Once again, a conservative, Republican politician has been outed as gay. Last week, the Phoenix New Times reported that Pinal County (AZ) Sheriff Paul Babeu had an affair with a Hispanic man identified only as “Jose”. According to Jose, he and Sheriff Babeu had been romantically involved for several years and, after the relationship ended, Jose claims that Babeu threatened him with deportation if he didn’t sign an agreement not to disclose their affair. To Babeu’s credit, he promptly convened a press conference where he admitted he was gay and to a long-term relationship with Jose, but denied threatening him with deportation. He also stepped down as Arizona co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign so he could “focus on the allegations against him”. This hasn’t been in the news much, unless you happen to live in Arizona where it actually is news. The only reason we’re not hearing about it is because the news media is so distracted by the insanity of the Republican primary race. But, I’m okay with that since I don’t see this as a scandal. If the allegations prove true, my opinion will change, but until then, I’m cool with it.
There are a lot of ways I could approach this story. I could talk about how Babeu’s political career is probably screwed because being a gay Republican is bad enough, but being a gay Republican in a state as red as Arizona is a death-blow. I could talk about the relief I’m sure the Romney people felt when he stepped down from the campaign since hot button socially conservative issues like this seem to make Willard itch. I could even go into Babeu’s affair with an immigrant given his vehement stance against illegal immigration. But, all of that is low-hanging fruit and just too damn easy to go after. Instead, I want to talk about the apparent glee that liberals display when a conservative Republican politician is outed as gay. That’s bad enough, but progressive Christians do it, too. I say this because I found out about Babeu through the Unfundamentalist Christians Facebook page. I’m not happy about this, because I really like the Unfundamentalist Christians group and it’s founder, John Shore, is who I want to be when I grow up. The thing is when we get all happy about another “Repugnican” getting their comeuppance in this way, two things are really happening:
- We are liberal, progressive Christians and, to me, being a Christian means we follow Christ; a man who told us to love our neighbors. Being orgasmically giddy at someone else’s misfortune isn’t loving your neighbor, it’s kind of the opposite.
- What kind of message are we sending to the LGBTQ community when being outed as gay is a scandal to be plastered all over the place?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against exposing hypocrisy or calling out discrimination. But, do we have to be so happy while we do it?