Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll (R) — a former Florida state representative and a Romney surrogate — has been accused of having a sexual relationship with one of her female aides. Carroll denies that the affair ever happened, but her response to the controversy relies on a line of reasoning that simply wouldn’t hold if she were accused of having a relationship with a male aide:
CARROLL: The problem is that when you have these accusations that come out, it’s not just one person you’re attacking. It’s an entire family. My husband doesn’t want to hear that. He knows the type of woman I am. I mean, my kids know the type of woman I am. For twenty-nine years – I’m the one that’s married for twenty-nine years. The accuser is the one that’s been single for a long time. So usually black women that look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.
Regardless of whether the accusation against her is true or false, Carroll’s defense of her character has more to do with disproving the allegations about her sexuality than with disproving the allegations about marital infidelity. Carroll seems to believe that her marriage, her children, and her appearance all prevent her from being capable of having a relationship with a woman — when, of course, none of these factors is actually a precursor to heterosexuality.
Carroll, who believes President Obama’s decision to allow gay and lesbian individuals to serve openly in the military will throw the armed forces “off their mission,” may have personal opinions about the LGBT community that impact her response to the current controversy. However, perpetrating negative stereotypes about lesbians — particularly the false assumption that they look a certain way — is not a persuasive way to defend her character.