More than a year ago I took to task US Senator Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) for refusing to speak to his state’s main LGBT newspaper.
Bay Windows had been dogging the relatively moderate GOPer for his refusal to speak to it or any other LGBT media outlet since his election in 2010.
Well, in last week’s April 4 edition, Brown finally spoke to his LGBT constituents, sort of. He penned a 636-word column that ran on the Bay Window’s front page.
In it he explains why he was one of a handful of GOP senators to vote for repeal of the anti-gay military policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And while he spends most of the piece talking about fixing the economy and creating jobs, no where does Brown come out in support for passing a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act to protect LGBT workers from being fired based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Nor does he call for repeal of the anti-gay federal Defense of Marriage Act, which not only disallows the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples in his state but also costs countless LGBT families in numerous ways. And that takes money out of their wallets that could be spent on local businesses in their communities, giving a boost to the economy Brown says he is so worried about.
In fact, he refuses to pledge to support any specific LGBT rights bills:
“I don’t come before you with a checklist of items promising that I will be an advocate for you on each and every one of them. My opponent has already started down that road, promising to support everyone’s pet project. That’s not the way I have ever operated,” wrote Brown, a former Cosmo nude cover model who faces a tough re-election fight against consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren. “But I will go to work for you on the most important issue facing us—getting this bad economy working again and creating jobs.”
Due to the op-ed from Brown, the New England weekly LGBT paper discontinued running a box on its front page that had been counting down Brown’s days of silence for refusing to talk to Bay Windows. The column also came after the paper had done a Q&A with Warren.
In yesterday’s edition Bay Windows Publisher Sue O’Connell explained how the letter from Brown came about:
“On Feb. 12, 2012, I visited a stop on the Senator’s campaign schedule and we had a pleasant conversation. He connected me with a staffer. Bay Windows removed the countdown box from the front page. Senator Brown submitted his guest opinion,” wrote O’Connell.
While Brown gets kudos for at least submitting his letter, it is still a far cry from granting an interview with a Bay Windows reporter and answering questions about his position on numerous LGBT issues. And it doesn’t seem to merit being published on the front page, since it reads more like a letter to the editor.
Based on the comments posted to the paper’s website and letters it received from readers after it published Brown’s piece, many readers agree it is not equivalent to being interviewed.
JIM JACOBS [ Apr 05 ] – This — offering an opinion piece — is all very well and good, but its content (simply a vote-for-me request for votes) and its timing (well, certainly not offered as a means of connecting with a constituency; rather it’s just that it is election season and Mr. Brown is in a race for office against a credible contender, Ms. Warren) … well, thanks Mr. Brown but I am unimpressed. Very unimpressed.
Janice Josephine Carney, president New England LGBT Veterans Inc., not only took the paper to task for its decision on how to play the letter but also Brown for its lack of content.
On principle, I was disappointed to see the smiling picture of Sen. Brown on the front page of the April 5th issue of Bay Windows. I would have been happy to read an actual interview with editors from Bay Windows; but, after his ignoring our community since his election, to print his reelection letter is not right,” wrote Carney.
Later she added, “The fact that in his letter he did not commit on the ENDA or DOMA is an insult to the readers of Bay Windows. Comparing taking a stand on how a senator will vote on a bill to “promising to support everyone’s pet project” is more political doubletalk. I sincerely hope that the next time I see a picture of Sen. Brown on the front page of the Bay Windows that it is part of a thoughtful interview forcing Sen. Brown to take a stand on how he will vote on bills that affect the LGBT community.”
He did get some praise from Bay Windows readers. One conflicted commentator wrote:
BOSGUY [ Apr 04 ] – Senator Brown, Thank you for finally addressing the LGBT community. Whether I agree with your views or not, your resounding silence since taking office had been disconcerting; especially in light of your predecessor who maintained such open dialog with the LGBT community.
I would like to think that there can be more dialog with you now that you are in full campaign mode. I hope that the sole extent of your interaction with the LGBT community in MA does not begin and end with a guest opinion; that would seem a bit hollow.
I still stand by my sentiments from over a year ago that anyone seeking public office, especially one as important as a US Senate seat, should have the courage to address questions from their local LGBT press, no matter if what they have to say may not be what that news outlet’s readers want to hear.