Friday, October 26, 2007

The plot thickens... and an endorsement!

As I thought might happen, some of Cheryl Haskins' supporters are now trying to frame my opposition to her candidacy as having something to do with the fact that she is African-American. Let me be very clear: nothing could be further from the truth. I was initially drawn to Cheryl's campaign in a positive way because I wanted to see a successful black woman on the city council. If you'd like to read the full discussion, please see the comments section of this entry, where I've posted the entire conversation.

I have held off on endorsing any candidates for city council, but let me take this opportunity express my strong support for Greg Taylor, a highly-regarded community leader and businessman. I have heard from people of all backgrounds that he is an excellent leader and a very fair person, and is far more qualified than his opponent, Terry Persson. Greg is therefore getting my vote. He happens to be African-American, and is a proud member of the Christian Faith Center, an evangelical church. What he isn't, though, is an outspoken anti-gay rights activist with a campaign being funded by outsiders.

7 comments:

Renton Citizen said...

Here is the email conversation I've had with two of Cheryl's supporters, completely unedited:

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I know Cheryl personally and she is not the kind of person that your blog is attempting to discredit. She like 95% of Americans feel the same way as expressed in the editorial below. To be fair please post the following editorial. I'll check and see if you do.

Am I Homophobic?

The dictionary defines homosexuality as: "Having a desire for someone of the same sex [gender] or the act of having sex with someone of the same sex [gender]. In other words it is a sexual behavior carried out with someone of the same gender. It did not define it as two people of the same gender who happens to love one another. It defined it as one who desires a person of the same sex. Most would agree that desiring someone and loving someone are not the same. Having said that, Am I homophobic if I do not like, accept or feel comfortable with homosexual behavi or? Homophobic meaning: fearing or hating the gay person or the homosexual individual who engage in such behavi or? Before answering this question, please let me share with you other behaviors that I do not like.

1. I do not like it when heterosexuals affectionately make out in public when they can do it in the privacy of their homes ˆ Am I hetero-phobic and does this mean that I fear or hate heterosexuals?

2. I do not like it when a person cheat on their spouse ˆ Because I am opposed to that type of behavior, am I what one would call a spousal cheater-phobic, a person that hates or fears spouses that cheat?

3. I do not like it when my sons sag their pants like gang members ˆ Perhaps this means that I hate or fear my sons, or that I have phobia that is associated with my son‚s sagging pants. What should we call it, Son‚s Sagging Pants Phobia?

4. I do not like it when drivers cut other drivers off on the freeway ˆ What would this be called, a driver‚s-phobia, meaning that I fear or fear hate drivers who do this? Do I have to fear them or hate them because I do not like what they do?

5. I do not like it when my African American brothers and sisters use the "N" word. This must mean I am afro-phobic and fear and hate my African American brothers and sisters?

6. I do not like a lot of my own bad habits ˆ Am I self ˆphobic and hate and fear myself?

I guess you get my point. Just because I do not like certain behaviors or that I am uncomfortable with certain behaviors, does not mean that I fear or hate the person who engage in such behavior.

We must not allow the media and others to label us or put a guilt trip on those of us who do not like, accept or feel comfortable with the gay lifestyle. I‚m sure that even within the gay community there are certain behaviors that they do not like among their own group, but does that mean they fear or hate the person demonstrating the undesired behavior? Today, several people have family members who may be on drugs. Because they are uncomfortable wtih that lifestyle, does that mean they hate or fear their family members? Millions of parents do not approve of their teenager's lifestyle whether it is associated with hip hop or punk rock, but they still love their children.

Do Cheryl hate or fear gays? Absolutely not! If she ever saw anyone attempting to physically harm a gay person, as a Christian, like the "Good Samaritan in the Bible, she would be one of the first to come to his or her rescue, not because he or she is gay, but because these individuals (whether homosexual or heterosexual), like Cheryl, are loved by God (St John 3:16). Those who accuse others of hating or fearing gays simply because they are uncomfortable with their lifestyle, perhaps are individuals who do not know how to disagree with someone, without fearing or hating the peson. These individuals are sick and are in need of professional help.

Final thoughts: Gays often compare their experience with the African American experience, but African Americans have never had the option of removing their black skin and placing it in the closet to escape or avoid persecution. And we were never hated because of our private behavior behind closed doors. We were hated simply because we were publicly, physically and visibly black. There is a difference between homophobia and Afro-Phobia

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My reply:

I have never said Cheryl "hates" anyone.

