Simon campaign flops (again) on gay issues
As Weblog noted last week, some religious conservatives in California were outraged by gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon's responses to a questionnaire by the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of homosexual party members. In it, Simon said he would declare a Gay Pride Day, wouldn't try to overturn existing laws allowing homosexuals to adopt children, and would support domestic partnership laws, so long as they're not based on sexual orientation.
California papers apparently have their doubts. Both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times quote from e-mails sent by Ron Rogers, a senior adviser who formerly managed Simon's campaign (the Chronicle doesn't name him). "I have to get this version to Bill now," he wrote in the August 9 message. "Please review and let me know if you have any MAJOR objections. Again, please do not share with anyone else."
"I was told that the reason it was delayed was so (Simon) could review it completely," Dave Hanson, president of Log Cabin California, told the Chronicle. "The campaign had it 24 days."
Asked about this message, Simon told the Chronicle, "I never saw [the questionnaire]. I never saw a draft. I know it makes me look like I'm not on top of this." But some critics wonder why Simon, who has been smeared as a religious extremist throughout the campaign, wouldn't take an interest in such a potential powderkeg? Surely he knew the Log Cabin Republicans would come questioning.
Rogers wouldn't tell the Times whether he gave the draft response to Simon. But Sal Russo, Simon's top political adviser, accepted the blame. "I looked at it hastily and never caught the Gay Pride Day questions," he told the Chronicle. "It was solely my mistake in letting it go out." Critics wonder why Simon's top political adviser only skimmed a 24-question survey by one of the most controversial organizations in American politics.
Simon is a political newcomer, but he's already used "plausible deniability" many times. In the past, he's also claimed that he was unaware of controversial programming at Trinity Broadcasting Network—even though he is vice chairman of PAX TV—and never heard of murderer James Kopp, who's on the FBI's most wanted list in the death of abortionist Barnett Slepian.
Simon's response has at least wooed back Lou Sheldon and his Traditional Values Coalition, who raised a fuss over the questionnaire. "I am fully satisfied that he is the person that he said he is in terms of pro-family beliefs," Sheldon told the Chronicle. The coalition's website says "Support Bill Simon" at the top of the screen.
The other organization that lamented the questionnaire, the Campaign for California Families, isn't as quick to re-embrace the candidate. Its website links to Times and Chronicle articles where Simon has backtracked, but an article says he's still off track:
Here's the latest: Bill Simon has issued a September 1 letter that unfortunately leaves intact nearly all of his responses to the homosexual Log Cabin questionnaire. In his letter, Simon did not clarify things by repudiating or retracting his official responses on the questionnaire … such as additional marriage benefits for "domestic partners," homosexual adoptions, and empowering homosexual activists in the Republican Party? What Simon did NOT say in his letter is very telling.
In fact, on the radio Simon has supported domestic partnerships, so long as they're not based on sexual orientation (a 1999 Christianity Todayforum did the same). And Weblog is pretty sure that wasn't Russo doing a Simon imitation.
Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act:
- House Republicans weigh church politics measure | Bill would give churches more leeway to engage in political activities and allow political statements from the pulpit while maintaining tax-exempt status (The Washington Times)
- Churches must choose: no politics or pay taxes | The tax code as it stands now hardly bans political speech (Cathleen Falsani, Chicago Sun-Times)
- Mixing God and politics | Congress is voting on a bill to let religious leaders endorse candidates from the pulpit. The right can't lose: If it fails, they'll have a campaign issue to use against opponents in November (Michelle Goldberg, Salon.com)
Politics and law:
- Faith used politically risks destroying those it should protect | Every community has the right to uphold a traditional way of life and the faith which underpins it, but every community equally should be allowed to decide in a democratic manner whether the rigid views of an unchanging church still represent its best interests (Magnus Linklater, Scotland on Sunday)
- Don't pass this vilification bill, say church leaders | Overwhelmingly negative response means the legislation is unlikely to proceed (The Advertiser, Adelaide, South Australia)
- Maui County should clarify religion issue | Constitutional questions deriving from Maui County's rejection of a church's plan to add a chapel onto a building on agricultural land will remain indefinitely because of the county's muddled signals (Editorial, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)
- Women claim a victory at U.N. summit | Delegates manage to get the finalized document reopened to add words on rights and reproductive health (Los Angeles Times)
- In government, no substitute for conscience | Charles Colson and George McGovern agree: character trumps legislation (Godfrey Sperling, The Christian Science Monitor)
- Iran grants first 'blood money' to a Christian | The ruling was part of moves to give Iran's non-Muslim minorities the same right as Muslims to have killers pay their victims' families to avoid execution (Reuters)
- Catholic Air Force captain sues military service over accommodation | Ryan Berry says he was suspended from certain duties and later permanently decertified because he wanted to avoid spending long hours in a small underground bunker with a woman (Religion News Service)
- Earlier: Sex and the Married Missileer | How an Air Force lieutenant's acknowledgement of his human weakness became a flashpoint in the culture wars (First Things/Christianity Today, Feb. 4, 2000)
- Hard for family to forgive abortion clinic | Lawsuit filed over acceptance of minor's fake ID (Houston Chronicle)
- Court brings contempt charges against church | Court says Uniting Church's treatment of employees was calculated to interfere with the administration of justice (The Sydney Morning Herald)
Canadian Anglican rift:
- Conservative Anglicans on brink of split | Opponents of same-sex unions say Vancouver diocese in turmoil (The Vancouver Sun)
- Anglican leader opposes split diocese | Archbishop vows to stop 'extremist' conservatives (Vancouver Sun)
- Top Anglican vows to halt 'flying bishop' maneuver | David Crawley says he will never allow an outside bishop to run a competing diocese in Greater Vancouver to serve only conservative members of the Anglican Church in Canada (Times Colonist, Victoria, Canada)
- Conservative Anglican leaders convene to protest same-sex blessing (Canadian Press)
Ministry and missions:
- True believers | Televangelist Benny Hinn turns MCI Center into a revival tent for a healing crusade (The Washington Post)
- Solace for job seekers | Congregations offer unemployed assistance and chance to reconnect (San Francisco Chronicle)
- City church opens home to give addicts a place to make a clean start | Woman's struggle led her to idea for Nazareth House (The Baltimore Sun)
- Counselors treat patients with God's Word | Scriptures said to be sufficient for healing mental-health woes (The Toledo Blade)
- Good enough for bank notes but not for charity | The Clydesdale Bank, which uses Victorian missionary Mary Slessor's virtuous image on its £10 notes, is now refusing to help the Scottish trust set up in her name to carry on her work in Nigeria—arguing that charity begins at home (Scotland on Sunday)
- Minister's small, speedy group tends to world's hungry | Stop Hunger Now has five staff workers, but managed to distribute about $10 million in aid to nearly 20 countries last year (Associated Press)
- Architecture students set out to rebuild village of tolerance | Organization aims to reconstruct nonsectarian institutions in area stricken by communal tensions (The Daily Star, Lebanon)
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