The tea-party is beginning to get serious. Knocking off Specter - now Crist, with possibly McCain to follow - it was inevitable they'd get around to Lindsay Graham eventually. And - not that they're intolerant or anything - Graham's ambiguous sexual orientation (like Elena Kagan's) is a big fat target.

What's fascinating to me is how there is a practical overlap here between the gay left and the tea-party right. Pro-outing gay groups would dearly love to out Graham, but the tea-partiers are upping the gay left's ante. Both see the concealment of Graham's orientation as a threat; the left sees it as yet another way in which Washington engages in fantastic hypocrisy and still can't enact laws to provide full equality for gay citizens; the right somehow sees it as a secret sign of Graham's "un-American" views, or as a way in which he is subject to blackmail.

And that is what is truly disgusting about William Gheen's rant. It both insinuates that Graham's gayness  might be inherently un-American, and explicitly explains Graham's more moderate views on immigration as the product of liberal blackmail. This last claim truly is a function of bizarre paranoia. Are Washington liberals actually threatening to out Butters if he doesn't play ball in immigration or financial reform or Afghanistan? Please. Is Graham unable to make his own mind up on issues regardless of his sexual orientation?

I remain opposed to outing anyone except the most hard-core hypocrites. But I remain just as passionately in favor of gay people being out - for their sake and the sake of a better understanding and dialogue on gay issues, and as a way to get past the gay question altogether. Kagan and Graham need to understand that kinda-ask-sorta-tell can't work any more. And the choice to clear the air is theirs' if they want to take advantage of it.

Do they have that courage? Do their respective parties?

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