Who shopped the sheriff? His gay lover!

A RIGHT-WING Republican sheriff, who has been working his toned little butt off in support of Mormon homophobe Mitt Romney’s bid to become US President, has been outed as gay.

According to this report, Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu, of Pinal County, built a reputation as a rising, conservative star by taking a hardline stance against illegal immigration, attacking the Obama administration and appearing alongside Sen John McCain in a 2010 re-election ad.

A photo of sheriff Babeu posted on a gay website

But, last Saturday, Babeu’s conservative image took nose-dive as he was forced to confirm publicly that he is gay and was involved in a relationship with a Mexican immigrant who claims the sheriff threatened to have him deported if he revealed their relationship.

The revelation prompted Babeu to call Romney’s staff to say he would step down from his post as state campaign co-chair.

Babeu denies any wrongdoing, and has vowed to continue his battle for a Republican congressionalal nomination in an extremely conservative rural congressional district. He recognises he is fighting an uphill battle, especially in a state where “family values” are staunchly upheld by a large evangelical Christian and Mormon population

At a lengthy press conference, Babeu said he hoped voters would stick by him, but his opponents think that’s unlikely. Arizona Sen Ron Gould says Babeu is sure to lose major support among the family-values voters who oppose gay marriage.

Babeu previously avoided a public stance on gay rights, but came out in favour of them on Saturday.

I can be a supporter and get out there and help articulate as we progress as a culture and a society, that there should be individual liberties and there should be individual freedoms. For any other person to define somebody else’s relationship and say it not OK, that is not who we are as Americans.

Some political observers think Babeu’s career could be over. Long-time Arizona Republican political consultant Sean Noble said:

There is no question that his budding congressional campaign is over. Because it is a Republican primary in a conservative district, it’s likely that the thing that hurts him the most is that he was in a gay relationship.

Babeu’s acknowledgment that he is gay came after a story in the Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly magazine that quoted a former lover, Jose, as saying Babeu threatened his immigration status if he revealed their relationship.

Babeu denied claims he tried to threaten the man, a former campaign volunteer. He said the accusations were an attempt to hurt his political career.

Jose provided the New Times with photos of him and Babeu embracing. It also posted a cell phone self-portrait of a smiling Babeu in his underwear, and another of what appears to be the shirtless sheriff in a bathroom, posted on a gay dating web site. Babeu didn’t deny their authenticity.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn