A top Santorum aide is gay The senator, who's been critical of gay rights, said his senior spokesman had his full support.

Posted: July 16, 2005

WASHINGTON — The senior spokesman for Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) yesterday confirmed to a Web log that he is gay.

According to PageOneQ, an online gay and lesbian publication, director of communications Robert L. Traynham, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, said that he was an "out gay man who completely supports the senator."

Santorum, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate leadership, has been an outspoken opponent of homosexual rights and a leading proponent of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Santorum, who was traveling in Pittsburgh, released the following statement:

"Robert Traynham . . . is widely respected and admired on Capitol Hill, both among the press corps and among the congressional staff, as a communications professional. Not only is Mr. Traynham an exemplary staffer, but he is also a trusted friend . . . to me and my family. Mr. Traynham is a valued member of my staff and I regret that this effort on behalf of people who oppose me has made him a target of bigotry in their eyes.

"It is entirely unacceptable that my staffs' personal lives are considered fair game by partisans looking for arguments to bolster my opponent's campaign. Mr. Traynham continues to have my full support and confidence as well as my prayers as he navigates this rude and mean spirited invasion of his personal life."

Mark Rodgers, chief of staff at the Republican conference, which Santorum chairs, said: "Robert is a tremendous employee and we're all for standing by him." Traynham's homosexuality was not news to the senator or his staff, he added.

In the online interview, Traynham said: "Sen. Santorum is a man of principle, he is a man who sticks up for what he believes in. I strongly do support Sen. Santorum."

Asked whether he supported Santorum's views on lesbian and gay issues, Traynham told PageOneQ: "Sen. Santorum is a family man. I have been with him for eight years and I am very proud to be with him."

The two-term senator is up for reelection next year. His likely Democratic opponent is State Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr.

Traynham began working for Santorum in 1997 as a press assistant and then deputy press secretary. He was press secretary for the senator's 2000 reelection campaign in Pennsylvania. Just before becoming communications director in the Senate office, Traynham served as director of communications for the Senate Republican Conference.

He holds a degree in political science from Cheyney University.

In supporting the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would prohibit same-sex marriage, Santorum has equated homeland security with the sanctity of traditional marriage. He has referred to gay marriage as "messing with the basic family unit."

During an interview with the Associated Press two years ago about a challenge to the constitutionality of Texas's sodomy law, Santorum said that if the Supreme Court allowed gay sex at home (which it ultimately did), "you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

On the marriage issue, Santorum also said: "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

Earlier this week, Santorum provoked a rare personal rebuke on the Senate floor following the reemergence of three-year-old comments he made linking Boston liberalism with the sexual-abuse scandals within the Roman Catholic Church there.

After Santorum declined to retract those comments, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D., Mass.) made a floor speech in which he said Santorum "has shown a deep and callous insensitivity to the victims and their suffering in an apparent attempt to score political points with some of the most extreme members of the fringe right wing of his party."

Yesterday the Massachusetts congressional delegation sent a letter to Santorum demanding an apology for his comments.

Contact staff writer Steve Goldstein at 202-383-6048 or slgoldstein@krwashington.com.

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