Is it any surprise Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn knew about colleague Sen. John Ensign’s extramarital affair … and reportedly encouraged him to pay off his mistress to go away? Is it also any surprise that Sens. Coburn and Ensign both believe in protecting the institution of marriage?

Coburn (pictured, left) knew about Ensign’s affair with staffer Cynthia (Cindy) Hampton for more than a year, his office confirms. But while Coburn’s rep acknowledges the senator urged his peer to end the affair, he disputes the charge (made by Ms. Hampton’s husband Doug) that he instructed Ensign to pay millions to the Hamptons, so they could pay off their million-dollar mortgage and disappear. (Ensign wrote this letter to Cindy calling off the affair, but supposedly began pursuing her again after writing it.)

So what truth is there in this matter? Well, the two men are devout Christians, meeting up at D.C.’s “secret” religious boarding house. They’re also the type of stand up legislators who believe marriage is for one man and one woman.

Ensign is one of the worst equality offenders. In 2004 he proudly touted on his website that “”ENSIGN DEFENDS SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE ON SENATE FLOOR.” In 2006 he voted for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, on the grounds that family values needed protecting. Ensign then protected said family values by cheating on his wife.

Coburn also voted for that amendment (as well as, in 1999, voting to ban gay adoptions in D.C.), so it’s not surprising he was well aware of his colleague’s infidelities.

But maybe Coburn is the proper gentleman he claims to be. After all, he tried to get Ensign to end the affair, and what shows a commitment to protecting the institution of marriage like voting against equality and counseling friends against cheating?

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