Editor's Note: Guest blogger Mike Airhart is the founder of exgaywatch.com, a co-founder of mencanstoprape.org, and a newswire editor and content syndicator. Mike has written extensively on the Christian Right dating back to the 1980s, as well as rape prevention, hate crimes, and human rights; his work has appeared in Sojourners magazine and the Nashville Tennessean. He has been cited by Newsday, the Advocate, and most recently the Episcopal News Service.
Lone Star Q broke the news this week that Corrine Morris Rodriguez Saenz divorced her husband Jonathan to date another woman -- just months before Jonathan became president of the antigay group Texas Values.
Lone Star Q observes that the divorce marked a transformation in Jonathan, from mere social social conservative to "homophobic firebrand."
With Saenz as president, Texas Values has led the charge against not only same-sex marriage, but also passage of LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances in San Antonio and Houston. In fighting the ordinances, Saenz has often repeated the debunked right-wing myth that sexual predators would use the laws to prey on women and children in bathrooms.
Saenz helped push an amendment to the 2014 Texas GOP platform endorsing the discredited practice of gay conversion therapy. In media interviews, Saenz has stated that same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy and people marrying their stepchildren, and suggested that gay activists want to put Christians in concentration camps.
The Saenzes share custody of their three children, according to Lone Star Q, which added that "court records suggest Jonathan Saenz had a prior history of mental health treatment."
Saenz's recent political history, tracked by Right Wing Watch, reflects a startling fear of homosexuality. But his activities prior to the divorce were extreme in other ways. Since at least 2008, critics say, Saenz has led efforts to rewrite Texas history schoolbooks.
At times, the revisions sought to portray Christian Right activists as historical giants, teach evangelical reinterpretations of the Bible as fact, and erase from history books black, Hispanic, and less-conservative historical figures such as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and labor leader César Chávez.
According to Texas Values' website:
Texas Values operates as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is the state family policy council (FPC) associated with CitizenLink, a public-policy partner of Focus on the Family, and recognized by the Family Research Council.
If Saenz truly accepts the ideology of his sponsors and affiliates, then he must maintain that his ex-wife was not born gay or bisexual; something made her that way. In the view of "ex-gay" therapists, that cause can include an inadequate or abusive spouse.
Saenz's antigay vitriol, seen in the context of his marital predicament, suggests a man trapped by his own ideology.
- If he was an "abusive" spouse, then how to explain the noted spike in his public abusiveness?
- If he was "inadequate" as a spouse, was it because of shortcomings in his attraction to women or in his own masculinity, and if so, what is his actual sexual orientation?
- And if he is a devout Catholic as he claims, where is his spirit of forgiveness and grace toward family members and toward marginalized members of his community?
Whatever his beliefs requires him to conclude about his own orientation or adequacy as a husband, Saenz is unlikely to retract his ideology or his political power at this late date.
But as vicious details of his divorce become public, voters will not take so kindly to a politician when they know that his public antigay vitriol is directed at his ex-wife and family.