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Outed Arizona sheriff ‘110 percent in the race for Congress’

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Monday, February 27, 2012

The recently outed gay sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., says if he’s elected to Congress he’ll support pro-LGBT initiatives and help change perceptions lawmakers have about gay people.

In an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade, Paul Babeu, who’s running to represent Arizona’s 4th congressional district in Congress, said his election would be “very impactful and helpful” in changing “the views, perceptions, beliefs about who we are.”

Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia

Paul Babeu

“If they know me first as a sheriff, as a police officer who has responded to, literally, thousands and thousands of emergencies, has fought criminals, has actually saved lives and served our country in the military for 20-plus years … and when regular people see those accomplishments and those results first, then understand at a later point that I am gay, it changes people’s beliefs and perceptions and understanding,” Babeu said.

The Blade interview marks the first time Babeu has spoken to the LGBT media since he came out during a news conference earlier this month.

Babeu, elected as sheriff in 2008 and considered a rising star in the Republican Party, gained national attention after the Phoenix New Times on Feb. 17 published allegations that he threatened to deport his ex-boyfriend, Jose Orozco, a Mexican national and campaign volunteer, after their relationship soured. The article included semi-nude photos he reportedly sent to Orozco and a picture from what appears to be his adam4adam profile.

In a news conference following the article’s publication, Babeu denied the allegations against him save for one: he publicly acknowledged that he’s gay. Babeu has since accused Orozco of identity theft, which Orozco’s attorney has denied.

Asked to comment on Babeu’s assertions about the situation, A.D. Horan, Orozco’s lawyer, told the Blade, “Jose denies the allegations and intends to cooperate fully with the state’s investigation.” Horan declined to comment further.

Although his race to win the Republican nomination will likely be more difficult while facing these allegations, Babeu told the Blade he’s “110 percent in the race for Congress.”

“It will be a harder fight, and I never turn from a fight,” Babeu said. “I shall stand and work harder than I ever have in my life on my accomplishments, on my service.”

Babeu said he believes voters in his district will accept him because “we’re different as Americans” and “we’re exceptional people.”

“When though we’ve overcome many hurdles and obstacles, and none of us are perfect, in America, we define ourselves by the value we add in our communities,” Babeu said. “We see our differences as a strength, whether it’s our religion, our ethnicity, our gender, our [sexual] orientation. Those are the same liberties and freedoms I personally defend and fought for, and that’s why I continue to stand up and fight now.”

Babeu said he’s “not ashamed” of his sexual orientation, but added, “I’m just not going to define myself solely on the fact that I am gay.”

If elected to Congress, Babeu said he’ll be “a strong fiscal conservative” and advocate for “spending within our means,” but also will support pro-LGBT legislative measures.

Among the initiatives Babeu said he supports is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, noting he’s “in favor of eliminating any discrimination” and adding that workers should be evaluated solely on their performance and merit.

Asked whether he supports the idea of President Obama issuing an executive order requiring federal contractors to have LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies, Babeu said he’d have to “look into it” but would support such a directive “on the surface.”

Additionally, Babeu said he would “certainly vote to repeal” the Defense of Marriage Act and said he thinks the anti-gay law exceeds the authority of the government under the U.S. Constitution.

“I’m a strict constitutionalist as well,” Babeu said. “As a strict constitutionalist, this has no business at the federal level. This should go to the states.”

The sheriff said his opposition to DOMA is in line with his belief that the government shouldn’t tell religions which individuals they can or can’t marry.

Continue reading at the Washington Blade

© Washington Blade. Reprinted by permission.

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20 more reader comments:

  1. we deserve better role modles in congress, he is not one of them

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:00pm
  2. I do not want this guy, who is trying to get his ex-boyfriend deported because he’s sore, representing me. I’m sorry, but we can do better. Do not vote for him.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:01pm
  3. Pro-LGBT initiatives INCLUDE undocumented LGBTQ folx. end of story.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:03pm
  4. I would NOT vote for him!!!

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:11pm
  5. This guy is a scum who threatened blackmailed his b/f with deportation, using his authority ti intimidate. and the only reason he is suddenly soooo pro GLBTQ is because he got caught. he does not deserve sympathy or support rather he ought to be thrown in jail and have the keys thrown away because he is gonna use his position of power again and again. he is not an ally!

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:11pm
  6. Ohhh really now? Fake Gay People.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:19pm
  7. The damage this guy has done cannot be fixed in any way. Just apologize and go away.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:19pm
  8. He’s a creepy asshole! I don’t want him to be the poster boy for gay community especially in politics. This guy is a fucking creeper! I have yet to hear anyone mention that he lived with and had a relationship a 17 year old student of the boarding school he was in charge of. I don’t care if the kid was of consenting age or not. You never have a sexual relationship with one of your students! Yeah he’s a greaaat role model -_-.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:19pm
  9. Elijah Steger We did publish a related story earlier today regarding Babeu’s living arrangement with his 17 year old student.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:22pm
  10. He’s no Jim Kolbe, that’s for sure.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:22pm
  11. Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:22pm
  12. I know you guys published an article about it and it was a great article. I was talking about the comments though. Everyone seemed to be more focused on the deportation thing when both events are equally important.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:25pm
  13. If he gets elected, I know who I’m putting in my 2013 death pool.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:26pm
  14. Nope to vedictive

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:32pm
  15. Ever hear the phrase “too little too late!”? He could have really helped with the DADT issue and to my knowledge, he didn’t.

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:48pm
  16. bullying your partner or ex partner to keeping you inthe closet…. or shacking up with a teen you are supposed to be protecting.. sorry – you are scum.. and what is worse – you make our community look bad – you are nothing but santorums play toy

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 10:24pm
  17. Ohhhh Noooo. . .this guy is NOT good for gays. He’ll kick in every hater’s worst fears — and mine too!

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 10:30pm
  18. As Pinal County Sheriff, his responsibilities were different than they would be as a Congressman. As an Arizona voter who lives less than 10 miles outside of his District (and know plenty of people within his district), I am very interested in his race. I would look more at the fact that he ignored the law to date someone worthy of deportation (the article leads me to believe that the ex-boyfriend broke the law, leading to deportation proceedings), than the “blackmail” argument. If he loses the race for Congress, I’d sure as Hell vote him Maricopa County Sheriff over the scumbag we have now!

    Posted on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 11:40pm
  19. He’s beautiful, a powerful warrior and absolutely a pleasure as a beautiul gay man. Besides, what does his sexuality hjave to do with any of this? This was a political attack, pure and simple. The timing is blatant. I think he’s gorgeous in every way.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 2:54am
  20. ill believe it when i see it

    Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 1:34pm