Saturday, March 04, 2006

Frank And Baldwin Re-Affirm Support For Carson


Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) re-affirmed their support for the re-election of 7th District Congresswoman Julia Carson (D) tonight. According to a front-page story in the March edition of The Word, Carson's Democratic opponent, Kris Kiser, met and consulted with both Frank and Baldwin, two openly gay members of Congress, before launching his bid for Congress. The story read:

Kiser noted that he'd done a great deal of consulting before making his nnouncement for the 7th District seat, including meeting and consulting with the two out gay members of congress: Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin, both of whom he noted had good ideas and were a pleasure to spend time with.

The comment could easily leave readers with the impression that Frank and Baldwin encouraged Kiser's candidacy against Carson by virtue of the fact that Kiser met to discuss his challenge to Carson with Frank and Baldwin.

In a telephone conversation this evening, Frank spokesperson Steve Adamske told Advance Indiana editor Gary R. Welsh that Frank "unequivocally supports the re-election of Rep. Carson." In an e-mail communication to Welsh, Baldwin spokesperson Jerilyn Goodman adds, "Congressman Tammy Baldwin is not endorsing Mr. Kiser's candidacy. She is a strong supporter of Rep. Carson who is a champion of the LGBT community." Adamske and Goodman neither confirmed nor denied that the two congresspersons had met with Kiser to discuss his candidacy as he indicated in The Word.

As we reported yesterday, in addition to the front-page story in The Word, Indianapolis' largest GLBT newspaper also endorsed Kiser's candidacy over Carson. The reaction within the GLBT community to the endorsement has been largely negative. Civil rights activist Sheila Kennedy, who contributes monthly columns to The Word, posted a critical rebuke of the endorsement at Bilerico, accusing The Word's editor, Ted Fleischaker, of endorsing Kiser simply because he was gay. Kennedy wrote, in part:

As many readers of this blog know, I write a monthly column for the Word, a midwestern gay newspaper. I really like the editor, although I often find myself in disagreement with positions he takes, and/or with his reasons for taking those positions. This is emphatically such a time, and while my next column will set out the reasons for my dissent, it won't appear until March. So with your indulgence, I'm using this post to explain my concerns . . . When we engage in "identity politics"--supporting people because they are members of our "tribes"--we are perpetuating the attitudes that support inequality. If gays don't support their friends, they deserve their enemies.

In a posted comment to our earlier report, Fleischaker reacted sharply to our report in defending The Word's actions. He wrote:

Sorry, Gary and the other nay-sayers but my phone's been ringing off the hook with people saying "it's about time" Julia had an openly gay challenger and she was retired by the voters.The callers (and those who stopped me when I was delivering yesterday to discuss Kris) are also thanking The Word and I for an early endorsement. I might be deluding myself as usual, but I do think our backing will sway some votes or at the very least get people to consider asking some hard questions. This is, afterall, what we are supposed to do as a newspaper for the community isn't it? We also welcome letters to the editor on our editorial, and will publish what's received---good or bad.

Fleischaker took strong exception to Advance Indiana's inference that the Kiser campaign's decision to purchase full-page ads in The Word had in any way influenced the paper's editorial decision to endorse Kiser over Carson. He said:

Another point--- the editorial was mostly written and the story interview 100% done before we heard anything from anyone at the Kiser campaign about an ad (they called us, we did not ask them), so the snide and quite uncalled-for comment that the endorsement was in any way because they bought ad space is just more pettiness on your part and is quite sad. We have had politicians in the past we've endorsed with not a penny spent here, and others we have not endorsed who did buy ads from us (despite a lot of hullabaloo from Marla Stevens when we declined endorsing one whose ads she paid for some years back!).

With that said, Advance Indiana apologizes to Fleischaker for questioning the motivation behind the newspaper's editorial decision to endorse Kiser. We would note, however, that virtually every edition of The Word is peppered with what many would consider "snide and uncalled-for" comments about various members of the GLBT community. As an example, an item in this month's edition of The Word derogatorily refers to former IE Region 8 Chairman Bil Browning as a "one of the town's civil rights spokesmen (even if mostly self appointed)", in addition to other personal information we choose not to write in this space. We hope Fleischaker accepts our apology and takes into consideration the feelings of other persons in the community in the future when he puts his thoughts to pen.

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