You are more than welcome to post this information as a comment to one of my entries at http://rentonfacts.blogspot.com. Cheryl did not write the editorial below, nor does it the address main issues I have with her: that has too much baggage to effectively represent all the citizens of Renton, that the amount of money she's getting from outside the city is ridiculous, and that she has not developed strong ties to organizations within Renton itself. I'm sure there are lot of people in the city government who feel the same way she does about gay people, but they haven't made a public career out their feelings.

Also, your 95% figure... I'm afraid you need to do a little research on that one.

If you look up the word "heterosexual" in the dictionary, you'll get the exact same sort of definition as homosexuality -- an emphasis on sexual attraction and desire. Does that mean that heterosexual relationships are only based on sex? Are you telling me that gay people can't experience romantic love in their relationships? Buddy, you have a lot of nerve to make that assumption about me or anyone else.

As far as comparing race to sexual orientation in concerned, I have never said that the two things are the same, and most people I know understand that doing so is controversial... unless, of course the comparison comes people of color who also happen to be gay! You really need to have this conversation with them, and I can put you in touch with quite a few African American gay people and organizations. However, I will say that all classes people who have faced oppression or violence -- from religious minorities to racial minorities to gay people -- share common experiences. You like to focus on the sex act, but there are plenty of gay teens who've never had sex with anyone, but are routinely harassed, threatened, and attacked just because of their expressed or perceived orientation, not their behavior. I know, because I was one of them at one time. It doesn't matter how hard you try to hide being gay -- even the suspicion that you are can l ead to hatred and violence from others. Do you think most gay bashings occur because the attackers are focused on a behavior? No, gay people are attacked because of their identity. Need proof? Here you go: http://www.komotv.com/news/10805906.html.

Your issues with gay people seem to be based on primal fear and your reliance on a fundamentalist view of the Bible. But if not, please explain otherwise.

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Dear Renton Facts:

The money that she is getting outside the community is because of her character, not because of an agenda. She is loved by a diverse group of people including friends and family who live outside of Renton but knows based on her character and professionalism that we would do a great job for the citizens of Renton. Every candidates gets contributions from people who know them personally.

As far as the gay issue is concerned, if you do not want to address the total issue on the subject the subject should never be brought up. You are right the definition of hetero and homosexual are the same. You are also right that people can fall in love with anyone or anything. But what makes the two groups different is not the love that they have for the person, it is the sex that they have with the person. The Renton campaign is not about gay rights, nor have you or anyone else asked the other candidates their position on the subject. Why single her out? Is it because she black and female?

As you can see from my editorial, I have problems with heterosexual behavior as well as with things I don't like about myself. So the editorial is not an attack on homosexual lifestyle, it merely challeges those who think that homosexuality is the only lifestyle or behavior that individuals may be opposed to, or uncomfortable with. The editorial has nothing to do with you. I do not know you personally and it would be wrong to attack you. Just like it is wrong for you to attempt to attack Cheryl when you really know nothing about her other than heresay or what you have interpreted from reports. You would not like it if someone judged you in the same manner without getting to know you personally. Again, my editorial is not attacking you or homosexuality, it is addressing a stereotype thought process that whites have used against blacks for years (assuming that they knew blacks enough to how they think and based on the that false assumption, judge them without ever a relationship with them). My editorial addresses the content on your website only, not you or homosexuals!

I tried to post the editorial on your website and was unsuccessful. That's why I sent it to you.

And as far as black homosexuals are concerned, I know how they feel because my relatives are gay they have a problem with racism within the gay community and I (as a former radio talk show host) have a track record of working with gays, long before gay lifestyles were acceptable. And if you think that other groups have been brought from their homeland and enslaved in America for over 400 years and were beaten, raped, and murdered along with having a multitude of legislation passed against them simply because of their color or religion. You need to re-examine your history.

Having said all of that, please accept my most sincere appreciation for taking the time to respond to my editorial.

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this came from another email address:

Renton Facts

I was forwarded a copy of your e-mail. You should be careful, your e-mail is being circulated and your bias against this African American candidate is being exposed. Who ever wrote the editorial below, seems to know what he is talking about and makes some good points. Are you going to post his editorial and the dialogue between the two of you?

Concerned Renton Supporter

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and my reply:

Dear Reader,

I know that you are circulating our correspondence, so please continue to forward this email on to people, in its entirety.

