Former Maryland Rep. Robert Bauman, who as a champion of the New Right once voted against a congressional measure to ban discrimination against homosexuals, will address the American Bar Association next week in support of a gay rights resolution.
Bauman, a sharp-tongued and clever orator in his three terms in Congress whose ultraconservative political base was shattered by disclosures in 1980 that he had solicited sex from a teen-age boy, also is considering moving to San Francisco, according to friends.
At next week's ABA convention in Atlanta, Bauman will be on a three-member panel focusing on "legal perspectives on gay rights issues," Dan J. Bradley, chairman of the ABA's homosexual rights committee, said yesterday.
"I think he has a lot in his heart and his mind that he wants to say," said Bradley, who invited Bauman to address the convention. "He is a very bright person and a very effective advocate. He's got a lot to say, and I think he will say it forcefully and very unapologetically."
Bradley resigned as president of the Legal Services Corporation last year after revealing publicly that he was a homosexual.
Bauman, who lives in Easton, Md., the heart of the conservative Eastern Shore constituency he represented in Congress and in the Maryland General Assembly during a political career that spanned nearly 20 years, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Bauman's decision to address the lawyers' group appears to reflect his growing willingness to take public stands on homosexual issues. Last year he began speaking candidly about his painful lifelong struggle to repress his "personal tendencies."
His increasing openness followed an abortive attempt to run for a fourth term in Congress. Despite months of readying a reentry into politics, Bauman abandoned his campaign after alleging that his opponent planned to use his personal life as a smear tactic against him.
Former Rep. John Burton of California, a friend of Bauman's in the House of Representatives despite their conflicting political views, said yesterday that Bauman is considering moving to California "because he wants to be able to be a human being and live his life."
"He's been 86'd back there in Maryland by all the people he's been helping all his life," Burton said.
Burton said he talked to Bauman about a possible move to California several months ago. He said he had contacted several conservative gay businesses in the San Francisco area on Bauman's behalf, and that the city has "many conservative business people who could use Bob's brains and talents."
But Burton said he doubted that Bauman, who lost a bid for reelection in Maryland after the disclosures, could begin a new political career there, however, because "he is a little too conservative for the area."
"I told him he ought to think about moving to Orange County. Just because someone is gay doesn't mean they're liberal," Burton said. "I know that from this town."