Alabama’s only openly gay state legislator, Rep. Patricia Todd (D), expanded on the threat she made over the weekend in a Facebook update in which she said she’d out the marital infidelities of straight anti-gay politicians who threatened to derail marriage equality in the state.
In a Jan. 27 interview, Todd said, “It’s pretty common knowledge in Montgomery that legislators have had affairs with different people [working for them]…clerks, office staff, that sort of thing.” She also said the response to her threat has both “shut down” the rhetoric and, alarmingly, also inspired “death threats” against her.
Speaking with me on SiriusXM Progress, Todd discussed her Facebook post, which she said she wrote after being angered by the reaction of the Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard to a federal judge striking down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage last week (the decision was stayed until Feb. 9). Hubbard called the ruling “outrageous,” adding, “We will continue defending the Christian conservative values that make Alabama a special place to live."
“My statement on my Facebook page was one of, ‘If you’re gonna cast those stones you better look at your own family values and think about it,’” Todd said. She then expanded on the “affairs” she’s heard about among married heterosexual anti-gay legislators.
“You know, it’s the rumor mill,” she explained. “Obviously, I don’t know for sure, because I’m not a participant in one of those [affairs]. But it’s pretty common knowledge in Montgomery that legislators have had affairs with different people [working for them]…clerks, office staff, that sort of thing. And my post was, ‘Beware, because are your family values that strong?’ I wanted to change the conversation from, ‘Who has the most family values?’ because we know a lot of gay families struggle every day, with the discrimination they face raising children they love, in a loving home environment. And I wanted those family to be recognized as having strong family values.”
Hubbard changed his tone after Todd’s threat, putting out a statement calling her a “friend” and saying he was “sorry” if she was upset by his remarks, while at the same time not changing his position. Among others in the Alabama GOP there was a dramatic shift in response as well.
“It’s been pretty quiet actually,” Todd said with a laugh. “It’s pretty amazing for Alabama, because people are usually coming out of the woodwork to comment. But this story, with my threat, has gone viral and it really has shut down a lot of the rhetoric from the other side. And they know I’m an activist, not a politician and that I will use every weapon in my arsenal.”
Todd also said she has received death threats since her Facebook post, while she said she hasn’t heard “a peep” from fellow Democrats or civil rights leaders, with no one defending her beyond other gay activists.
“My life’s been threatened in the past couple of days,” she said, describing phone and email threats. “A lot of my friends are worried about my safety. The police are patrolling by my house more often. I’ve got an alarm system. I am being careful. But they’re not going to scare me back into my house. I’m not going to let them do that.”