One of the reasons the murder of Robert Wone reverberates within the gay community is because one of the defendants, Joe Price, was a leading advocate of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. He helped found and served as General Counsel of Virginia Equality. He is a brilliant and outspoken advocate on the rights of same-sex couples to get married.
But more than that, Joe Price and his domestic partner Victor Zaborsky were portrayed as a model gay couple, whether or not they viewed themselves in that way. They were willing to let the media into their personal life when they opened up to USA Today about their biological parenting of two children, one fathered by each of them, with a lesbian couple in Silver Spring, Maryland. The lesbian couple, Kim Musheno and Catherine Alston, and their relationship with Price and Zaborsky were then profiled by the Human Rights Campaign to highlight the discrimation that gay and lesbian couples face without the legal right to marriage.
However what Joe Price portrayed to the public does not reconcile nicely with the private Joe Price. The passionate advocate for same-sex civil marriage, which by definition is two people, is in a committed polyamorous relationship. I wouldn’t say that Joe Price is a hypocrite, actually far from it, but his private life seems to contradict his public adovocacy. And if one is fighting for policy changes that deal squarely with personal issues such as marriage, one would think they would want their personal situation to mirror what they are fighting for.
So why didn’t Joe Price fight for opening up marriage to more than two people? Maybe because that position is not politically viable. More than likely, he wouldn’t have been exalted as a mainstream gay leader by fighting for legalizing polyamorous relationships. In fact, I bet he would have been shunned by much of the gay political establishment. HRC would not have profiled his relationship because it flies in the face of its advocacy agenda. The bigots, such as former Senator Rick Santorum, would have highlighted Joe Price’s advocacy as the true example of what the “gay agenda” was trying to achieve. Joe Price didn’t want this for his career, instead he wanted the fame and stature that came with being a gay leader who fought for issues popular with the mainstream. Yet, it would have been far more couragous for Price to fight for legalizing polyamorous relationships because that was in line with who he is as a man.
All of us have a flaw in some way or another, and we all have incongruity in our lives. Joe Price’s contradiction would have remained largely unknown and private if it weren’t for Robert Wone’s slain body in Joe Price’s second floor guest bedroom on August 2, 2006.