Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Check Is In The Mail

The Hartford Advocate reports that the Lamont campaign may be gay-averse at worse and at best simply rude.

Kevin Brookman, vice president of Hartford’s Connecticut Pride Center, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people organization, was rudely rebuffed by staff people working for Democrat Party nominee for the U.S. senate Ned Lamont.

When Brookman attempted to collect a promised contribution from Lamont for Hartford’s Connecticut Pride Festival, he was met with a torrent of verbal abuse from top Lamont campaign staffer John Murphy, once Tom Swan’s deputy at Connecticut Citizens Action Group. Swan is Lamont’s campaign manager.

According to the Advocate:

Brookman said when he recently tried to secure a promised donation from Lamont’s campaign, he was stunned by the cursing and disrespect he received from a campaign staffer.

Brookman is organizing the Connecticut Pride Festival, which is expected to draw at least 10,000 people to downtown Hartford on Sept. 9. (He’s also a neighborhood activist and a member of Hartford’s Republican Town Committee.) Festival organizers solicited potential donors to buy advertisements in the festival guide, and Brookman said both the Lamont and Lieberman campaigns pledged to contribute.

Lieberman’s campaign paid for its ad, but Brookman said Lamont’s people subsequently decided not to contribute. Brookman said he tried again, leaving a message with the campaign. Sitting in his office with other Pride Festival organizers a couple weeks ago, he received a call back and put it on his speaker phone. It was top Lamont staffer John Murphy, who was Swan’s deputy at CCAG and joined the campaign along with him.

According to Brookman’s account, Murphy tore into him, saying, “Who the f**k do you think you are?” and continuing in a similarly off-color vein. When he mentioned he had personally given an information packet to Lamont, who promised to buy an ad, Murphy said, “Why the f**k would you give it to the candidate?” Finally, Murphy said, “We’ll take the f**king ad,” according to Brookman.

“He was using the F-word as every other word,” said Daniel Halle, a festival coordinator who was in the room. Worse than the cursing, however, was the campaign’s broken promise to support the festival, he said. “Do we want someone as a senator who can’t even stick with getting an ad?” Brookman said, “This is the biggest single event in the gay community, and they’re blowing it off.” The organizers have yet to receive a check from the Lamont campaign, they said.

It is not obvious from a reading of the Advocate story whether Murphy and Swan, described elsewhere in the story as “foul-mouthed,” are inept, rude, stingy, inflated with self importance or infected with the anti-gay virus.

The story also suggests that the insensitive iconography of the campaign should be reconfigured.

A recent Hartford Advocate letter-writer, identified as K. Morris of West Hartford, described a Lamont campaign DVD that contrasted a loving image of Lieberman and President Bush to a picture of Lamont and his wife. “His DVD cover communicates that gay love is somehow bad, while his marriage to his wife is good by comparison,” Morris wrote. “As a gay male, I find this rather insulting. He may want to rethink his cover if he wants to secure any LGBT support.”

There is some justice to these complaints. The raving anti-gay beast is a thinned skinned animal that needs only the slighted provocation to pounce, and the messaging of the Lamont campaign, possibly unintentional, certainly can be interpreted by some as permission and a goad. Part of the appeal of the “The Kiss,” a paper mache rebuke in the form of two puppet heads representing Bush and Lieberman in an intimate pose, lies in its subtle suggestion that the two presumptive Iraq warriors they represent may be less macho than … well, Lamont campaign workers who regularly beat their breasts loudly on blogs and do not scruple to show Lieberman in blackface.

It may be time to mothball all this, including “The Kiss,” and put on some manners that Mom will be comfortable with.
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