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Voinovich: a homobigoted gem

One of our Blend regulars, ‘Bean, sent in a whale of a tale about the ignorant asshattery of Ohio Senator George Voinovich, and the shoddy treatment of one of his constituents, a friend of ‘Bean’s named Tim. Basically, Voinovich, in the name of all things holy regarding the sanctity of marriage, sent his constituent a letter lumping homosexuality in with the drug and criminal culture in America today.

That didn’t go over well with Ohioan Tim…

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Guest post by ‘Bean of Julien’s List

Today’s winner of “The Biggest Fart of them All!?” — Senator George Voinovich (R-OH)

Background

Who is Tim?

Just shy of 20 years ago, when I was 19, I lived in Dayton, Ohio where friends of mine introduced me to a pleasant young man named Tim (last name and present location withheld lest things get volatile because of what happened). The friends who introduced us were intent on fostering a budding romance and they were not disappointed. Despite my temper and both my acid tongue and pen, I was taken with Tim. He was kind, sweet, gentle, soft-spoken, intellectual, well-read, clean-cut, polite, and, most importantly, could tolerate (at least for a time) my abrasiveness.

Even a curmudgeon, or at least even a kinda-smart curmudgeon, knows a happy relationship is built on some consideration and understanding, not on acid words and actions.

In any case, we were no exception to most 19 year old couples: while we made the best go we could, the relationship did not last because, like most 19 year old couples, we were not mentally, emotionally, or socially ready for a life-long commitment. Time passed, as did words both bitter (mine) and kind (Tim’s), and life took us other places. Tim and I had fallen out of contact for a good many years when I decided to find him and make right what I said and did because . . . well, frankly, because Tim well-deserved the apology. Let’s be honest here: someone kind, sweet, gentle, soft-spoken, intellectual, well-read, clean-cut, and polite deserves in-kind in return. I owed him and I knew it.

Finding Tim to say “I’m sorry” reintroduced me to a man who is still very much kind, sweet, gentle, soft-spoken, intellectual, well-read, clean-cut, and polite. Today, I can also add well-educated, well-rounded, a children’s book author, a children’s librarian, a member of the prestigious children’s book award committee, a homeowner, a taxpayer, a truly good citizen . . . and a good spouse to his life-partner, Trent, with whom he lives in the Hate State Ohio.

Time and experience have just enriched Tim’s kind, contented nature. Today, Tim is a critically-thinking-ponderer of Buddhist Philosophy, an ethical vegetarian, a loving and indulgent uncle, and a quiet-but-passionate supporter of Ohio schools and libraries. In short, Tim lives a life one would expect to see of a children’s author, a children’s librarian, and a book award committee member.

Therefore, when Tim gets a bee up his bonnet and loses his temper? Even if you do not know Tim (because few if any of you will know Tim)? Take note: speaking for nearly 20 years of history, I have never seen Tim lose his temper. Really – I do mean “never.” He is, as I have illustrated, just not “that kind of guy.”

Tim gets a bee up his bonnet and loses his temper

What happened?

Given Tim is a thoughtful and mentally-collected gay man in a long-term, same-sex relationship within the borders of a Hate-State, he does pay attention to both Ohio and National politics. So when Tim, who can write circles around most people, got wind of the Federal Marriage Amendment going up for a vote, he typed out a thoughtful E-mail to Senator George Voinovich explaining that (a) Tim is a gay Ohio citizen, (b) he does not want to lose the precious-few rights he currently has,and (c) is actually a member working to CONTRIBUTE to, not just take from, his community.

A Voinovich staffer wrote Tim a smug E-mail where the staffer assured Tim that, in paraphrasing, “Voinovich will vote for the Federal Marriage Amendment because that Amendment is the proper, moral thing for Ohioans.”

So the calm, rational Tim grew slightly irked and just deleted the E-mail.

After a day, Tim decided to write a letter (the kind on paper) to Senator George Voinovich explaining, still-politely, how the Federal Marriage Amendment will hurt people in Ohio. Tim also pointed out the E-mail he got from Voinovich’s office was ham-handed.

This time, someone in Voinovich’s office noticed that Tim was persistent. It seems that, from the ball-point-pen scrawl at the bottom of the page, Voinovich himself signed the letter (form letter, cut-and-paste letter, or dictated letter we never really will know) . . . but what Tim got in his mailbox was a letter where the Good Republican Senator both subtly and overtly implies that GLBT folk are somehow responsible for drugs, sex, and criminal activity in our culture. Voinovich is not so reticent, however, about overtly blaming certain family issues in our culture on GLBT people.

