We are fast approaching the point where it will only be news if an outspoken Christian conservative politician isn’t cheating on his or her spouse. The extramarital humping from the self-righteous Bible-thumping is becoming cliché with the scandals happening almost by the day.
The latest lying Lothario is Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) who announced that he would resign from Congress because he had an affair with a woman on his staff. Rep. Souder had received a zero on every single Human Rights Campaign scorecard since entering Congress in 1995. He has consistently voted against employment protections, hate crime laws, increases in HIV/AIDS funding and providing equality to same-sex couples.
Clearly, the state of the GOP Family Values fraud is such, that Republican leaders were probably relieved that Souder’s sinful shenanigans were with a woman – not an undercover cop in a bathroom stall (Sen. Larry Craig) or with male congressional pages (Rep. Mark Foley).
Like most sexual scandals, there was an element of tragic comedy. In November 2009, Souder’s mistress, Tracy Jackson, interviewed Souder for a video on abstinence.
“You’ve been a longtime advocate for abstinence education and in 2006 you had your staff conduct a report entitled ‘Abstinence and its Critics’ which discredits many claims purveyed by those who oppose abstinence education,” Jackson said as she introduced Souder.
Technically, there was no hypocrisy in this instance, because Souder believes in abstinence before marriage – and he was clearly married at the time he and Jackson put in a little overtime protecting the morals of taxpayers.
However, there was quite a bit of duplicity in Souder’s rabid and reactionary opposition to LGBT equality. For example, he opposed the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would give federal employees in gay relationships access to health benefits. In voting against the bill Souder told the Federal Times, “I am against taxpayer funding for these benefits because it is totally inconsistent with the belief that marriage should be one man and one woman.”
Social conservatives would do themselves a huge favor if they edited their marriage creed to, “one man, one woman and one mistress.” Although, it is doubtful even this amendment would sate their voracious sexual appetites. One just has to consider the outrageous behavior of Gov. Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford (R-S.C.) and Sen. John “I slept with my best friend’s wife” Ensign (R-NV) to realize that conservative politicians are as addicted to extramarital porking as they are in procuring big government pork.
The most predictable part of the salacious Souder scandal is his attempt to blame unnamed political opponents for exploiting his tryst.
“I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff,” Souder said. “In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon and twisted for political gain. I am resigning rather than put my family through a painful drawn out process.”
Souder is clearly confused. The only thing that was likely “twisted” was the bed sheet used during his extramarital affair. The congressman seems blithely unaware that it was opportunistic puritanical phonies – such as he – that are responsible for creating the toxic environment in Washington that he now ironically bemoans.
It was right wing ideologues looking to mine conservative churches for votes and money that made “protecting” the family a matter of United States policy. They launched a destructive culture war and divisive debate, even as they behaved like whores who fornicate. Yet, the money-grubbing morality machine soldiers on – blaming everyone and everything but the shallowness and emptiness of their wanton worldview.
A perfect example of deflecting blame came from The Liberty Counsel’s Matt Staver who suggested outside forces were out to get anti-gay researcher George Rekers, who got nabbed with a male hustler he met on Rentboy.com.
“I think that it’s the classic [tactic], ‘If you can’t destroy the message, you destroy the messenger,’ … and I think this is a personal attack (on Rekers) designed to cast aspersions on his character and reputation,” Staver said.
Is Staver suggesting that a gay organization or mischievous LGBT activist sent Rekers to RentBoy.com? Furthermore, isn’t the alleged rectitude and righteousness of these holier-than-thou messengers a key part of the moralistic message?
Miami Herald columnist Daniel Shoer Roth said it best this week when he wrote, “When these cases come to light, it is a victory for the public, because you open your eyes to the veiled nature of these two-faced individuals. And, hopefully, you will better appreciate those who are honest with themselves and others.”
Right wing activists and politicians have no one to blame for their troubles but themselves. People would not care one bit about their tawdry affairs if they had not made “family values” a central part of the affairs of state.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”