By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
An exchange of emails between First Ward City Councilman Kevin Johnson and Portsmouth Mayor David Malone has Johnson upset at the response he received from Malone.
Johnson recently wrote to Malone, asking him to join several other Ohio mayors in signing a resolution in support of same-sex marriage.
The Mayors for Freedom statement reads, in part, “As mayors of great American cities, we proudly stand together in support of the freedom of same-sex couples to marry. We personally know many gay and lesbian people living in our cities who are in committed, loving relationships, who are active participants in the civic life of our communities, and who deserve to be able to marry the person with whom they share their life.”
Johnson stated in his correspondence to Malone, “As you are probably aware, when I ran for Council in 2009, certain elements in our community suggested that I would bring a “San Francisco gay agenda” to the forefront of my legislative goals. And, as you are most definitely aware, such has not been the case. I have not once suggested any legislation in support of, nor have I encouraged any elected official to support, any gay cause, issue or proposition. Until now.”
Johnson said in the correspondence that most recently, as an outgrowth of a 2009 Resolution by the National Conference of Mayors, a “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” organization was formed in support of the 2009 Resolution calling for marriage equality.
“Though this issue no longer affects me directly, given that my partner of over 30 years, Paul Eugene Johnson, passed away nearly three years ago, I firmly believe this issue will 1) not go away, and 2) will succeed in municipalities and states that seek and thrive upon economic and social diversity. In the areas of business and education, equal rights for gay and lesbian persons has become critical to success,” Johnson wrote. “In our area, both Shawnee State University and Southern Ohio Medical Center have very strong, and strongly enforced, guidelines and provisions regarding any form of discrimination against persons who happen to be gay or lesbian. And, privately, both have indicated that these guidelines and provisions have helped them attract the best and brightest of all to join their organizations. And as for municipalities and states that have extended equal rights provisions, the benefits to individuals and the local economies have long been documented. Our educated young entrepreneurs and skilled workers find they thrive in equality environments; and tend to choose where to live and work based upon the perceived “equality” factor of an area — which, for example, both Cleveland and Columbus have recognized — to their economic benefit.”
Johnson concluded his correspondence with, “I humbly ask that you consider joining this effort as Mayor of Portsmouth.”
Malone responded with a single statement: “Keeping this response very short and to the point,” Malone wrote. “Being that I am a minister of the Gospel and the BIBLE emphatically forbids such, there is absolutely no way that I will support this. Although this is your preferred lifestyle, I have the utmost respect for you as a person and the things you do for the city, I cannot support what God calls an abomination.”
That response drew Johnson’s ire.
“Dear Rev./Mayor Malone:
I decided that I should let my anger at your February 8 response abate before responding. ‘Preferred lifestyle’ my butt! Being homosexual is not a lifestyle as any reading of the subject matter will show. I had written to Mayor Malone but it seems I received a response from the Right Reverend Malone. And I immediately thought of Christ’s admonition to “render under Caesar…;” an admonition concerning responsibilities to the “state” as opposed to those to God,” Johnson wrote.
He then made several biblical type references including, “such as killing another, adultery and numerous proscriptions regarding staying away from women during their time of the month.”
“Let me relate to you what I consider an absolute evil and abomination. I heard from a local football coach this week who related that of his 12 starters, 10 had one or no parent whatsoever and two had been homeless at the beginning of the school year. That heterosexuals can and do play so loosely with the lives of children, marry and divorce with abandon, and politely ignore adultery, are the epitome of evil and abomination,” Johnson said. “There are many who oppose marriage between same-sex couples for various reasons. I can understand that. Paul and I long had difficulty with it after examining the disasters of so many heterosexual marriages made us suspect there is a curse upon the institution. However, for an elected official to be opposed to this or any other issue based upon their preferred book of religion, be it the Bible, Book of Mormon, Koran, Torah or the Vedas, begs credulity. But I suppose one must be thankful that our Mayor is not an orthodox, theological Shiite or Sunni Muslim.”
Thus far these mayors from Ohio have joined over 100 others throughout the nation. They are David Berger, (Lima), Sara Drew (Stow), Frank Jackson (Cleveland), Edward Kelly (Cleveland Heights), Mark Mallory (Cincinnati), Gary Norton (East Cleveland), David Plusquellic (Akron) and Mike Summers (Lakewood).
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.