LGBT State Rep. David Richardson replies to John Stemberger’s fundraising fear-mongering gracefully

By : Billy Manes
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DavidRichardsonThanks to our friends at FloridaPolitics.com, we can stick a cup up against the virtual door and hear how a true political hero – in this case, State Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami, who happens to be gay – responds to dishonored Boy Scout (or whatever you want to call him: hate group leader, generally terrible person) John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council and Florida Family Action. Stemberger issued a backhanded compliment to Richardson a few days ago via FloridaPolitics.com. To wit:

Dear Rep. Richardson:

Since your election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2012 until now, I have always known your reputation as a legislator to be one of nothing but respect for the dignity of the institution, for the legislative process and for your fellow colleagues. Even those who firmly disagree with you on matters of public policy speak highly of you, of your talents as a legislator and the unique perspective you bring to the process.

However, after the tragic and despicable acts of evil which took place right down the street from my offices in Orlando June 12, I was both shocked to learn of your repeated statements accusing your fellow legislators of creating an environment that gives rise to such horrible violence when they speak out against any LGBT bills as bad public policy in the Legislature.

After the local NPR affiliate interviewed you, WFSU issued this report:

“Florida’s only openly gay legislator says Orlando’s mass shooting is an example of a deranged individual taking anti-gay political rhetoric to the “next level.” Democratic Rep. David Richardson of Miami Beach says attempts by religious conservatives to roll back recent gains in gay civil rights encourages extremists .… “[P]eople who are prone to committing violent acts are emboldened by speeches that they hear from policymakers that want to roll back our advances.”

When I respectfully confronted you on another NPR affiliate radio debate for linking vocal opposition to new LGBT laws with violent acts such as the ones that occurred in Orlando, you initially denied these statements — until I read your words back to you on the air. Then, instead of retracting or apologizing for these irresponsible remarks, you doubled down and repeated the same very offensive and incorrect argument again. In that interview you said:

“I absolutely do think that people are emboldened, by the comments of certain lawmakers whether they are reacting in a violent way …”

(You can read the rest of his tail tucking here).

Well, Richardson, our only gay hope in the legislature at the moment, didn’t take the comments lying down, first calling out Stemberger for his “open letter” public manner of speaking on the issue in the wake of the June 12 Pulse massacre, then laying it down with some hard policy confrontation. The full text of that you can read at floridapolitics.com here. (And you should). To wit:

“… History repeats itself. Public opinion of the LGBT community is changing rapidly, and millions of Americans have shifted towards full acceptance of the community and the belief that LGBT citizens should have their rights and opportunities recognized.

Being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender is not a “lifestyle” choice, but rather a normal variation of human sexuality and identity. The American Psychological Association declassified “homosexuality” as a mental disorder 43 years ago.

I understand that still today you and others cannot accept that being LGBT is anything other than a perversion. With that as background, let’s move on to your letter.

You have misrepresented my position, selectively quoted me, and mischaracterized the world as it exists. It is both clever and sad that you have chosen some of my words to include in quotes, and then encircled those comments with your own rhetoric to confuse your audience as to my statements and intentions. If your supporters look at your letter carefully, they may notice this trick.

Even a high school debate coach would be embarrassed that you left off the last two words of my quote you highlighted: “I absolutely do think that people are emboldened, by the comments of certain lawmakers whether they are reacting in a violent way …” You intentionally dropped the last two words of my quote – “or not.” Why would you do that? Perhaps, because it better tells the story you want your supporters to hear?

I stand by my original comment: “I absolutely do think that people are emboldened by the comments of certain lawmakers, whether they react in a violent way or not.” And, I was not just referring to Florida lawmakers.

I was speaking of all lawmakers – both federal and state. Remember the actions against the LGBT community in Indiana and North Carolina over the past few years.

I am happy to have a debate on any subject, including LGBT rights, but let’s be clear about what is “debate” and what is “hate.”

When a person is denied a job, a hotel room reservation, or service in a restaurant, simply based on their sexual orientation or gender identity that is not a debate point; that is hate!

When a parent kicks their LGBT child out of the house because they don’t approve of their “lifestyle,” that is not a debate point; that is hate!

And, when a parent refuses to identify and claim the dead body of their murdered LGBT child because they are ashamed of whom they are, that is not a debate point; that is hate!”

Thank you, Rep. Richardson. And get off your tiny soapbox, Stemberger. You’re embarrassing yourself.

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