Perhaps I didn't make it clear in my original introductory blog posting, but the very reason why I was initially excited about Cheryl's campaign is that she is an African American woman. When I saw her billboard and went to her website, I said, "I'm voting for Cheryl!" I kid you not. I was ecstatic to see that a successful black woman was running for city council. Then I discovered the truth about her politics. Please, do not make my concerns about Cheryl an issue of race, because they are not.

As far as persecution is concerned, apparently you're not familiar with, say, the torture and murder of same-sex oriented people beginning in the Middle Ages in Europe, the extermination of homosexuals in the Nazi death camps, or, more recently, the imprisonment and execution of gay people in Columbia and Iran. I am very much of aware of the horrors suffered by people of African descent in this country and elsewhere, but I ask that you read up on some of the nightmares gay people have experienced -- and continue to experience.

Finally, I have not make any assumptions about what black people think or tried to speak for anyone but myself. Before making that sort of accusation, you should really read through my blog again.

Thank you discussing this issue with me, and I very much respect your straightforwardness.


Kevin Poole

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I will circulate your e-mail and I respect both you and your opinions. However, this is Ms Haskins first run for a political office, so she has no background in politics. In this race she has sought out the views and needs of the citizens and Renton, and based on their concerns, views and needs, she decided to run. She has no politics, she merely has the heart of the citizens of Renton. She comes with no hidden agenda, she merely comes to represent the people who work and or live in Renton each day.

As an African American researcher and historian and the author of several books, I am well aware of what happen to Homosexuals, Christians, Muslims, Jews and other groups including the Irish. But as I stated before, blacks never had the option of hiding their skin color to avoid persecution, and when you take in account of the 20 million blacks who lost their lives during the middle passage, along with the 14 to 15 million that made it here and suffered out right horrors and atrocities, including being multilated, assassinated, and burned to death while hanging from a tree and had to endure this type of suffering for over 200 years. No other group in history has suffered like the African American.

The Jewish holocaust lasted five years, gays have always been in the closet and only individual gays have suffered when they were exposed, but African Americans suffered consistently, publicly, and openly for over 200 years. Just in the last 34 years, they have killed over 17 million blacks through abortions. Sorry Kevin. I understand and do not diminish the suffering of others whether it was one or one million, but the suffering of the African Americans is without precedent or comparison.

It is because of our suffering that our race can better appreciate and relate to these other groups. Having suffering as we did and having supporting other groups in their suffering - is why it is so sad to see a quality black woman like Ms Haskins being attacked today in 2007. Kevin give us a break man, you know better. If you were an outright racist, I would understand, but I don't believe you are.

Thank you for your sharing

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and my reply:

Thanks for your reply. I can understand why you would support Cheryl — she is smart, successful, articulate, and can serve as a role model. She certainly had my support in the beginning. But everyone deserves to know that she has made a career out of "defending marriage," regardless of who they feel about that activism. I'll be the first person to support an African American candidate who doesn't have that kind of political baggage. In fact, I just endorsed Greg Taylor on my blog.

Cheryl is really the person who should've known better. She should have known that her work on such a controversial issue would be a factor in her campaign. The day she became the Executive Director of the Allies for Marriage and Children group, she set herself on a collision course with those who oppose her political efforts.

I genuinely wish I could've been her supporter, rather than her detractor. But I think we all know what's going on here: this involves the intersection of politics and religion, and is about much more than just one woman running for city council; it's about a prolonged battle between fundamentalist Christians and secularism. There's no easy answer to bridging the divide between the opposing sides, but as long as rational people are willing to openly discuss the issues, and not resort to lies, violence, or hatred to make their arguments, our society will continue to function and prosper.

I wish you all the best,

Kevin

JimW said...

Dear “Am-I-Homophobic”:

As frightening as it is, I appreciate your posting. It scares me because you have obviously put a great deal of time into forming your opinions; however your conclusions defy logic.

Your example of hating drivers who “cut other drivers off” is a perfect illustration. Even though you say you “do not like” this behavior, you claim that you are not “driver-phobic”. In fact, I bet you support laws against that very “behavior”. You might even want the “violators” put in jail.

And for the other examples you provided, (i.e., adultery, indecency, etc.), despite your gracious tolerance of these behaviors, there are severe civil and criminal penalties, if violated. I can imagine that you support these penalties, as well.

Are you putting “being gay” in with all of these other criminal violations that you seem to be willing to tolerate? If so, then please remember this. There was a time in this great country when an interracial couple could get arrested just for walking down the street. Getting married was, of course, an even greater violation of the Law. Those loving couples were faced with the same bigotry that gay couples face now. It’s time for it to end.

