Jonathan Saenz, president of the conservative anti-LGBT group Texas Values, is the laughingstock of the Internet this week. And I don’t feel bad for him.
He’s one of the most homophobic loudmouths of the movement, and just months before he became the head of a massive anti-gay group, his wife left him for another woman.
The Texas LGBT publication Lone Star Q acquired court records showing that Saenz’s ex-wife, Corrine Morris Rodriguez Saenz, was seeing a woman named Ercimin Paredes at the time of their divorce in 2012. The women were both teachers at Becker Elementary School in the Austin Independent School District.
Jonathan and Corrine were married in 2002 and separated in July 2011, with Corrine filing for divorce a month later. Jonathan, a conservative Catholic, took the reins at Texas Values in 2012, while the divorce was still pending. Fancy that.
In her original petition for divorce, Corrine Saenz alleged their marriage was “insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities… that destroys the legitimate ends of marriage and prevents reasonable expectations of reconciliation.” In his initial response, Jonathan Saenz denied that claim and asked the court to refuse to grant the divorce on those grounds.
Since taking the role at the organization, he’s been a major proponent of eliminating LGBT rights pretty much entirely. It goes without saying that he’s active in the fight against marriage equality, but he’s also on the record pushing for ex-gay “conversion therapy,” accusing LGBT people of being sexual predators, and saying that anti-discrimination laws are like putting Christians in concentration camps.
But Jonathan Saenz didn’t limit his revenge — revenge? Retaliation? Self-preservation? — to his workplace. Instead, he took every legal avenue possible to try and punish his wife and/or separate her from her girlfriend. Unfortunately for him, they all failed.
When they divorced, the ex-couple agreed to each receive psychological treatment, not atypical when a divorce affects children. (They have three and share custody.) Jonathan ordered that he and his wife receive evaluations from Austin psychologist Stephen Thorne — whose practice includes evaluating sex offenders — at a cost of $2,500 apiece. When Corrine was unwilling to pay the fee and sought out a different, more reasonably priced psychologist, Jonathan filed a motion to have her fined or jailed for violating the terms of the divorce.
Both Corrine and Jonathan Saenz agreed to psychological evaluations as part of the divorce, but results aren’t included in the case file. However, court records suggest Jonathan Saenz had a prior history of mental health treatment. During discovery in the divorce, Jonathan Saenz sought to compel his ex-wife to produce all records in her possession “pertaining to the psychiatric, psychological, counseling or other mental health treatments of Jonathan Saenz, including but not limited to any documents relating to any consultations or treatments during their marriage.”
In another move, Jonathan tried to ban his wife’s girlfriend from having any contact with his and Corrine’s children. He also reportedly issued subpoenas looking for records of interactions between his ex and her girlfriend: photos of them together or with the children, school records of their work schedules and travel plans, and proof of trips, entertainment or meals they shared.
Last, but not least:
In a counterpetition for divorce dated May 7, 2013, Jonathan Saenz accused Corrine Saenz of adultery and sought a permanent order barring Paredes from being in the presence of the children.
But Jonathan Saenz was unsuccessful, and there is no mention of Paredes in the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce, which was hammered out through mediation.
Given his uber-conservative background, it’s safe to say Jonathan already harbored some intense homophobia. Watching his wife leave for the *dark side* was the trigger that sent it spiraling to another dimension. Getting divorced sucks (I wouldn’t know, but I can only imagine) and knowing your partner has already moved on surely makes it worse.
But is that any reason to forgive his excessive bigotry? Hell no. There are countless political cartoons mocking straight people who say marriage equality will “ruin their marriages,” including my personal favorite of a distracted husband checking out a pair of brides. Cute, but no. If your marriage isn’t stable, that’s not anyone else’s fault. Straight people leave each other every day, too. Don’t villainize us for your relationship troubles.
As for Corrine — good for her for getting out of there. Hearing those kinds of hateful beliefs over and over would be impossible for any partner to endure, whether the hate was aimed at you or not. But especially if it was.