There’s so much storm, drama and fascination around the Paul Babeu story. And we still don’t know the answer to the one genuinely significant question in it: whether Babeu used the de facto powers of his office to intimidate an estranged ex-lover.
But one thing shines through to me as perhaps the most significant part of the whole media storm: You have a hard-right Republican, with intense political ambitions outed as gay and accused of serious abuse of office. He vigorously denies the charges but says, Yeah, I’m gay. And by the way, I support gay marriage and I also think that gays should be able to serve openly in the US military.
Given what was contained in the original story, it’s not like Babeu had a great deal of choice about disclosing his sexuality. But then that hasn’t stopped others from trying. No comical denials (a la Larry Craig), no slinking off into a shamed obscurity (a la too many sad stories to mention). Just, yeah, I’m gay. And I’m still running for office.
Regardless of whether Babeu is guilty of the alleged infraction, this strikes me as a very positive thing and part of the bending arc of equality that’s been changing marriage laws around the country, snuffing out ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and simply making the politics of homosexuality on the national stage something dramatically different from what it was less than a decade ago.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.