Arizona Sheriff Babeu Speaks Out
Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu is a rising star in conservative politics. Chosen "Sheriff of the Year" by the National Sheriff's Association in 2011, Babeu has gained prominence for his work securing the border and reforming law enforcement in Pinal County.
A fellow Iraq War veteran, Babeu served for over 20 years in the Army National Guard. In his race for Arizona's 4th Congressional District, Babeu has won the support of leading Republicans including Senator John McCain, and was warmly welcomed at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year.
In short, Sheriff Babeu is a successful conservative Republican. He is also gay.
Some may see that as contradictory, but Log Cabin Republicans are proud to represent the more than twenty-five percent of gay and lesbian Americans who self-identify and regularly vote as Republicans.
We stand for the principle that a person's sexual orientation does not dictate his or her politics any more than it should limit their ability to excel in the workplace or exercise the freedom to marry. We believe there is nothing about being gay that would make anybody prefer higher taxes, oversized government or an apologetic foreign policy. Log Cabin Republicans are not impressed by pandering Democratic politicians who claim to support equality during election years but can't move bills out of committee when they have the majority, and we refuse to believe the liberal lie that all Republicans are antigay.
After over thirty years of working to build a stronger, more inclusive GOP, Log Cabin Republicans know that only by speaking out as conservatives and representing the true diversity of the gay community will we be able to achieve the liberty that is promised to us by the United States Constitution.
Liberals don't have to understand it, and they don't have to like it, but the world does have to accept it: gay people can be conservative, and there are many more like Sheriff Paul Babeu in our ranks.
And that's a good thing. Log Cabin Republicans are unique in that the arguments we make in favor of freedom for gay and lesbian Americans are distinctly conservative. In his short time in the public eye as a gay man, Paul Babeu is already making the case for equality in a way that resonates with Republicans. He has worn this nation's uniform proudly and stands by his oaths to defend the Constitution, a living, breathing rebuke to those who hope for the return of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
His success as the Pinal County sheriff, cutting budgets and improving results, demonstrates what America stands to lose to employment discrimination and the value of judging a man solely on his merits. As to the true hot-button issue of marriage, Babeu makes the case for equality in a way that embraces, rather than undercuts, religious liberty. As a conservative, he has credibility to remind Americans that while there are faiths that condemn same-sex marriage, there are also many churches, synagogues and other houses of worship in this nation that are eager to celebrate such unions, and our government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers between committed, loving couples who want to take responsibility for each other.
Our community's goals today are fundamentally conservative, and it will take conservative voices, like Paul Babeu's, to achieve them.
Sheriff Babeu follows in the tradition of many conservatives who have stood up in communities, town halls, and even in Congress for what's right for the American people. Following in the mold of the late Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), Arizonans have long supported the best candidate for office, regardless of their sexual orientation, including Log Cabin member and longtime Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ).
Finally, watching the press conference in which Sheriff Babeu publicly came out, the words of his supporters are striking. Over and over, residents from one of the reddest parts of Arizona stood up to say that Babeu's sexual orientation didn't matter. What mattered to these conservative Americans was that he was a professional and a leader who had earned their loyalty and respect. They know this man, and many have known for a long time that he was gay.
They don't care, and now that he's out, Babeu's supporters have become his allies, and allies to all of us who hope for a day that a person's sexual orientation is irrelevant when compared to the content of his or her character. Simply by being who we are - unapologetically pro-gay and unapologetically conservative - Log Cabin Republicans like Sheriff Babeu are helping to secure the freedoms America stands for, and that's something we can all be proud of.
Log Cabin Republicans is proud to announce that Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper will be authoring a regular column for Washington Times Communities. Dedicated to spreading the word that "Freedom Means Freedom for Everyone," Politics and Pride will offer arguments in favor of a Republican Party that stands stronger by being more inclusive and reaching out to all Americans.