Since the early 1980s, the right wing of American politics has become increasingly indistinguishable from the Christian Right, with powerful reverends and fundamentalists forming the core of the GOP’s base. This shift has led to the election of a slew of ultra-conservative politicians who espouse socially conservative, and sometimes anti-LGBT, rhetoric. But, in fact, several of these moral crusaders have been exposed as anything but. Here are ten hypocritical politicians who really shouldn’t have cast stones…
10. Richard Curtis
One-time GOP Washington state representative Richard Curtis was renowned for his socially conservative voting record. And the mustached lawmaker earned those dubious stripes by repeatedly voting against same-sex and anti-discrimination legislation.
Yet in 2007 Curtis’ traditional façade came tumbling down around him, when it was sensationally revealed that he had solicited sex from a 26-year-old gay porn star. At first Curtis denied it all, and then he cried extortion. But in the end the disgraced politician was forced to make an embarrassed resignation, not to mention a public apology to his wife and kids.
9. Bruce Barclay
When Bruce Barclay was elected chairman of the Cumberland County, Pennsylvania commissioners, the Republican appeared to be a dyed-in-the-wool conservative with old-fashioned values. His assertion that homosexuality was “a sin of nature,” then, came as no surprise and seemed to be a strong confirmation of his hard-right religious stance.
But Barclay was leading a double life – and an incredibly seedy one, too. And it all came out when the politician was charged with rape in 2008. Although the rape charge was dropped, a subsequent house search found that Barclay had secretly filmed himself having sex with male prostitutes without their consent to appear on tape. For his misdemeanors, Barclay had his every movement electronically tracked for nine months. He also received eight years’ probation, had to complete 200 hours of community service and was penalized $18,000.
8. Roy Ashburn
Former Californian state senator Roy Ashburn was notable for his anti-LGBT voting record. The staunch Republican refused to acknowledge same-sex marriages, voted “no” to anti-discrimination legislation and even objected to a bill celebrating the life of famous gay rights campaigner Harvey Milk.
But Ashburn’s public stance did not match that of his private life. On March 3, 2010 the politician was apprehended by police in Sacramento after he appeared to be driving erratically – an event that led to the revelation that the father-of-four had attended a LGBT bar that same evening. Ashburn eventually came clean about his sexuality, and he claimed that his anti-gay voting record had merely represented his constituents’ wishes.
7. Larry Craig
When Larry Craig was the senator of Idaho, he was lauded by notoriously conservative groups the Family Research Council and the American Family Association for his impeccable anti-LGBT voting history and Christian Right credentials. What’s more, Craig was even key in establishing the US military’s controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. All in all, he appeared to be the archetypal social conservative.
But appearances – and anti-gay voting records – can be deceptive. That’s because in 2007 Craig was revealed to have made some rather flirtatious moves on an undercover police officer in the public bathroom of a well-known pick-up-spot. Several other men then crawled out of the woodwork to allege sexual encounters with the senator, too. And his reputation took a further battering in 2014 when he had to repay $242,000 worth of misused campaign money to the Treasury – money he had used to fund his legal costs.
6. Bob Allen
Bob Allen was once a very influential Republican who was a member of Florida’s state legislature and the right-hand man of Senator John McCain. Within the Sunshine State, though, Allen was loathed by gay rights advocates. The politician was openly anti-LGBT rights and even supported a bill that aimed to increase the punishment for “unnatural and lascivious acts” performed in public.
In 2007, however, the GOP representative was arrested for soliciting the very kind of act he had helped define as lascivious. It came to light that the hypocritical politician was hanging around a public park lavatory propositioning strangers with the promise of oral sex; unfortunately for Allen, one of the men he offered his services to happened to be an undercover cop. The congressman was promptly sacked by the GOP, and although he proclaimed his innocence, the courts declared him guilty.
5. Mark Foley
GOP congressman Mark Foley represented Florida for 11 years, and throughout this period cultivated a reputation as a staunch traditionalist when it came to same-sex marriage and gay rights. So much so, in fact, that he received strong backing from the staunchly right-wing Christian Coalition.
Yet Foley was forced to resign in 2006 amid a highly public scandal that the Christian Right certainly wouldn’t have approved of. It came to light that the Republican had been sending a host of lewd messages to underage male congressional pages; somewhat ironically, Foley had previously served as chairman of the House Caucus on the issue of exploited children. After standing down from his position, Foley came out as gay and sought help for an alcohol problem. Furthermore, in another twist, it later emerged that he himself had been abused as a boy.
4. Phillip Hinkle
Republican Phillip Hinkle represented Indiana from 2000 to 2012; during his 12 years in Congress, moreover, the state’s conservative voters could always rely upon Hinkle to vote against the LGBT community. Indeed, in 2011 he even gave the thumbs up to a proposed constitutional amendment that strictly defined a marriage as a union between a man and a woman only.
In 2011 Hinkle’s standing with the Christian Right irreparably slipped when he became embroiled in a gay sex scandal. The Republican had answered the Craigslist call of an 18-year-old man who was in the market for a “sugga daddy.” The pair’s secret rendezvous, however, didn’t go as planned, and when the young man got cold feet a panicked Hinkle tried to buy his silence. Furthermore, even after the scandal broke, Hinkle was adamant that he was not a homosexual, and he offered no resignation from office. The thoroughly backed-up series of events, though, speak for themselves.
3. Randy Boehning
As a state representative for North Dakota since 2002, Republican Randy Boehning has appealed to the region’s socially conservative Christian voters. And Boehning’s traditionalist credentials were further bolstered in April 2015 when he opposed a bill devised to defend LGBT rights in the community and workplace.
That same month, however, Boehning’s legislative life was found to be in stark contrast to his private life. Indeed, he himself was revealed to be a closet bisexual after a local man identified him as “Top Man” – a person he had been having intimate interactions with on Grindr. Boehning admitted his bisexuality but nevertheless claimed that he had been the victim of a revenge campaign in retaliation for his earlier anti-LGBT position.
2. Roberto Arango
When Roberto Arango served as Senator for Puerto Rico from 2005 to 2011, he was notable for his work in opposing the legalization of same-sex civil unions. In fact in 2004, the anti-gay legislator even taunted a rival candidate for the San Juan mayoralty through inferring that he was a homosexual.
And yet even while he was canvassing the conservative religious vote, Arango was living a secret life as a closeted gay man. At least, his sexuality remained a secret until 2011, when the media got hold of explicit images that the politician had uploaded to Grindr. Arango was pressured into resignation, but it still took him a whole four years to come clean about his sexuality. At first, he even tried to say that he had snapped the images to keep track of his diet program.
1. James West
For nearly two decades James West was a fierce political opponent of equal rights for the LGBT community: firstly in the State senate for Washington and then later as mayor of Spokane. In fact, in 1986 West put his weight behind an undeniably prejudiced bill that would have stopped homosexuals from taking up employment in a number of educational institutions.
And yet in 2005 the staunchly conservative politician was completely busted in a Spokesman-Review sting. It was revealed that West had tried to secure a City Hall placement for an 18-year-old man he had met on a gay chat website. The “intern,” however, turned out to be an undercover agent, and West was removed from office. He died from cancer a year later.