I would be happy if you lived your life and I will live mine.

Renton Citizen said...

Another round..


You have handled this discussion very repectfully and intelligently and I commend you for that. But just because a person beleives that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, (as billions of persons believe worldwide - have believed such for centuries), it should not be a reason to come out and attack a person, neither should it be a point of controversy as you are attempting to do.

Contrary to what you stated. Cheryl has not made a career out of this issue, her career is in the area of education and the field of banking, so again your facts are wrong.

You mentioned Greg Taylor, did you know he was a born again Christian and the church that he was a member of, did not believe in same sex marriage? Ask Greg about Rev. Tony Morris (his/former pastor) and the statement he (Greg) made at the Dr. King Memorial Baptist Church a few weeks ago. If Greg supports same sex marriage, why didn't he tell that black congregation of his support when he spoke at their church. Was he being deceptive? Cheryl is a not a deceptive person everyone knows where she stands. She did not need your blog to expose her views, she stated her views publicly on several occasions. But yet you seem to support Greg and either he has been deceptive on this issue or he has got you fooled. Did you know the both Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and 90 plus percent of all black churches and ministers do not believe in same sex marriage. Do you condemn them also? Where is your blog about them? They are all involved in politics.

Secularist and Christians have always disagreed, so what's new about this? Both have tried to influenced each other. The biggest difference is that the secluar do not have the humanitarin track record that the Christians has, i.e. Salvation Army, United Good Neighbors, Red Cross, the nursing industry, thousands of hospitals worldwide, developments in third world countries, feeding the poor, opposition to slavery, support of Civil Rights, the abolitionist movement, starting black schools and colleges, the primary architects of the constitution, millions of charities and I can go on and on and on.

I know, you will probably refer to the Christian Crusades where the Christians got their butts kicked in all but one of them and you will probably mention the Catholic Priest as child molestors or the Jonestown massacre as though these are or were standard occurances within Christainity, but they are not. They were the exception - not the rule.

In my humble opinion, when the secluarist step to the plate and do as much for society as the Christians gave done, then we should respect their voice. If it were left up to the secluarist, my people would still be slaves.

Ms Haskins is not seeking a political office to spread Christianity, she is seeking a political office to fulfill the dreams of the citizens of Renton.

God Bless


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My reply:

I am not criticizing Cheryl's personal beliefs. I am criticizing her very public and outspoken professional work on an extremely divisive, hurtful, and emotional issue. I'm especially concerned with her group's opposition to the anti-discrimination and domestic partnership bills, as well as her public criticism of the Bellevue city workers' lawsuit. As with all politicians, people are entitled to know what things a candidate has been involved in, and where their financial support is coming from. If Cheryl had been publicly involved in any other schismatic issue — such abortion, illegal immigration, or school prayer — she would be subject to criticism, too.

As far as Cheryl not making a career out of her opposition to gay marriage, I know that she's had other jobs in her lifetime, and I'm not suggesting this has been her only career. However, she has certainly been focused professionally on this one particular issue for several years now, so I think that certainly qualified as a career, or at least a "new career."

Yes, I know that Greg Taylor is a member of the Christian Faith Center, and I think it's safe to assume that he's personally opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds. That's not a problem at all for me, because I respect his right to hold personal beliefs, and gay marriage has really never been high on my list of issues, anyway. I've talked to people who are very close to him, and they've said that he has no interest in mixing religion and politics on the city council. I've also seen an email he sent to a gay resident which outlined his stance on anti-gay discrimination. He has established a clear record for himself in the community, and none of his service record involved politicizing his personal beliefs about gay issues. Based on his record, it's clear that he will represent the interests of all Renton citizens. Cheryl does not have such a record to go on.

I do indeed know that many black leaders, especially those of the cloth, are opposed to gay marriage. Some have been vocal and political about their opposition, such as Ken Hutcherson, but most others have not made it a political cause, including Jesse Jackson. I do not condemn anyone who is personally against gay marriage or even domestic partnerships; I only criticize those who use their positions of authority to advance a divisive political agenda.

I really don't want to get the secular vs. religious debate... leave that to Sam Harris and Pat Roberston. I will tell you, though, that I very much respect the efforts of apolitical Christian charities.

