Interestingly enough, Paul Babeu just doesn’t seem to be facing the backlash you’d expect after coming out as gay and being accused of threatening a former lover with deportation if he revealed their relationship. While he’s stepped down from his position on the Romney campaign to focus on the allegations, he hasn’t withdrawn from the Arizona GOP congressional race.
And, surprisingly, he isn’t fairing as badly as you’d expect, despite coming out in favor of gay marriage and gays in the military. In an article published yesterday in the Arizona Daily Star, supporters gave supportive statements.
Bill Halpin, a former Air Force pilot and local tea party activist, told the paper, “I care less. I just care less. Don’t preach it on me. Don’t push it on me and, by golly, I respect your rights.”
The president of the group, Mona Patton, said, “I’m a Christian, but who am I to make a judgment about somebody else? I still believe in him. I still back him.” She elaborated, “I have many, many, many friends in my life that are gay … and I don’t have issues with it. But, you know, it’s a hurdle for a lot of people, and it’s, I think, a shame. … I think he’s going to have a hard row to hoe.”
The support online has been fairly positive as well, with comments on Babeu’s Facebook page calling him “the first gay man I can agree with.” A few people have expressed disappointment about the revelations. However, the mood seems to be more one of confusion, rather than outright anger or hatred.
Babeu reports receiving $17,000 in political donations since coming out in a press conference on February 18th. Is it a sign of progress that Babeu’s supporters are standing behind him, even though he’s now openly gay? Or is there something more troubling about the support he’s managed to maintain? After all, it’s one thing to be accepting and open-minded about homosexuality. It’s another thing entirely to sweep accusations of systemic abuse of power under the rug.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore