Thursday, March 15, 2012

John Lee Speaks... To Stonewall (And Gets a Surprising Response!)

We were all waiting for this. This was the big night. For the first time ever, John Lee appeared at a Nevada Stonewall Democratic function.

Yes, I can wait a moment while you try to put your head back together after it exploded.

OK, are you ready now?

So John Lee spoke at length on Nevada's legislative process, and of the state of our economy today (which I'll get to in a future story). But this morning, I want to give Lee a chance to explain for himself his past opposition to SB 283 and AB 211.

Honestly, I was surprised. He neither apologized for his votes nor tried to really rationalize them. He basically just said that they are what they are and he is what he is.

John Lee said flat out that he believes marriage should be restricted to straight couples, but I just asked him about SB 283, which is not even marriage. It just affords some basic rights, benefits, and responsibilities to Nevada families that are easily given to everyone else. I understand John Lee is "pro-family", so why not at least allow these families to have the same rights that he and his wife gave?

An actual constituent of John Lee then asked him about his vote last session against AB 211, the transgender inclusive workplace non-discrimination bill. Lee had said earlier that no one from Stonewall even bothered to talk to him, but she corrected him and stated she did schedule meetings with him in 2009 regarding SB 283, and in 2011 regarding AB 211. Now I realize that it was a mistake for many progressives to totally shut down lines of communication with Lee, however not everyone was doing that. And despite hearing from constituents and activists who did schedule meetings with him, Lee still voted against AB 211. Did he need to see this?

Or does he need to hear from more Nevadans who have experienced workplace discrimination first hand? How hard is it to understand that it's wrong to fire someone from a job just because of one's identified gender?

Well, at least John Lee came to Stonewall last night to hear our grievances. I'll give him credit for that. (No really, I will!) And hopefully now with lines of communication between Lee and local progressives, he'll take some time to reconsider his take on matters of LGBTQ equality.

Interestingly enough, another candidate stood up later in the meeting and briefly discussed his own first hand experience.

Steve Parke is running for Assembly District 21 in Henderson and Silverado Ranch. (Disclaimer: He's also my neighbor.) And like John Lee, Steve Parke is also "pro-family" (he has a wife and two kids) and LDS. And he explained so well both the legal and moral case for marriage equality. In just his one minute of speaking, he blew away the audience... And hopefully, helped Lee start on that path of reconsidering his take on matters of LGBTQ equality.

Between Lee coming to Stonewall and the introduction of new Legislature candidates there last night, my hope for next session is being renewed.

1 comment:

  1. The dichotomy between Lee and Parke's positions is very interesting, both being pro-family Mormons and all.