Hardly a week goes by without a “family-values” Republican hypocrite is being laid low by their own puritanism. This time, it’s the Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, who has been battling a sex scandal after acknowledging last week that he indeed had made sexually charged comments to his senior political adviser Rebekah C. Mason. Last week, audio tapes of phone calls between Bentley and Mason were released to the public, which feature affectionate words from Bentley and some exceptionally cringe-worthy light phone sex. Bentley admitted to their authenticity but denied that they had a physical relationship. Mason’s quick resignation wasn’t enough to prevent State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) from moving to file impeachment charges against the seventy-three year old governor.
It’s gratifying to see that Mason isn’t the only one who has to take the fall for this – as happens far too often in Republican sex scandals. While the affairs of consenting adults should be nobody’s business but their own, Bentley’s piety, moral fortitude, and advocacy for “traditional marriage” got him into the Governor’s office in the first place. “Bentley rode a white horse. The thing that has been so novel about this is that Bentley won the governor’s office and had high approval ratings because it appeared he was this First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa deacon who looked like somebody’s grandfather and, frankly, someone’s great-grandfather” said former state legislator Steve Flowers.
But Bentley’s fall from grace is particularly fitting, because he has used his white horse to discriminate against LGBT Americans and women living in his state and impose the Republican Party’s twisted vision of a “small government” that polices human sexuality. A fierce proponent of draconian Christian “morality,” ” Bentley defunded Planned Parenthood in his state, which was overturned by a judge and forced the state to pay the beloved healthcare provider’s legal fees – a colossal waste of time and money just to deny family planning and reproductive health services to the women of his state. He’s also relentlessly fought against same-sex marriage, dismissing it as a “social experiment” that “destroys the rights of children to be connected to their biological parents”.
Amanda Marcotte at Salon has a particularly poignant assessment of Bentley’s outrageous hypocrisy and his forgive-me-Father-for-I-have-sinned routine: “A little song-and-dance that feigns moral accountability, but is in fact only about justifying social and government control over the sex lives of women and gay people. Men like Bentley only apologize for their sex lives to reinforce the idea that having a sex life is something you need to apologize for.” It’s absolutely ridiculous that we still try to impose these archaic and oppressive sexual morals on each other when even their most vocal advocates are incapable of following them.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.