Sunday, February 08, 2015

Democratic Secrets, Unlike Us Totally Open Republicans, Except When Keeping "Those" Secrets

Terry Mutchler. Under This Beautiful Dome: A Senator, a Journalist, and the Politics of Gay Love in America. Berkeley, Ca.: Seal Press, 2014.

The author had a committed lesbian relationship (they considered themselves “married” although gay marriage was not then legal) with State Sen. Perry Sevens, who had also been a nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois.. When Sevens died without a previous will, Mutcher learned that Seven’s words and instructions were legally meaningless. The house and possessions they had bought together became the property of Sevens’s relatives who took away the house, car, and belongings Mutchler had.

Mutchler and Sevens met while Mutchler was the Illinois Associated Press Bureau Chief and Sevens was in the State Senate. Mutchler fell in love with Sevens at first sight. When she learned she was a Senator, she knew it would be unethical for a journalist to date someone she reports on. That did not stop her for dating Sevens. Mutchler had previously dated an aide to Pennsylvania House Speaker Robert O’Donnell while she was a reporter. She was dating a man and she disclosed the relationship to her boss and al that happened was she was not allowed to report on the State House.

Mutcher gained note for writing about the involvement of organized crime in the Poconos. Mutchler was able to interview someone in the Witness Protection Proggram.

Sevens was the lead budget negotiator for the Senate Democrats. She was the first woman in this position. Mutcher interviewed Sevens hoping Sevens was available to dating. The interviews turned into dinners which turning into dating which, after six weeks of daitng, turned into living together.

Sevens unsuccessfully ran for Governor while they were dating. Sevens had to figure out how to down down appearances at political events for secret dates with Mutchler.

Sevens ran for State Treasurer. A candidate for Governor in the Democratic Primary, Dick Phelan, asked Sevens to run on a ticket with him for Lieutenant Governor. Sevens agreed to this. Sevens had fears that her campaign could be destroyed if the public learned of her relationship with Mutchler  Sevens also learned during the campaign she had cancer.

Phelan lost the primary for Governor. Sevens was thus on a ticket with Dawn Clark Netsch running for Governor. This was the first time in U.S. history where a major political party had women as nominees for both Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Sevens went public with news of her breast cancer. The press was generally favorable in showing that breast cancer patients can continue being active.

Sevens and Mutchler both paid for a new house. To hide their relationship, Mutchler’s name was not put on the deed.

Mutcher left journalism and entered law schoo. Mutchler handled media relations for Mutchler’s reelection campaign.

Sevens ran for Illinois Secretary of State. Sevens had emergency surgery due to a malignant tumor in her skull. The cancer had spread to her spine and ribs. Sevens meanwhile had a primary fight against Tim McCarthy, Orland Park’s Police Chief. A city employee was suspended for using a city vehicle to follow people gathering ballot petition signatures for Sevens. After a person would sign, this city employee would interview the person who signed.

The McCarthy campaign successfully challenged the Sevens nominating petitions House Speaker Michael Madigan supported he challenge despite initially denying he did It was determined the Sevens campaign was 176 signatures short and she was not placed on the ballot.

Sevens died for metastatic breast cancer.

Mutcher experienced the lack of legal rights that a gay partner had even though they lived their lives as if they were married. She even lost the sympathy cards.

Mutcher drank heavily and almost dropped out of law school. A friend helped her refocus. She graduated from law school and worked for a law firm. he supported Marriage Equality legislation. She became the first Pennsylvania Open Records Office Executive Director.


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