Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Last Saturday rising Republican star Sheriff Paul Babeu, an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration's border and immigration policy currently running for Congress, "came out" as a gay man at a press conference he had called to address recent and sensational claims that he used the authority of his office to intimidate an immigrant with whom he had a relationship to keep the affair under wraps.   

The almost immediate reaction of most in the politosphere re: the revelations of Babeu's sexual orientation is that it would bring an abrupt end to the political aspirations of this rising star in the Republican Party, who as a result has been forced to resign his position as State Co-Chair of the Arizona Romney Campaign.  Indeed, many from the conservative-leaning and largely rural Arizona district which he seeks to represent, including many well connected political observers in that State and around the nation, have speculated he is all but doomed in his campaign to represent the newly-formed 4th Congressional district in Arizona.

And we admit, portions of the recent claims are extremely troubling, not just for the stark juxtaposition of the revelations with the squeaky-clean "All American" image he has successfully portrayed, but even more saliently the allegations that Mr. Babeu may have used his position as Pinal County Sheriff to threaten his allegedly illegal immigrant lover with deportation if he did not agree to remain quiet about their affair so as not to damage Babeu's chances to win a seat in Congress.  Such claims, if substantiated, would not only raise serious questions of abuse of power, but would seemingly open Babeu, who has made a name for himself with a "get tough on illegal immigration" persona that he has developed in extremely public disagreements with Administration immigration and border enforcement policy, to charges of hypocrisy in his area of strongest political appeal to Arizona voters.  

While Sheriff Paul's "guilt" or innocence to the most serious charges that have been made against him are not at issue hereindeed, the right to be innocent until proven guilty is a fundamental and sacrosanct value we champion here at the ACLP and we certainly are firmly on the "conservative" side in the raging national debate on such social issues as the enshrinement in federal law of "gay marriage," in this case however we see a much more basic point.

Should an otherwise qualified candidate for Congress be prevented and/or excluded from a seemingly otherwise successful run for Congress due solely to his sexual orientation? Of course, the question presupposes that Sheriff is, in fact, innocent of the "intimidation" or "abuse of power" allegations that have surfaced in conjunction with his outinga factor that could obviously changebut nevertheless, the question, at least at this point, remains. So what?

Does it really matter the sexual practices of a candidate in their private life, as long as they are able to adequately perform their duties as an elected official? Or, put another way, are we unconsciously limiting the pool of qualified candidates to elected positions due to the "gotcha" style of politics that seems to pervade our political system nowdays?

Of course, the fact that Sheriff Paul felt constrained to attempt to keep the affair silent by having his attorney contact his alleged lover speaks volumes about a related issue, certainly a legitimate question, to wit: Is a person in position of authority more susceptible to blackmail and/or "pressure" to not faithfully exercise their duties if they are homosexual? (a particularly important question in the areas of military intelligence, politics or national security.)  

And if so, is this due to irrational "homophobia" in society, and thus an argument in favor of more tolerant "mainstreaming" of homosexuals into all positions of service in the military and society overall in order to force more "acceptance" of "alternate" lifestyles and an according drop in "stigma," (as the Obama Administration seems to think), or, rather, erring on the side of caution, should homosexuals be banned from certain positions to protect them (and society) from the corrupting effects of susceptibility to blackmail that fear of involuntary "outing" necessarily involves? Tough questions, and all ones we are not going to tackle today, (as if we even could settle such thorny issues that easy!)

But taken simply on an individual basis, in the contexts of Sheriff Paul's case before us, we find certain implications for the "big tent" party of Lincoln, as well as society, disturbing and worthy of address.

Of course, the ultimate determination on Sheriff Paul, at least politically, will be up to the voters to decide. One could certainly make the argument that by deceiving voters as to this salient and core feature of who he is, he doesn't now deserve the benefit of the doubt to be elected, (or re-elected for that matter). And one would certainly be entitled to that belief.

However, that still leaves unaddressed the question of why, in this particular case, (other than the above-mentioned intimidation claims), Sheriff Babeu's orientation should really matter at all?

