If you're going to start talking about "family values," you'd better not be cheating on your wife.
That's the message Alabama state Rep. Patricia Todd delivered to her colleagues. "I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about 'family values' when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have," the Democrat, who's Alabama's only openly gay lawmaker, said on Facebook over the weekend, according to the TimesDaily. "I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet out."
She has reason to make good on the threat. Todd's post comes after numerous ignorant comments made by her fellow lawmakers after Friday's decision by a federal judge to overturn Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage. Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard blasted the ruling as an "outrageous" abuse of judicial power: "The legislature will encourage a vigorous appeals process, and we will continue defending the Christian conservative values that make Alabama a special place to live." For the sake of Hubbard's reputation as a pro-family conservative, he has hopefully been a better husband than a legislator: He was indicted on 23 felony corruption charges in October 2014.
"It is pretty well-known that we have people in Montgomery who are or have had affairs," Todd told the TimesDaily. "I just want them to be careful what they're saying, some of it might come back to stick on them."
Todd, who was the first openly gay elected official in Alabama history and has been married to her wife Jennifer since 2013, said the remarks from her fellow lawmakers have been hurtful, "But I know I'm on the side that is going to win and I'm sorry they're so ignorant."
Todd's tactics sound rough, but she's exposing hypocrisy. Although the threat may not yield a mass conversion of minds and hearts to support marriage equality in Alabama, Todd's threat has focused attention on the victims of hypocrites in positions of power. It's not new that supposedly "pro-family" (read: anti-gay) politicians have been extolling the purity of matrimony by day and engaging in affairs with staffers, strangers and sex workers.
It's a noble tradition of mendacity that has reached the highest offices: In the '90s, Newt Gingrich, then speaker of the House, was engaged in his (second) affair at the same time he was mounting impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. It's almost impossible to hyperlink to every anti-gay "family-values conservative" who was later found to have cheated on their spouse with members of either sex (but let's try anyway).
Todd told the Huffington Post she's prepared for what happens next.
"If certain people come out and start espousing this rhetoric about family values, then I will say, 'Let's talk about family values, because here's what I heard,'" she said. "I don't have direct knowledge because obviously I'm not the other person involved in the affair. But one thing you would never hear about me is that I ever cheated on a partner or had an affair."