Mark Kirk plays down gay rumors

Thu. June 3, 2010 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

Kirk remains under fire for factual errors in military record

Chicago, IL - As Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk remains under fire from the mainstream media for factual errors regarding his military service, WGN TV remains the only local media to pick up on an Internet report that the Republican U.S. Senate candidate is a closeted gay man.

WGN-TV reporter Randi Belisomo asked Kirk about the "outing" after his meeting with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board Thursday afternoon. The five-term North Shore congressman was at the Tribune to answer questions about a series of errors surrounding his 21-year record as a Navy reservist.

While not directly denying claims about his sexuality, Kirk during the awkward exchange offered that people might be confused because of his recent divorce. He told Belisomo that he hopes to remarry someday. Kirk has no children and divorced his wife Kimberly Vertolli last year.

Questions about Kirk's sexuality first became public during the February Illinois Primary when Republican rival Andy Martin suggested Kirk is gay.

Tuesday those questions resurfaced when blogger Mike Rogers, who "outed" Sen. Larry Craig and Rep. Mark Foley, cited several unidentified sources who confirmed Kirk is gay. Rogers said the sources contacted him following Kirk's vote against the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) repeal.

The Human Right Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, pulled its endorsement of Kirk after he voted against repeal of DADT last week. The group has since thrown its support behind Illinois Treasurer and Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias. Kirk is considered a moderate gay ally and received an 85% rating from HRC.

As these claims continue to grow, there is always the possibility of a Navy investigation as to Kirk's sexual orientation. DADT, which Kirk ironically voted to uphold last week, allows for a military inquiry to begin with no substantive evidence being offered. Were the allegations determined to be true, Kirk could be discharged.

The Kirk campaign has not responded to a request for comment.