(This guest post comes to us from Ray Jencar. Ray is a former teacher and current grad student at the University of Louisville. He hopes someday, like Socrates, to corrupt the minds of youth. Ray has guest posted before on the Project. ~Alex)
What is on the minds of Kentuckians as they march to vote in the general election?
Gays and the Ten Commandments.
Over the weekend the race between Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher, seeking re-election, and his opponent, Democrat Steve Beshear intensified in some very odd and possibly illegal ways. People here received anonymous voice messages linking Beshear to the gay rights advocacy group C-FAIR, which has come out in support of Beshear because he opposes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Courier-Journal, a little rag the locals optimistically refer to as a newspaper, reports that the tactics used by the anonymous Fletcher supporters (the Fletcher campaign and the state Republican Party deny any involvement) are “a possible violation of state campaign finance laws, which requires disclosure of who paid for them.”
Beshear, for his part, tried to distance himself from C-FAIR, in spite of their support of his campaign. Beshear used automated calls to assure voters that he:
opposes gay marriage, that he comes from a family of Baptist preachers, and that voters should not believe the “lies” Fletcher, a Republican, is spreading about him.”
Most alarming for Kentuckians, apparently, is not so much the disclosure of the people behind the anonymous messages, but the exposure to the homosexual lifestyle. One parent expressed his concern to the CJ
What angered him most was that his 5-year-old son answered the phone. “I had to tell him what a homosexual was,” he said, “I don’t have a problem with that but I didn’t think he was ready for it…and to hear it from a political ad.”
Even the local Log Cabin republicans have denounced Fletcher. Jimmy Lasalvia, president of the local chapter tells the CJ
Gov. Fletcher is going to lose decidedly tomorrow and these anti-gay tactics are not going to save his campaign. It’s pathetic.
Fletcher’s running mate, Robbie Rudolf, in reference to singer Pat Boone’s endorsement, referred to Beshear and his running mate, Dan Mongiardo, as “a couple of San Francisco treats.” Local conservative talk radio WGTK has been airing the ads about Bashear's C-FAIR endorsement that have also appeared on an urban-format station. Rev. Jerry Stephenson, chairman of the Values Coalition U.S.A., which helped pay for the radio ads, told the CJ
We live in the United States of America and a person has a right to practice homosexuality if that’s what they choose to do. The problem is the homosexual community is attacking our faith community.
But not to worry, the governor, for the time being, is on the job. A federal judge ruled yesterday that a display of historical documents which included the Ten Commandments could be displayed at the state Capitol. The display—set in the Capitol Rotunda as of yesterday afternoon—contains ten documents including the Magna Carta, the preamble to the state constitution and the Ten Commandments, which had been donated this month by Rev. Herschel Walker of the Hopewell Baptist Church in Corbin. The Reverend’s intent was not political
—perfect timing being purely a matter of coincidence—but rather educational: “This is a great teaching tool to teach something about the foundation of our law and government." The ruling yesterday is in direct contrast to (or violation of) two previous rulings in 2000 and 2006 barring the display outside the state Capitol of a large tablet on which the Ten Commandments was written. Beshear’s spokeswoman, Vicki Glass, said:
[Fletcher’s] pulling out all the stops in an attempt to distract voters from his four years of failed leadership and from the real issues of bringing honesty and integrity back to the people of Kentucky.
Honesty and integrity, maybe. Fairness and equality, not so much.
[Update: Bashear beat Fletcher 59-41! Good times in the KY as homophobia didn't win. Except that it kinda did. ~Alex]