There’s a piece currently posted at Politico about a Republican Sheriff and Congressional Candidate in Arizona who allegedly threatened his gay lover with deportation if he went public and exposed their relationship. It’s more significant than the run-of-the-mill closeted Republican gay story, because Paul Babeu is a prominent enough Republican that Mitt Romney’s campaign put out a release quoting Romney saying it was an “honor to have the support of Sheriff Babeu” and announcing that he had been named an Arizona co-chair of Romney’s campaign.
If you read the Politico piece, you’ll learn about text messages and gay.com, photos and the alleged threat to Babeu’s lover, identified only as “Jose.” What you won’t learn, though, is that Babeu is a Republican. And you won’t learn that he has an official and prominent position in Romney’s campaign.
Let’s grant an assumption of good will to the writer of the piece, Dave Catanese. It’s odd that he would write that “Rep. Paul Gosar, the freshman who Babeu is challenging for his seat, offered no comment through a spokeswoman,” and not think to mention Babeu is challenging Gosar in a primary and not a general election. But the piece was posted at 2:25 AM, so let’s grant Catanese an assumption of no ill-intent, that it was really late, and that he didn’t realize the omission.
But if we accept that it was simply an unintentional oversight by Catanese, that still leaves Politico’s editors on the hook for an egregious case of irresponsible editing. How the hell could an editor read that piece–and it’s now been posted for about 12 hours–and not notice that it doesn’t mention that Babeu is a Republican? It’s almost ALWAYS relevant that the politician who’s been hiding his gay affair is a Republican. (And other than former New Jersey governor Jim McGreavy, has there been a Democratic gay scandal in the last ten years or so?) Why is it relevant? Because almost every single Republican running for federal office and most running in state politics espouse rabidly anti-gay policies, and many use hateful anti-gay rhetoric. How could this almost cliche connection between a closeted politician and being a Republican not occur to the people involved in writing and editing this piece?
The sooner American politics is rid of closeted gay men espousing or at least abetting rabidly anti-gay politics and policies, the sooner we’ll stop denying gays and lesbians the full rights of all citizens. That process will be accelerated by further reinforcing the demonstrable pattern of most of the country’s closeted politicians being members of the party that’s overwhelmingly anti-gay. It’s not the mandate of Politico to advance that political aim, but it’s harder to fully expel from public life the self-hating closeted homosexuals when media sources like Politico fail to note when the central figure of a gay sex scandal is a Republican.
One last thing: while we’re implying that Babeu is a self-hating homosexual–at minimum he’s not a self-respecting gay man–we should also note that he’s a rabidly anti-immigration politician who was allegedly in a sexual relationship with an illegal immigrant. There’s probably a degree of self-loathing in that fact. And there’s definitely exploitation, which shows that this Babeu character is a morally reprehensible asshole. And he’s not just any morally reprehensible asshole, he’s a morally reprehensible asshole whose support the son of Mexican-born George Romney was honored to receive.
It’s still on the campaign’s website, but I suspect this won’t be visible much longer: