NOTE: This story has been updated with One Orlando Alliance rescinding its job offer to Rep. Patricia Todd.
The other day, Alabama's only openly gay state suggested that Governor Kay Ivey is also gay. In a since deleted tweet, Patricia Todd wrote:
"Will someone out her for God's sake....I have heard for years that she is gay and moved her girlfriend out of her house when she became Gov. I am sick of closeted elected officials."
This has caused a bit of a firestorm in conservative Alabama, but not so much because of some "is she or isn't she gay" controversy. Fewer and fewer Alabamians are concerned about that, as the latest opinion polls about gay marriage show. While Alabama is now the only state where a majority are opposed to gay marriage, it's a decidedly slim majority.
No, this controversy is more about common decency.
Some stories are not ours to tell.
- When a friend of mine was going through a divorce, I didn't tell anyone about it, because it was not my story to tell.
- A co-worker gets an awesome new job and will be leaving the company; that's their happy news and not my story to tell.
- If someone confides with me about their illness, I don't tell others because it's not my story to tell.
- What about the couple that's been trying to get pregnant? If finally happens, but they don't want to share just yet. Again, not my story to tell.
- Telling others about someone's sexuality, even if true, is just not my story to tell.
People have their reasons for keeping things quiet, whether it's a happy they want to share themselves without others telling it first (#spoileralert), or it's something sensitive. Unless there's a real reason why something specific needs to see the light of day, then it's not our story to tell.
Shame on Representative Patricia Todd for saying anything at all -- for spreading rumors, whether true or not. What's worse is that she admittedly doesn't actually know anything about the governor's sexuality. (This reminds me of the Rod Stewart rumors we all heard years ago; it seems they were just that -- rumors).
And while opinions in the LGBTQ community are no more unanimous than they are among the general population, the Executive Director of Equality Alabama called her tweet "reckless and unacceptable."
"Outing someone without their permission or against their will is an act of violence. Representative Todd's comments about Governor Ivey's real or perceived sexual orientation present rumor as fact and are reckless and unacceptable. Engaging in cheap political gossip and taking sucker punches does nothing to serve the LGBTQ community and only works to its detriment."
Meanwhile, Governor Kay Ivey has responded to the rumors, calling it a "disgusting lie."
Will it be a campaign issue? Scott Dawson, an evangelical who's criticized Kay Ivey for continuing ADECA grants to an LGBTQ group in Huntsville, denies criticizing her as a way to get rumors about her into the open. Tommy Battle tells al.com that we've "lost focus on what's important for Alabamians...." Liberals don't seem to have anything to gain by this, since it's a primary campaign between Republicans.
Ultimately, the only person hurt by this may be the one who made the comments in the first place. Patricia Todd is not running for re-election to the Alabama Legislature, because she recently accepted a position with One Orlando Alliance, a group that was formed following the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting. But in an interesting development, it appears that she tweeted her way out of a job. The offer has been rescinded, and in a statement, the group said they believe "coming out is a personal choice and [they] do not support involuntarily outing."
Check out al.com for their in-depth coverage of this story.