Gay candidate target of late campaign call

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair pledged in his re-election campaign that he would not make an issue of the fact that his opponent is openly gay.

But that didn't stop someone else from doing it.

Democratic challenger Kevin Beckner was the subject of an recorded campaign call that drew attention to his sexual orientation on the eve of the election. In the recorded message, conservative political activist David Caton claimed Beckner would seek to legalize gay marriage in Hillsborough County if elected.

Beckner, 37, a financial planner, says he is not running to promote a gay agenda. He intends to focus on quality-of-life issues, such as affordable housing, the economy and transportation.

As for Caton's phone message, Beckner said: "It is an obvious act of desperation on behalf of my opponent and David Caton and organizations that promote divisiveness and hate to our community."

Caton's recording urged passage of Amendment 2, which would place a ban on gay marriage in Florida's constitution.

Same-sex marriages are already banned by Florida statute.

Caton reiterated similar themes in a mass e-mail, in which he claimed Beckner is part of a radical agenda to force pastors to sanctify gay marriage.

Attempts to reach Caton or Blair were not successful. Caton has led several high-profile campaigns against pornography, gay rights and public nudity. In a 1990 autobiography, Caton spoke of overcoming his own addictions to pornography and masturbation.

Beckner's campaign manager, Mitch Kates, called Caton's communications bizarre.

"I certainly don't think he speaks for the residents of Hills­borough County," Kates said. "I think he speaks for the demons in his head."

Gay candidate target of late campaign call 11/03/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 7, 2008 12:50pm]

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