The Kansas City Star today reported that the speaker of the Missouri House, Republican John Diehl, sent several sexually charged text messages to a female college freshman who was working as an intern in the state legislature.
Diehl, who is married, has championed the Religious Right’s anti-gay agenda in the state house, and has in turn been praised by state conservative groups for his “moral leadership.”
Earlier this year, Diehl and the president pro-tempore of the state Senate filed an amicus brief in defense of the state’s anti-gay-marriage amendment, leading the Missouri Family Policy Council, the state affiliate of the Family Research Council, to praise the speaker “for demonstrating moral leadership and true integrity in standing up for the sacred institution of marriage and the family values of the people of Missouri.” The state affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention thanked him for “fighting to defend biblical marriage.”
“Missourians owe a debt of gratitude to Speaker of the House Tim Jones, Senate President Pro Tempore Tom Dempsey and Speaker of the House-designee John Diehl for intervening on behalf of the state in the Jackson County case where state Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled that 10 same-sex couples married in other states, but now living in Missouri, are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual married couples,” said Don Hinkle, editor of the Missouri Southern Baptist newsletter The Pathway. “Their action took political courage and they are to be commended for their leadership.”
Diehl also co-sponsored a 2012 bill to ban Gay-Straight Alliances in public schools, which read: “Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time called it a “hateful and unconstitutional attack on individual rights” and slammed Diehl for backing “a loathsome bill in a cynical attempt to garner support from the right wing.”