Friday, September 21, 2007

Boy Scouts, Mitt Romney and a Night of 1,000 Unanswered Questions

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2007 at 2:16 PM

Republican Ward 2 City Council candiate Lori Oien missed a fine time at the Equality Arizona candidate's forum last night. According to organizers, Oien recinded the invite a week ago.

Too bad for us. We'll probably never know how she feels about LGBT issues, or if she has a gay friend.

The forum's sponsor, Equality Arizona, helped defeat Proposition 107 in 2006, which would have banned gay marriage and domestic-partnership benefits.

Candidates were asked about LBGT issues, like how they feel about a federal amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and woman, and even whether or not they know anyone, you know, gay. If scared of a mostly LBGT audience, Oien didn't need to be: Two other Republican cadidates joined the table: Mayor Bob Walkup and estate planner Daniel Spahr. Walkup faces Green Party candiate Dave Croteau, and Spahr is up against city council incumbent Shirley Scott in Ward 4.

Walkup and Spahr had a chance to show that they aren't your typical Republican candidates, with Spahr going so far as to read a statement of apology for nasty anti-gay comments those other Republicans seem to make from time to time, especially during those election seasons.

While last night could have separated the good and the bad, it actually gave a glimpse of the cluelessness of some candidates regarding LBGT issues--despite the fact that everyone had loads to say about diversity and equality. Some candidates didn't really answer the questions and found those written statements on diversity super handy.

Green Party write-in candidate Beryl Baker, running against Democrat Regina Romero in Ward 1, particularly relied on her notes. Baker seemed stumped on LBGT-related questions, and when asked if she had been involved in defeating 107 and if she knew anyone LBGT, Baker said she wasn't aware of 107. She said she was focused on local issues and her neighborhood (I guess from a Green Party perspective, Prop. 107 wasn't a local issue), but yes, she has a few gay aquaintences.

The only candidates to give their two-cents on what presidential candidates they supported were Walkup and Spahr: Sen. John McCain and Mitt Romney, respectively.

"I think we should really give a close look at Romney," Spahr told the crowd. (Now I know what car Spahr drives--the one with the Romney 2008 bumbersticker that forced a double-take on the walk into the El Pueblo Community Center.)

Although Rodney Glassman, Oien's Democrat opponent, started his opening statements with a nicey, nicey moment--giving a balloon boquet to Romero and getting the audience to sing Happy Birthday (awww)--he faced audience wrath as he defended his seat on the local Boy Scouts of America board. The Eagle Scout was told he should resign from the scouts. He responded he felt he could change the system from inside.

I guess that no matter how many times you bring out your liberal credentials--like working for Raul Grijalva-- things like the Boy Scouts can still rub people the wrong way. The Boy Scouts national office doesn't allow openly gay scouts or leaders to participate. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the organization's policy when a gay Eagle Scout took the group to task for revoking his adult membership.

Oien, where were you? You missed a nice time to let us know how you feel about diversity, Prop. 107 and even issues like water and development. Thanks to Equality Arizona for the candidate show. Even if it wasn't about who is good and who is bad, at times it sure was fun to see who is full of cuacha.