When I first heard Michael Carr was being courted by the Republican Party to run against state Sen. Pat Steadman, I asked him, “are you sure you can handle the backlash? You do know what the gay mafia did to poor Brian Carroll, and he’s one of their own.”
In case you missed it: Brian Carroll, a gay vet who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, announced last year he was going to challenge state. Rep. Andy Kerr in the Democratic primary. Gay Democrats, sitting lawmakers, executive directors, political operatives and board chairmen launched a full-scale attack on Carroll, letting him know: Kerr was their man.
So, now we have a gay Republican running against a gay Democrat. And it’s not just any gay Democrat – it’s Pat Steadman. A man who has been working for our community since before Amendment 2 was passed by Colorado voters; a man who twice sponsored the Colorado Civil Union Act; a man who, if re-elected, could very well become the first openly gay man to serve as president of the state senate.
Am I upset? You better believe it. But not with Michael Carr.
Allow me to make a couple of things crystal clear.
First, I have never, nor will I ever be affiliated with any political party. As a journalist, my neutrality is something I take very seriously.
Secondly, I am so serious about my neutrality that I’ve never publicly, nor privately, expressed my opinion on the Colorado Civil Union Act.
Some might argue it’s impossible to be unbiased. And they’d be correct. As a human being, as a reporter, I approach each and every story from my own perspective. I get to choose how I frame the story.
But I do my very best to exercise tricks of the trade to present fair and accurate reports in every story. Do I, sometimes, get it wrong, miss something? Absolutely. But, I’ve always tried to own up to those mistakes and make it right.
Why am I sharing all of this?
One of the advantages of remaining neutral is the ability to – when necessary — play referee. And for the first time since joining Out Front, the time for me to publicly take a stand.
Within minutes of breaking the news that a GOP vacancy committee was expected to appoint Carr, a happily civil unionized Illinois transplant, to the ballot, I was flooded with emails, private Facebook messages and public — sometimes violent, albeit figuratively — comments. I was also pointed to a few select Facebook streams.
I can’t remember a time I was more ashamed of my fellow gays.
I’m not about to name names or even share specific comments. That won’t do us any good. This community is small enough — and it’s even smaller on Facebook — that if you want to find out who said what, it won’t take you very long.
The thing is: Our community has come too far, yet not far enough for us to treat this historic race like any other.
Regardless of political affiliation, we should be proud of Carr and the GOP members who believe he would make a fine sate senator. His appointment most likely wouldn’t have happened two years ago. And if we were in almost any other state it probably couldn’t even happen today.
It’s Republicans like Carr who have helped moved the Republican Party closer toward not just tolerance but outright equality.
The race between Steadman and Carr should be one about issues — not their Grindr habits, fetishes and kinks or favorite watering holes.
I know this is politics, and by its very nature things are going to get dirty. But there is a way to be both supportive and critical.
If you don’t support Carr or the GOP, that’s fine. Don’t vote for him. But know this: Tearing him down won’t make Steadman a better incumbent. And it does nothing for your character.
Oh, there is one thing I forgot to share: I can sleep easily at night knowing no matter who wins the state Senate 31 race, I’ll be represented by an out-and-proud gay man.