Sunday, September 8, 2013


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Sept. 8, 2013

In last Sunday’s Roundhouse Roundup, I noted that while most of the conservative reaction to several counties issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples has been muted, there has been some backlash, some of which is outlandish.

But it should be noted that even though most of the public reaction by marriage-equality proponents has been in the spirit of love and joy because they and/or their friends finally can marry the person they love, there have been some nasty exceptions.

Sen. Sharer
Granted — unlike the Curry County clerk I mentioned last week, who said she was worried she’d have to start issuing licenses to couples engaged in bestiality and incest — the pro-gay marriage nastiness I’m going to quote was not by elected officials.

But it’s still nasty, still hateful.

I’m talking about tweets directed toward state Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, probably the most vocal opponent of marriage equality in the state. Sharer is one of several Republican lawmakers who filed a lawsuit against Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins, who set the gay marriage bandwagon in motion last month when he started issuing licenses to gay couples.

Sharer also caused a stir with his blog post in which he talked about Alexander the Great, who was known to conquer on the gay side, but advised his troops to get married and “stop whoring around.”

I had a little fun with Sharer and Alexander in last week’s column. But not like these tweets:

“@BillSharer GOD YOU ARE A (expletive deleted) MORON” said one.

“@BillSharer worries if gay marriage is legal his boyfriend might pressure him to leave his wife?” another said.

And one that’s more concerning than the obscene and libelous ones said, “@BillSharer No bigot should ever be permitted to hold gov’t office.NM SenBill Sharer needs to be removed from office BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.”

It would be easy for a politician to use garbage like this and say, “See! All gay-marriage supporters are rude and profane!” To Sharer’s credit, he didn’t.

In fact, on his blog last week, he gave examples of people who contacted him to disagree. Apparently they didn’t cuss at him or call him a moron.

“The loving manner expressed by these three people moved me,” Sharer wrote — even though they didn’t change his mind.

There was one he identified as “A Ph.d.” Sharer wrote, “While we continue to disagree on the issue of marriage we found common ground on broad issues. He had a positive effect on me.”

There was a “grandmotherly woman” who Sharer said was “by far the most kind and gentle person I have encountered in this debate. She asked me to think about some very specific things, which I did. This woman still has my head spinning. While I still believe marriage is between one man and one woman, I felt great love from her and I wish to express that love in return.”

Lastly, there was a “businessman” with whom Sharer had a “long and wonderful conversation.” Sharer said, “I could tell when I answered the phone that he was scared. He stayed strong, even facing what I am sure he thought was his mortal enemy, and politely told me his story, which was very compelling.”

In 21st-century melodrama politics, everything is boiled down to cheering our heroes and booing our villains. But when you keep in mind that your opponents are human, it tends to make things more interesting.

(Below: Back in 1968, Country Joe & The Fish foresaw the state of 21st Century political discourse.)

I stand corrected: In an Aug. 11 column about “party-hoppers,” I used material from an old story in which Secretary of State Dianna Duran had mentioned a former state Rep. Larry Sheffield, who had changed from Democrat to Republican while in office.

Former state Rep. LEONARD Sheffield
A few days ago, I was contacted by former Rep. Larry Sheffield — who represented Doña Ana County as a Republican in the 1985-86 term. Sheffield, now living in Arizona, told me that was wrong.

“You have me confused with my father, Leonard Sheffield, a [New Mexico] legislator who served for four terms from Otero County, and changed his last-term registration from Democrat to Republican. (I converted him!),” the younger Sheffield wrote in an email.

Sheffield noted that he and his dad were the only father and son team to serve together in the House at the same time.