Sunday, January 25, 2009

Portland Mayor is Not Resigning

And I am so glad for that. Since this story about Portland's newly elected openly gay mayor, Sam Adams, broke last week, we discussed it quite a bit on the show, but I'd not had a chance to write about it here. I've thought about it a lot and spoke with a lot of listeners of various points of view. I can understand why many are disappointed and even lost respect for him as a person and as a gay role model. But the man did nothing illegal, nor is he charged with any crime.

He lied, they charge. But not all lies by politicians are created equal: Lying about embarrassing aspects of one's own sex life when it's not relevant and is no one's business -- and is being targeted in a political smear -- does not have any bearing on how you will govern or how effective you can be. We went through this with Bill Clinton. You'd think progressives and gays -- some of whom called for his resignation -- would have learned this. I'm happy to report, however, that much if not the majority of the Oregon LGBT community seems to be behind him, judging from the press releases being sent out and the large rally in his support outside City Hall in Portland the other night.

Sure, this incident raises questions about his responsibilities, about mentoring, about older gay men and younger gay men. Judging from the couple of interviews he gave, he seemed to be in a lot of denial and dealing with a lot of issues personally. These are all issues we need to get into as a people, and we surely will. It was stupid and ethically wrong.

But it was not anything that rises to the level of resignation and has nothing to do with how he governs and how effective he has been or will be unless people allow the media and the opponents to make that happen. The calls for him to resign, particularly from some in the LGBT community, are pretty shameful. Some of our greatest gay heroes -- like Barney Frank and Gerry Studds -- were once at the center of scandals that involved far more serious actions (prostitution and sex with an underage Congressional page, respectively) and rather than cave in to the right-wing puritans, they stayed on and fought. And it was to the benefit of all of us.