Hard to believe? You can read it by clicking the letter image (or these links: 1 | 2):

A snippet:

I guess Voinovich can assure us, given American parents are working longer hours for lower wages in a climate not fostering savings or job security – direct results of trickle-down Republican economics supported by people like Voinovich – there are no OTHER sources of family problems in this country, other than just having “some deviant, criminal gay people around?” For example, issues such as parents working long hours for less take-home wages; under-funded schools; few if any after-school enrichment programs; insufficient dollars for community activities . . . these issues don’t have anything to do with the Good Senator’s concerns about Families and Children?

Of course not because in today’s climate, there are two givens: 1) The Republican is never wrong in the public persona and; 2) If things get ugly, blame the scapegoat.

Welcome to the Red-State role of GLBT citizens. I’m just waiting to hear Voinovich’s office called Tim to say, “step to the back of the bus now, Tim: your job as whipping-boy is done for now. And stay quiet or we’ll criminalize you people again like we did in the 1950 and slam your buggered, disease-infested ass in prison: no gay Ohioans on a prestigious book awards committee with US in charge!”

And then what happened?

Tim got mad. For the first time I can remember, in nearly 20 years, Tim got really, really, really mad. And he wrote this eloquent letter telling Voinovich off and he sent that letter to Voinovich.

July 14, 2006

Mr. George Voinovich
United States Senate
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3504

Dear George:

Thank you for your letter of June 9th in response to my e-mails. Either you (and your staff) truly do not read the correspondence your constituents send you or you draw a perverse pleasure from insulting us. I wrote to you to urge you to vote against S.J. Res. 40. It is not only a useless piece of pandering politics, but passing
it would be tantamount to writing prejudice into our nation’s Constitution.

I did not expect my opinions to sway yours. I did expect you to respect my opinions. Instead you sent me an e-mail followed by a letter patting yourself on the back for voting against my urgings. Is that respectful? Is it respectful for you to send me a letter which states that my desire to marry is a root cause of an increase in the national crime rate? Is it respectful for you to send me a letter that intimates that people like my partner and I are not moral, hard-working, or responsible enough to enter into a marriage? I do not have a huge circle of Gay and Lesbian friends, but those I know are more respectful, moral, and hard working than their heterosexual counterparts. We have to be.

All of the statements you use to excuse your vote are asinine. What exactly does the current heterosexual divorce rate have to do with same sex marriage? It only brings to light the fact that American marriage is NOT between one man and one woman. It is between one man and one woman, and then another woman and then another woman. We are suing for the right to have the stable, monogamous, recognized relationships that half of heterosexuals can’t seem to perfect. The majority decries our supposed promiscuity while indulging in serial monogamy themselves and denies us our right to marriage. 10% of the population is Gay or Lesbian. By not allowing us to marry YOU are keeping stable, legally recognized families from forming.

As a professional reviewer of Children’s Literature, a lecturer, and a practicing Children’s Librarian I spend my days educating future voters and helping them to choose what’s best to read. You can be sure that I will teach them to discern between a politician who has their interests and the country’s interests in mind and one whose record is so weak, his party’s policies so failed, that he must wave his votes on manufactured hot-button topics in the air in hopes that it will appear he is doing his job.

I hope your children and grandchildren live in my service area. They will get a much more enlightened and all-inclusive world view from their gay Children’s Librarian than they ever will from their bigoted, self-serving father and grandfather. And please, I don’t need any more e-mails or letters laced with insults. This is what that feels like.

Sincerely,
Tim
Your Constituent

But Tim then went one step further – he contacted a variety of news outlets to let people know what Ohio Senator George Voinovich had to say, just as illustrated here, to a gay Ohio citizen because Tim is really, really, really, really mad.

And who can blame Tim?

When your own elected representative (1) says you, a citizen represented by that person in office, are a criminal, a deviant, and a threat just for being who you are and then (2) gloats in personally rubbing your nose in that assessment of you being a criminal, a deviant, and a threat; despite your respectfully illustrating you are NOT a criminal, a deviant, or a threat . . . . Well, even the most kind, most sweet, most gentle, most soft-spoken, most intellectual, most well-read, most clean-cut, and most polite person with a good education and a well-rounded perspective . . .. Even the best children’s book author, the best children’s librarian, and the top member of the prestigious Newberry Award Committee, who, despite being so damn busy, keeps the nicest house on the block and submits the neatest tax forms to the state, on-time, every year, would most assuredly lose his cool.

So what should I do?

Well, you can forward this link around to people you know. Let them come to the Blend and read Voinovich’s asshattery first-hand.

You can also link to Voinovich’s website (http://voinovich.senate.gov/contact/index.htm) and, via either the form or a letter, share the love a bit. After all, Voinovich made his views clear don’t you think we should return the favor?

Makes me think the Senators Serbian background (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Voinovich) may have come from the school of thought that helped create another Serb with some wonderfully deep-seated prejudices, too (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slobodan_Milosevic).

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding