Oh, the irony!
Here’s a letter to the Houston Chronicle from Cindy Rosenthal, the “aggrieved” wife who complains that “People’s personal lives are not what newspapers should be about!” — in defense of a husband who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that homosexual couples have no right to privacy in their own bedrooms.
Claims to fame: Harris County, Texas, District Attorney; “family values” Republican; unsuccessful defender of anti-gay Texas sodomy law; husband; father of three; emotional adulterer; racist good ol’ boy
Moral apex: We can’t sum it up in a single paragraph any better than 365gay.com did, on January 17, 2008:
The district attorney who defended the Texas law criminalizing homosexuality before the US Supreme Court is desperately trying to keep his job following the discovery of e-mails containing sexually explicit videos, racist jokes and what is described as torrid love notes to his executive secretary.
It all started with a police-brutality case against the county, during which Rosenthal had to give a deposition, and was ordered to hand over his emails.
And guess what was among those emails? Well, this, among many, many others:
Hint: Kerry Stevens is not Rosenthal’s wife.
Over the first few days of 2008, Rosenthal refused to withdraw his re-election bid (his current term ends in ’08), then did drop out, then thought about re-entering the race, then decided against it. (With us so far?)
All along, both friends (including Texas Republican Party officials) and foes of Rosenthal’s have been urging — nay, demanding — he resign, which, as of this writing (January 23, 2008), he refuses to do.
Now, all this just adds up to bad behavior, right? Nothing in Rosenthal’s actions could be construed as remotely criminal, right? (After all, as he himself said, arguing against Lawrence v. Texas in front of the U.S. Supreme Court: “adultery is not penalized in Texas,” even though “it is certainly not condoned in Texas.”)
Right… kinda. Cheating on your wife and sending lovey-dovey mash notes (and racist jokes) to your secretary isn’t criminal — but refusing to obey a court order certainly is:
“The rule of law,” Jeremy Desel of KHOU reminds us, “is the same, no matter which courthouse you are in. In federal court, that rule comes from the judge.” And it appears Rosenthal refused to comply with a court order to relinquish his emails; instead, it appears, he deleted them. In other words — it appears — Rosenthal destroyed evidence.
Why do you call him an “emotional adulterer”? Because we don’t know for sure if he’s actually, physically been shagging his secretary, Kerry Stevens. One news outlet, however, does imply that Rosenthal was putting something else besides email in Stevens’ inbox, calling the situation “Rosenthal’s extra-marital affair” (also noting that Stevens pulls in an astounding $70,000 a year, and drives a county car).
Anything else? Yeah, plenty. Get a load of this story, which is every bit as interesting as any old sex scandal:
So, there’s this Texas Supreme Court justice by the name of David Medina, appointed by Republican Governor Rick Perry, a.k.a. “Governor Goodhair” (who is definitely not gay, no matter what anybody says, and no matter how “many, many times” the Austin Chronicle has heard The Rumor) in 2004, who— well, here, we’ll let Miguel Bustillo of the Los Angeles Times tell the story. Read it, and then ask yourself what you think is really going on there? We think dirty-’n'-racist emails aren’t going to be Rosenthal’s biggest problem in this life, that’s what we think. Can you say “cronyism“?
We also think it says a lot about Rosenthal as a man.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Republican “moral values” crusaders who condemn, and demonize, those of us unbound by archaic mores and free to be who our god, or simply nature, meant us to be, it’s that they think, by some special dispensation, they’re above the law — be it man’s law, or God’s law.
Isn’t it fascinating that Chuck himself, on the welcome page of the official Web site of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, wrote this:
We expect not only competence but also professionalism and an absolute commitment to the ends of securing justice without regard to status, race, gender, or national origin, or the prominence of either the victims of crime or those charged with crimes.
“Status, race, gender, or national origin,” we understand. But what’s the phrase “prominence of either the victims of crime or those charged with crimes” doing there?
Attorney and Houston City Council member Jolanda ‘Jo’ Jones provides an answer: “a pattern of bias against minorities and the poor.”
Where everything stands today (January 23, 2008): A hearing on possible contempt charges is slated for scheduled for January 31, 2008.
Fun fact: While arguing against Lawrence v. Texas, Rosenthal displayed astounding ignorance — not only about the nature of homosexuality, but about the law itself:
• When asked by one of the justices if same-sex adoption was legal in Texas, Rosenthal didn’t know the answer.
• When asked if he was certain that gay people “can’t procreate children,” Rosenthal answered: “We are sure that they — that they can’t do that.” (That’s going to come as a surprise to the untold numbers of lesbians and gay men who have their own biological kids.)
• After explaining that the same sexual conduct prohibited between homosexuals was not prohibited between heterosexuals, Rosenthal opined that “deviant sexual intercourse with heterosexuals” could “also lead to marriage and to procreation.” Last time we checked, oral and anal sex (specific sexual conduct prohibited between homosexuals — but not heterosexuals — under Texas law, pre-Lawrence) never led to procreation. (The justice’s response: “But procreation… many people with the blessings of Texas can have sexual relations who are unable to procreate, so… it certainly isn’t true that sexual relations are for the purpose of procreation and anything that is not for that purpose is beyond the pale. You can’t make that distinction.”)
First of all, let me say that consent may be alleged in this case, but consent is not proven in the record in this case. There’s — there is nothing in the record that shows that people are capable of giving consent was, in fact, given, but even given that, I — I think that the — that this Court having determined that there are certain kinds of conduct that it will accept and certain kinds of conduct it will not accept may draw the line at the bedroom door of the h
eterosexual married couple because of the interest that this Court has that this Nation has and certainly that the State of Texas has for the preservation of marriage, families and the procreation of children.
. . .
Even if you infer that various States acting through their legislative process have repealed sodomy laws, there is no protected right to engage in extrasexual — extramarital sexual relations, again, that can trace their roots to history or the traditions of this nation.
. . .
I think what — what I’m saying is — and I had not gotten into the equal protection argument, Texas has the right to set moral standards and can set bright line moral standards for its people. And in the setting of those moral standards, I believe that they can say that certain kinds of activity can exist and certain kinds of activity cannot exist.
— Charles A. Rosenthal
Oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court
against Lawrence v. Texas
March 26, 2003
Recently some Harris County District Attorney inner office e-mails have been released in the media. I understand that I have said some things that have caused pain and difficulty for my family, my coworkers and friends. I deeply regret having said those things. Moreover, I am sorry for the problems I have caused anyone. I also understand that sometimes things happen for a purpose. This event has served as a wake-up call to me to get my house in order both literally and figuratively.
— Chuck Rosenthal
Statement to the press
December 28, 2007
Rosenthal probably won’t resign — I don’t have much faith in him. But he should be prosecuted with the same compassion and justice with which he prosecuted the minorities and the poor who have come before his office.
— Jolanda ‘Jo’ Jones
Houston City Council member
Case against Rosenthal couldn’t be more convincing
January 19, 2008
Rosenthal’s response filed on December 18, 2003 at 1900 hours truly takes the cake. Rosenthal stops just short of insisting his conduct warrants a medal.
— Opening lines under “Factual Background”
Erik Adam Ibarra, et al. v. Harris County, et al.
(Plaintiffs’ Response to Rosenthal Opposed Motion for Protection … and Motion to With-hold E-Mails and Supplementation to Plaintiffs’ Motions for Sanctions and Contempt)
December 18, 2007
Much of my focus has been the education and training of the staff here…
Re-Elect Chuck Rosenthal for Harris County District Attorney Web site
Suggested Bible reading for Mr. Rosenthal:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
— Matthew 5:28