My “no” vote on a resolution to declare June Gay, Lesbians, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month in Tuolumne County has raised some questions about what my vote means and the message I am sending.
Unfortunately, in their understandable disappointment over the outcome, folks who asked for the resolution did not hear what I was saying and believe that my message is that I do not care about or respect them. Not true.
Here’s part of an email I received this morning.
My wife and I voted for you in the last election, but now, sadly, we want our votes back. What on earth could have caused you to vote against Gay Pride? Homophobic fear? Fear of backlash from bigots in the community? What? It was just a vote to give a small section of the community something to feel good about. What’s to fear in that?
When we cast our votes for you we thought we were voting for someone who was at least somewhat progressive, who cared about the community, about its people, and about bringing us ALL together. Unfortunately, your vote against the Gay Pride issue has shown us otherwise. We are very disappointed in you, in the Board of Supervisors, and in the County in general for not having the foresight to see that a vote against Gays is basically a vote against all of us. You may not like them, you may not understand them, or want them around. But guess what…they are here, and they are not going away. Division has never solved any problem, and it won’t work here.
Part of the problem with the message this writer heard and chose to believe is that there are other reasons besides homophobia to vote no on the resolution. It is important that anyone who is angry and anyone who is pleased with my vote understands what no means to me. It does not mean that I discriminate and it certainly does not mean that I agree with or condone those who do. Here’s my response to this morning’s email.
I am really glad you wrote. I am also glad that you live where you can watch the Board meeting on Saturday (on Channel 8) to hear the whole discussion and what I said. Unfortunately the newspaper condenses all the discussion down to 1 or 2 sentences. Will you commit to watching the agenda item before you judge me? A big part of my campaign rested on gathering all the facts before I make a decision – I do that – and I hope you do the same.
I certainly understand your disappointment and that of the folks that attended to ask the Board for the resolution. The resolution was presented so that anyone who does not support it (for whatever reason) was characterized as taking the opposite view. Not true for me. I don’t fit in that characterization and said I do not discriminate and won’t tolerate lack of respect for gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgender individuals.
I have no difficulty myself or as a Board honoring Jerry Cadotte’s accomplishments on behalf of those with AIDS or the PFLAG representative’s (I can’t think of her name right now) tireless efforts on behalf of those she cares about. My point is that we need to honor individuals for accomplishments…
Again, no means something very different than the message that was attributed to it. My vote was not against anyone but for attributing recognition of individual accomplishment, instead of attributing recognition for belonging and characteristics.
Individuals – regardless of affiliation and orientation – are valuable role models, demonstrate leadership, educate those afraid of difference and diversity, and serve as a source of great pride to this supervisor and to the entire community.