On Babeu's watch, spending and waste in his department has been reduced, even as effectiveness and morale has gone up. Drug and illegal-immigrant interdiction have grown markedly more effective, and he has proven courageous and effective in addressing real public-safety issues of the people whom he serves in the rugged area near the border of Mexico in which he works on a daily basis.

Indeed, there is no one who can claim, at least with a straight face, that Paul has not been an effective leader and public servant as Sheriff of Pinal County for the years he has headed that law enforcement agency, (indeed, he has been selected multiple years in a row by his peers to head the Arizona Sheriff's Association).

And politics aside, he has certainly been an effective voice for better drug and border enforcement, an important issue for large swaths of the electorateand indeed, arguably to the safety of Arizona and the Nationeven if agreement on the importance of this from a public policy and political standpoint is in dispute.

So again, assuming the allegations of abuse of power and intimidation are not substantiated, and assuming one agrees with Mr. Babeu's public policy prescriptions for border issues, why should this former military man who has served with distinction in every position he has ever held be excluded from consideration for a seat in Congress based solely on his sexual orientation? Or, put another way, is a man's (or women's for that matter) sexual orientation sufficient cause to end their career?  Indeed, the simple answer is, in fairness, it shouldn't be.  Now I know what some of my conservative brethren are thinking here.  Has the man lost his moral marbles?  But before I answer that question, (or you do!), it behooves us to examine a few other matters first.   

I'm sure most Americans would agree that it is a basic axiom of our individually merit-based society that one should only be prevented from securing a position, any position, due to their not being suited to the position by their training and/or an inability to carry out the duties which that job entails.

Indeed, it is a principle that has been fundamental to the American dream, and dear to political conservatives in particular, from almost the foundation of the Republic in spirit, if not in deed.

It is also a core part of the bulwark preventing our nation from dividing (degenerating?) into separate "special interest" groups which the nation's founding fathers would have called the danger of "faction" in America, (Federalist Nos. 10), and constituted in their minds a real and present danger to the success of our national experiment in liberty.  

Indeed, this principle is the only rational basis which one can employ even handedly to prevent discrimination of all kinds from wreaking the kind of social unrest and injustice that otherwise would rage unchecked much like the "class warfare" rhetoric of today engenders on a parallel plane. And it is a road we do not, as a nation, want to go down.

Indeed, if sexual orientationnote I say "orientation," not sexual conductt becomes a "legitimate" grounds upon which to fire or promote, it opens a can of worms that has no end.

Similar to that invidious distinction of race, when governmental policy favors one race over another, it guarantees future discrimination and injustice in a most destabilizing way, as those who "merit" the privilege of special preference and protection from government today may be the exact opposite "group" who claims it tomorrow, (with the only distinction being which societal "group" can wrest control of the levers of popularly elected government from their former "oppressors"). It doesn't take much to imagine the destructive effect this could have to a representative democracy in which all are supposed to be treated "equal" in the eyes of the law. (Indeed, the avoidance of such mischief was a chief concern the Founders sought when they "built in" so many "checks and balances" into the our Republic's primary law, the U.S. Constitution).

So back to Sheriff Babeu. 

 In light of such principles, and the danger to our Republic that abandoning them in one case however shocking the specifics of an individual case may be to us personally holds for the our national good, we believe it behooves us to 1) Resist the temptation to rush to judgment, and 2) Unashamedly pronounce that as Americans dedicated to the Rule of Law, precluding consideration of an otherwise and obviously qualified candidate for public office based solely on his sexual orientation is anathema to core principles of law and fairness our government is founded on and ought to be vehemently opposed by all persons of good will.

So in conclusion we say, let the Arizona election proceed, and let the voters decide... but let them do so not based upon such an extremely personal matter of Sheriff Babeu's as has been exposed of late. Rather, let it be on the public policies, governmental preferences and performance Mr. Babeu has exhibited as a public servant of the people of Pinal county, Arizona. Fairness, as well as sound public policy considerations, demand no less. Jp

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