Dennis Gilman's raw footage of Babeu's Saturday presser
In addition to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's admission to being a gay man during a Saturday press conference, wherein he denied allegations published in my colleague Monica Alonzo's expose concerning deportation threats against his ex-lover, Babeu made progressive statements on two issues of great import both to the LGBT community and to social conservatives.
Specifically, he supported both gays in the military and gay marriage, in response to a line of questioning kicked off by Phoenix videographer Dennis Gilman.
In regard to gays in the military, Babeu, who served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Arizona Army National Guard, spoke passionately about the issue.
"I believe that any American who wants to serve their country," he said, "and put on the uniform of our country to protect our liberties and freedoms, they should be allowed to do so."
On gay marriage, which is banned by the Arizona Constitution, Babeu tried to cop a "Ron Paul" line that it is "a states rights issue," while also stating that, "legal contracts absolutely should be allowed for anybody."
Pressed on the subject, Babeu characterized any attempts to limit the rights of gays to marry as un-American.
"If states prohibit that, that's the issues for the states," he replied. "I can be a supporter and get out there and articulate as we progress as a culture and as a society that there should be individual liberties and there should be individual freedoms...[for] any other person to define someone else's relationship and to say that it's not OK, that is not who we are as Americans."
However, it seems unlikely that Babeu would have taken the same stand while running for Congress in the conservatively-drawn CD 4, if Alonzo's story had never been published.
Babeu denied that threats had been made against his former boyfriend Jose, yet text messages obtained by Alonzo tell another story. And, significantly, Babeu has not denied that the text messages are legit.
"You can never have [a] business after this," Babeu texted Jose at one point. "And you will harm me and many others in [the] process...including yourself and your family."
In another text, Babeu wrote: "You have crossed the line. Better get an attorney. Your brother will also be contacted."
Congressman Paul Gosar, who is running in the CD 4 race, slammed Babeu for what he called "an abuse of power."
There are federal statutes pertaining to a law enforcement or government official depriving someone of his or her constitutional rights "under the color of law," or of conspiring to "injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States."
But such allegations against Babeu would have to be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice, which has dragged its feet for years in its investigation of abuse of power allegations against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
State Senator Ron Gould, who is vying for the GOP nomination in CD 4 against Babeu and Gosar, hit upon one tack sure to draw blood.
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Indeed, though Babeu depicted the naked and near-naked photos of himself revealed by New Times as being "personal and private" between two consenting adults, Babeu had posted a shirtless photo of himself on the gay hookup site adam4adam.com, along with intimate details about his sexual preferences and his anatomy.
Babeu's sexuality aside, these photos, and his stand on gay rights, will be his downfall in conservative CD 4. An independent expenditure committee easily could do a mass-mailing using just one image, and Babeu will be in single digits, if that.
In general, the Republican party is extremely homophobic. And Arizona Republicans are hardly hospitable toward openly gay GOPers.
Which is likely why Babeu wanted to remain closeted on the campaign trail, despite his risky personal behavior. This led to the threats Jose says he received. And the text messages between Babeu and Jose back Jose up.