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Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Faulkner gets rebuked from group for comments

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County, a political committee that supports gay, bisexual and transgender people, didn't take long to respond to comments made by Gershom Faulkner on Friday.

Faulkner, who is challenging incumbent Wengay Newton in the race for City Council District 7, told Bay Buzz that he has changed the way he talks about gay rights issues. He said his comments in 2007 about the "gay lifestyle" were insulting to those who believe that they didn't choose to be gay and that sexual preference is a matter of biology.

Yet Faulkner wouldn't comment on whether he supports civil unions between gay people. He said he wouldn't endorse the annual proclamation touting the St. Pete Pride celebration until he reads it because he doesn't want to "contradict who I am or my Christian beliefs."

The Stonewall Democrats, which supported Newton's campaign that defeated Faulkner in 2007, responded later that day with this statement:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  May 20, 2011

Statement from the Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County regarding Gershom Faulkner’s Anti-Equality Position

 St. Petersburg, FL – The Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County have released a statement regarding the St. Petersburg Times article dated May 20, 2011 in the Bay Buzz*. 

 In 2007, Gershom Faulker made it clear that he was not supportive of the LGBT community. Mr. Faulkner’s quotes in this article make it apparent that his discriminatory views have not changed.  St. Petersburg is a City with residents of many different backgrounds, faiths, ethnicities, ages, and even sexual orientations and gender identities.  It is our position that discrimination of any kind is not acceptable, especially by City Leaders.

It’s incredibly important that we elect fair-minded leaders who understand and use their faith, whether it be Christian or other, to promote the goodness in people rather than using religion-based prejudices to divide, segregate, and condemn. With youth suicides and bullying making recent headlines, it’s frightening that Mr. Faulkner’s views about equality and discrimination (especially toward the LGBT community) have remained unchanged.   

Although Mr. Faulkner states that he considers his “earlier remarks to be insensitive”, he has not yet stated publicly that he feels all residents in the City of St. Petersburg deserve equal rights, and that discrimination of any kind is detrimental to the progress of this City.   This statement gives our organization the impression that he’s sorry that he said what he really meant, rather than expressing a discriminatory opinion that should not be held by someone who wants to serve the all the citizens of St. Petersburg. This is not the sign of positive leadership, rather a politician saying words that have no real meaning or weight. 

 We strongly encourage all fair-minded citizens to make a donation to Mr. Faulkner’s opponent, Council Member Wengay Newton, who has expressed that he desires to continue to serve ALL residents of St. Petersburg, regardless of their differences. 

 

-- Michael Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer
 

[Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2011 10:46am]

    

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