Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Beck reality check

I made note in last week's Spanning the State about what I consider to be a rather bizarre choice for Willy Week's Rogue of the Week, Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland). WW's Byron Beck and Hank Stern apparently made the pick because Kotek participated in changing the "civil unions" legislation to "domestic partnership". The change was done in case the bill ends up being referred to the voters on the November 08 ballot at the apparent behest of Basic Rights Oregon. BRO (and polling seems to back this up) finds that "domestic partnership" is a phrase that more people seem to be amicable toward.

The rights given to gays and lesbians under this bill (as far as I can tell) remain the same--its just a name change.

The Rogue-ing of Kotek rained down a surly list of comments at WW--and apparently a raft of angry emails on both sides of the issue. Tomorrow's Willy Week is certain to be chock full of the stuff.

Beck responded to the comments against his Kotek Rogue-ing with a piece at his Queer Window column. I have a lot of admiration for Byron's writing and work--I read him religiously. But in this case, I think he's way off the mark:

Now, I'm not apologizing for labeling BRO and Kotek as Rogues. I still think their decision to change the language of HB 2007 from "civil unions" to "domestic partnerships" was not what I signed up for and makes it look like we, as gays, have something to hide.
But I wish I hadn't named them the Rogues because critics—and there are many, judging from the nasty emails/phone calls/Web posts I've gotten (see Mailbox, page 4), including the one threatening to "spill a drink on my chunky ass any time I'm seen in public"—have gotten so hung up on it. The real question that's emerged for me is whether anybody (me included) has the right ever to question the motives of our leaders.

First, the idea that the name change makes it look like the GLBT community has "something to hide" is ludicrous. BRO, Kotek and the Majority Leader's office made it crystal clear why they decided to change the phrasing. They hid nothing. The fact remains that the rights bestowed to GLBT community under this legislation remain the same. I can't understand how choosing a name that appeals to voters in the event the law is referred is a net negative. Its like Byron is itching for a fight because he's pissed off about something else and wants to take swings.

Second, I've read nothing from anyone critical of Beck or Stern who has said that they shouldn't critize our leaders. People who are in disagreement (including myself) are saying that their choice of Rogue was wrong and that their reasoning doesn't add up. That's a far cry from sticking a piece of duct tape on Byron's mouth (Queer Window has a dramatic photo of Byron with tape slapped over his mouth--his arms are crossed as he peers pleadingly into the camera) and telling him to shut the fuck up and stop criticizing Kotek/BRO.

Beck's piece at QW is so over-the-top dramatic that in my view it cheapens whatever argument he was trying to make. Its perfectly legitimate for people to have a policy or strategy disagreement. But its silly and unnecessary to drag a bunch of extra crap that has nothing to do with reality.