U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck made national news for a week after saying on Meet the Press that he believed same-sex attraction was a lifestyle choice and comparing homosexuality to alcoholism. He later stood by the statement even in the face of calls from gay activists, doctors and psychologists to retract them and even given the fact that the statements strongly supported assertions made by his detractors that his views are out of sync with the views of most Coloradans.
Debra Stone was one of the Coloradans calling for Buck to retract his comments. Stone has a gay son who suffered abuse as a teenager. As part of an emotional press conference last week, Stone asked Buck to meet her for coffee to discuss the issue. Buck didn’t agree to meet her but his campaign did send her an email in which it concedes Buck “may have mis-spoke.”
The Buck email:
From: “Ken Buck”
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 4:41:11 PM
Subject: Re: Deborah Stone’s Invitation to Coffee
Thank you for your response. Ken may have mis-spoke, but his desire is to serve the people of Colorado period. As the prosecuting attorney for Weld County, Ken was the only DA in the country to try a hate crime that involved a transgender individual and win. Too often comments are misunderstood and taken out of context, but the hope is that you will realize Ken’s commitment to Colorado and it’s citizens.
Please visit www.BuckForColorado.com for more information on where Ken stands on the important issues facing our country. While there, you can also sign up for email updates, see Ken’s online calendar and see how you can help us take back Colorado’s senate seat.
Ken Buck for Colorado
The Stone letter:
My name is Deborah Stone, and I have a wonderful 19 year old gay son, whom I cherish. My son was outed in 9th grade, and was told that he was a flawed and sick person.
For these reasons, I found Ken Buck’s recent comparison of being gay to alcoholism abhorrent, divisive, prejudiced, inflammatory, and personally offensive. I implore him to retract them.
While Mr. Buck’s remarks may have been made off the cuff, they contribute to the climate of bullying, hate and bigotry that turned my son into a social outcast and led to the recent suicides we’ve seen in the media over the last few weeks.
Language has power, and words matter. As a public official, Mr. Buck has a responsibility to avoid such gratuitously divisive statements. It is not the matter of a simple remark, but rather of human equality. This should never be a political wedge issue; it’s about human dignity.
Mr. Buck, I hope that your comments will open the door to a new understanding about equality. I personally invite you to a conversation over coffee, to discuss this very real issue. I hope you will take me up on this offer, as it is only through dialog that we can bridge our differences and move from understanding to acceptance of everyone. I look forward to meeting with you.
At the press conference organized by gay rights group One Colorado, Carlos Martinez, executive director of the GLBT Center Colorado, said he was dismayed by Buck’s comments. Martinez had worked with Buck during the Weld Country transgender Angie Zapata trial and had thought Buck had come to reckon with the facts related to sexual identity.
“Through the trial Buck was open to being educated on tansgender issues. We welcomed that from him. So it was very surprising to hear a comment from him like the one he made on [Meet the Press].”
Fred Sainz, who also worked with Buck during the trial and who is vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, told the Denver Post last week that he was similarly disappointed.
“I worked with Ken and got to know him over several months, and I found him to be open-minded and thoughtful,” he said. “His inartful word choice is at odds with the man I got to know. Do I believe that this is in his heart? No. But in many ways that makes it worse.”
Buck won a first-degree murder and hate crimes conviction in the case, drawing kudos from rights groups and the ire of conservatives who believe the hate crimes category sets up an unequal legal system and, in the case of gay issues, may subject Christian organizations to prosecution.