Representative Patricia Todd of Birmingham, Alabama has recently received death threats after threatening to expose the extramarital affairs of colleagues. She singled out those who responded to the federal court ruling striking down Alabama's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage with "family values."
Although it has since been removed, Todd had posted a message to her Facebook page detailing her plan. She clearly stated that she would call out her colleagues who spoke about the same-sex marriage ban in terms of "family values" while having engaged in or continuing to engage in extramarital affairs.
I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about 'family values' when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have. I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet out.
However, now, Todd has apparently backed off her threats because she says, after consultation with her lawyer, she doesn't have the proof that is required to avoid charge of slander if she's wrong. However, she also told the Huffington Post that she has serious concerns about her safety because of the death threats, which may well have contributed to her decision.
My life's been threatened in the past couple of days...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.
Admitting she could have "handled it better," meaning it seems, her natural outrage at hypocrisy, goes to show just how dangerous it can be for an activist to become a politician, yet try to keep an activist mentality. While politicians can have significant amounts of power to direct a narrative, there are also rules. Todd also said that while there have been few overt reactions from her "family values" opponents since her threat, she has also received zero support from her Democratic colleagues. Unsurprising if she transgressed in a way which was unacceptable to politicians of both parties.
We understand your sentiment, Patricia. We agree with it. But you can't help your fellow LGBT+ Alabamans if you end up charged with slander, and potentially censured by your fellows. Maybe the movement needs a little less activism from you, and a little more calculated dealing. That is, after all, what you signed up for, and what the people elected you to do.
Image via AP.