Cheryl has opened some serious wounds with her work in opposition to gay issues, and she will carry that baggage with her wherever she goes. I know she's been involved in many positive causes, but I wish she'd chosen to focus her most recent efforts – and talents -- on something that doesn't divide people, but unites them and gives them hope. Cheryl, if you're reading this, I want you to know that I value you as a person, but I don't believe you're the right person for the city council, or any elected office.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Too extreme for Renton - the answer is still YES, Cheryl Haskins is not the right choice for Renton City Council. I am disappointed that those who support Cheryl suggest that Renton Citizen who started this blog may be racist - it's been clear since day one of this blog and in all of his writings that he is not racist.

City council members do their best work when they don't have prior single agendas and when council members don't have personal beliefs that they promote against others. Council candidates are most qualified when they are well acquainted with the city that they will serve as demonstrated by past leadership experiences and citizen involvement within the city. Cheryl Haskins is not the best candidate as defined by either of these statements.

Anonymous said...

I'm not from Renton but this is embarassing to your city.

It's especially embarassing to the anonymous person making all this hay about nothing.

Renton must be a tough place to live for people to spew this much venom.

I feel sorry for all the citizens of Renton to have to be exposed to this kind of website. Sad for them, really.

Renton Citizen said...

Thanks Kevin

It seems that you are just selective on which anti-same sex marriage people you will support. You should know that there are some gay activists that have a lot of respect for Cheryl, even though they may disagree on the issues. One in particular actually defended Cheryl's right to her belief and opinion.

Again, let me reiterate that Cheryl's beliefs are not the sentiments of a few but of the masses. You also need to know, that many of the pieces of legislation that you refer to, are duplications of laws that are already on the books - laws that are designed to protect all citizens and not just those with sexual orientations. We really do not need hate crime bills, because 99% of the behavior that is cover in hate crimes are covers in other civil laws. You do not understand that once you protect one type of behavior, in time, you will (eventually) be legally obligated to protect other behavior, behavior that you may not approve of.

Kevin, don't you think it is ironic that when blacks were beaten and lynched there were no hate crime bills? Judicial records reveal that the few individuals that were prosecuted for such horrific acts were prosecuted by laws that were already on the books, not by new laws. Those same laws would and do protect gays, they do not need new anti-discrimination laws.

To be honest with you, I can't think of one Christian (although I know there may be some), that wish gay people harm and hope that they are discriminated against, including Ken Hutch. But I know that there are millions of both Christians and non-christians that do not want their private bedroom behavior singled out for special protection nor do they want special legislation to cover heterosexual private bedroom behavior.

When I read your e-mail it keeps getting back to the gay issues. Even though you mentioned abortions in the context that you apparently support them, it is sad that you would support a system that has killed 17 million blacks, a system that was partly instituted by Margaret Sanger who believe that blacks were inferior and that their population should be diminished. From our time in Africa to the 1970's, blacks as a race, never saw abortions as answer to unwanted pregnacies.

If you want to work on pro-gay rights issues, you should do so without falsely conveying that Cheryl's life long goal is to harm gays or that she is going to use her political position to promote or impose her faith on others.

Finally, your e-mail implies that you have not had any direct conversations with Greg Taylor (nor have you had any direct conversation with Cheryl) but you are convinced by the words of others that Greg would not use his political position to advance the cause of Christianity. You know, they felt the same way about the Catholic candidate would do the same (John F. Kennedy), but it never happened. Even so, why is it ok for you to finance a blog to push your secluar/political beliefs on others - but is not ok for Christians share their religious beliefs with others? If you can provide a rational answer to this question I will end this discussion.

God Bless

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my response:

OK, there are too many points for me to address in your last message right now, but let's just say that I disagree with just about everything you said! :) I think I'm going to pass the baton (something Cheryl might say) to someone else who can continue the discussion here, preferably a person of color. I'm just too emotionally drained by the whole thing to spend another two hours writing about it.

I DO very much support Cheryl's right to spread her message, and I have the utmost respect for the fact that she hasn't used hateful language to make her points. I just think people need to be aware of her activism, so they can make an informed decision about her candidacy. If I'd worked for a gay rights organization and decided to run for office, I'm sure people would bring up my activism, too. That just politics.

My work is pretty much done here. I've been able to get information out in an honest, ethical manner, without attacking anyone's humanity. I can't say that everyone has been quite as ethical in their attacks of me, but I'm not going to hold any grudges against them, because I truly understand the emotional impact that these types of controversies have on people. Hopefully, the discussions with people such as you have encouraged people to examine their own prejudices and values, whichever side of the political spectrum they fall on.

Thanks again for having this conversation with me.

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear from a nut who is not quilified to walk my dog.