Let’s just be clear on this before the proceedings get under way. It is never funny or cool to out a gay person. Homosexuality is still a really sensitive issue in this country, especially in certain parts of our great nation. Some gay people respond to these harsh environments by keeping themselves to themself. It’s sad, but true, and if someone chooses to keep their sexual orientation private, that’s entirely their decision. To repeat, it is not funny to out a closeted gay person … except in this case.
Okay, let’s back up a bit to April 2, 2015, when the North Dakota House voted down Senate Bill 2279, a piece of legislation that sought to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. SB 2279 was the third attempt in six years to get this legislation passed in North Dakota. It failed. Again. And one of the 56 “nay” votes came courtesy of Republican Randy Boehning.
The issue may have ended there if not for Boehning’s secret love of Grindr, a hookup app targeted at gay men. As the Republican was cruising through the app’s offerings, he made the mistake of propositioning 21-year-old Dustin Smith for some good ol’ fashioned sex. Smith, who recognized the conservative politician, was all too happy to let the world in on Boehning’s hypocrisy. As he told the Fargo Forum, “How can you discriminate against the person you’re trying to pick up?”
Well, Boehning has plenty of responses to that question. The only one that holds any water, though, is his claim that he made his decision based not on his own beliefs, but on the beliefs of his constituents, who he believed would not want him to support the bill. That’s actually pretty admirable. Or it would have been if that was the first thing Boehning said.
First, however, Boehning denied the allegations. Then, he admitted them, but said he was “bullied” into voting against SB 2279 because a fellow politician threatened to expose his secret life to the public if he supported the bill. As Boehning told SayAnythingBlog.com, his real concern isn’t for his political career (which is pretty much over, unless North Dakota has the world’s highest concentration of Log Cabin Republicans). He claims he’s worried that the “bullying” he’s endured will make it difficult for other politicians to cast “tough votes” in the future.
As a voter, this concern translates roughly to: I wasn’t tough enough to follow my own moral compass (even though 12 members of my own party voted in favor of the bill). Instead, I allowed myself to be shamed and extorted into selling out my beliefs while forsaking the needs of those citizens in North Dakota who rely on me to effect positive change. Instead, I covered my butt and cowtowed to special interests in the hopes that I can keep my cushy job and continue acting in my own self-interest.
There’s no telling what the fallout from this story will be. It’s a good bet that Mr. Boehning will have a tough road ahead of him come election time. After all, things are tough for homosexuals in North Dakota. Now, if only there was some legislation on the books that prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation…
Are you irritated by this information? Angered? Downright flabbergasted? Thankfully, you don’t need to keep your emotions to yourself, because Randy Boehning’s email address is a matter of public record. Feel free to let him know how you feel!