Cheating Gov. Sanford Has Anti-Gay Record

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday June 25, 2009

South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, who admitted that an affair with a woman in another country was the reason for a mysterious leave of absence, has a record that any right-wing politician would be proud to call his own--including opposition to reproductive rights, marriage equality, and adoption by same-sex parents.

Political tracking site On The Issues.com includes a rundown of Sanford's record, showing the family values-championing governor's favoring of school prayer, vouchers for parochial schools, federally funded religious programs, and the death penalty, as well as his opposition for domestic partnership benefits, marriage equality for gay and lesbian families, and placing children in need of homes with gay and lesbian prospective parents.

The governor is also in favor of some minimal gun control measures, and a supporter of certain affirmative action programs.

South Carolina was recently in the news when a failed candidate for a Congressional seat, Linda Ketner, made claims as to the allegedly closeted homosexuality of several of the state's political leaders.

In the case of Sanford, supporters are clearly shocked, but the governor's indiscretions have not translated into a reassessment of the political positions Sanford struck.

A Web site run by a Sanford supporter does not excuse Sanford's actions, but does defend his record.

The text at the site, which promotes the idea of Sanford running for the White house in 2012, reads, "Why do I believe that gay marriage is wrong? Simple--because I believe, based on what the Bible says, that homosexuality is a sin.

"Further, I believe that it is also a choice that people make and it is not something that you are born with.

"Two wrongs don't make a right," the text continues, "and the fact that Mark Sanford screwed up his marriage does not make a gay marriage any better (or any worse for that matter)."

Pundits, however, were less forgiving. One op-ed took issue with Sanford's conduct and that of Nevada Senator John Ensign, who was recently revealed to have had an extramarital affair with a married staffer.

Wrote Nicholas F. Benton in a June 25 article that appeared in the Falls Church News-Press, "The utter hypocrisy of right-wing Republicans who've done everything in their power to disenfranchise and deny marital and other rights to lesbians and gays jumped out of the headlines again yesterday when South Carolina's Republican Gov. Mark Sanford was caught having an extra-marital affair, and was forced to confess."

Referencing the recent scandal concerning Sen. Ensign, Benton continued, "Not only have both of these pathetic hypocrites engaged in willful lying and deceit towards their own spouses, families and constituents, but they have taken leading roles in standing up for the so-called 'defense of marriage' by assailing those who would extend equal rights to lesbians and gays."

Declared Benton, "'Defense of marriage' my foot!"

Benton then asserted that a secretive society of faux-Christian influence brokers was at work, and that both Sanford and Ensign belonged to the group.

"An even more distasteful component of all this is the religious hypocrisy they've both touted, being insiders in the circle of phony right-wing Christians who've influenced national policy for decades under the secretive veil of what is known as 'The Family,'" Benton claimed.

Online newspaper The Australian reported on June 26 that Sanford confessed everything in a press conference after it was discovered that his mysterious leave of absence was not taken for a long hike on the Appalachian Trail, which was the cover story Sanford had provided to his staff, but was spent in Argentina with a divorced mother of two named Maria.

The Australian quoted Sanford as saying, "The bottom line is this--I have been unfaithful to my wife."

The article noted that the revelation of Sanford's infidelity was only the latest in a string of scandals that have rocked the GOP.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.