When Politics Turns Personal

This weekend the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a great piece by David Seitz, a member of their Editorial Reader Advisory Committee.

In “When politics turns personal,” David writes:
One of the nice things about public debate in a civilized country is how well folks can separate political disagreement from personal disrespect.
He talks about how, in his experience, this generally applies even to the issue of the civil unions and marriage ban—one that is hurtful to him personally.

But David had a different experience when meeting with his state senator, Tom Reynolds.
In September 2004, I attended a listening session with Reynolds organized by my fellow congregants regarding the civil unions and marriage ban. Reynolds insisted that there would be dire consequences for Wisconsin if the ban were rejected; he and his staff were the only supporters of the ban in the room.

Near the end of the meeting, I stood up and reminded the senator that he had spoken at my Eagle Scout ceremony. I went on to point out that the values of commitment, community and self-respect I had cultivated as a child were totally compatible with my sexual orientation.

Like everyone else at the meeting, I listed my name, address and opposition to the ban on a card that was collected by a member of Reynolds' staff.

A few weeks later, in an envelope from his Senate office, I received a reading from Reynolds on "reorientation" therapy, a discredited, shameful pseudo-science that operates under the assumption that, through Jesus and prayer, folks can somehow become "ex-gay."

Attached was a handwritten note that said: "Hi Dave. I thought you and your family might find this interesting. Tom."
David goes on to say that he and his family were both outraged and afraid. After some time reflecting on Senator Reynolds’ actions he writes:
For the record, I do sincerely respect Reynolds' conservative Christianity and political beliefs. I love that this is a country that's big enough and free enough for folks like him and folks like me to live as neighbors.

But that level of freedom and civilization depends on the ability of our government leaders to separate political disagreement from personal disrespect.
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At 12:52 PM, Blogger Communitygal said...

This is shocking! Wow, all the more reason to lend support to Sullivan, who is running for the seat currently held by Reynolds. The district is moderate, and Sullivan has a chance.


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