service.

"It shows that it doesn't matter what your sexuality is, if you have no record, you're not qualified to be in office," she said.

When asked if she still believed Kravitz was not bisexual said she had "no notion" and that she never dated him or planned on it. She quickly ended the interview.

Primary Candidate Calls Opponent's Accusation 'Dirty Campaign Tactic'

Kravitz confirmed that he has been dating a woman since January -- Josephs pointed to that as evidence he was lying in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer -- but said that doesn't mean he isn't attracted to men.

"That fact that my opponent chooses to use this as part of her stump speech … is inappropriate and a dirty campaign tactic," he said.

In her speech at the Black Sheep, Josephs also called Kravitz a "trust fund baby" who has never had a real job.

Kravitz said that while he has a thick skin, he's concerned that Josephs' accusations could be damaging to people who are still in the closet and send a message to LGBT youth that coming out opens you up to ridicule.

"I sincerely hope that this campaign can go back to focusing on issues of substance," he said.

Kravitz, who has been publicly identifying himself as bisexual since college, said that while he doesn't go around telling everyone he meets, being open about his sexual orientation shows his constituents he has a "personal investment" in the community.

"It's not exactly something I walk around introducing myself, 'Hi I'm Gregg Kravitz and I'm bisexual,'" he said.

Micah Mahjoubian, co-chair of the Liberty City Democratic Club, said he was surprised at the attention the dispute has gotten, but that he's pleased about what it stands for.

"This incident I think illustrates how important candidates are taking the LGBT community," he said.

The Liberty City Democratic Club has endorsed Josephs in the primary, calling attention to her efforts to block efforts to ban same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

But club members, Mahjoubian said, have no reason to doubt Kravtiz's sexuality.

"Gregg identified himself as a member of the LGBT community," he said. "Of course we take him at word."

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