As an historic conference to try to find peace in the Middle East takes place near Washington DC, the blogosphere in America has been discussing a tabloid’s attempts to “out” the US Secretary of State.

While highbrow newspapers such as The New York Times have concentrated on Condoleezza Rice’s efforts to secure peace, the tabloid National Enquirer chose to speculate on her sexuality.

In an article entitled “Who’s Gay and Who’s Not” the paper reports that it is “an open secret” that Ms Rice is a lesbian.

It quotes a blog report that she was out when she worked source at provost of Stanford University in California.

The Enquirer story is not the first time such rumours have been aired.

A recent biography of Ms Rice, The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy, by Washington Post journalist Glenn Kessler, revealed that she owns a house with a close female friend, Randy Bean.

The Sunday Times carried a story on the rumours surrounding the most powerful woman in America yesterday, leading to renewed speculation and comment on the issue.

“Rice does not comment on her private life, and she is not an elected official, so her sexuality has never been a campaign issue,” reports The Sunday Times.

“But the gay community has long been troubled by her association with conservative Republicans opposed to gay marriage, and with evangelical Christians who regard homosexuality as a sin.”