This is my response to Sunday’s editorial and has been delivered to the Record Eagle by email tonight.
Declining circulation and influence should not justify the Record Eagle’s turn toward “National Observer” journalism. New to public service, I was not prepared for the original, inaccurate and venomous article that arose out of my meeting with the County Health Director. In the course of making inquiries about various programs and costs, I made comments reflecting my views of homosexuality in the presence of TWO people, one of whom presumably made it a mission to inform the political community and the RE immediately. The article itself (and now an editorial) was hurtful to more people than were my private comments.
And I readily acknowledge my own reservations abut homosexuality, on moral, aesthetic and health grounds. These are personal views, partly arising out of an unfortunate experience as a youth. But these are opinions to which I have a personal right. What I did NOT do was use the terminology subsequently adopted by the RE: “hate” “crime” “perverted criminals”, etc. A person’s sexual orientation will have nothing to do with my dealings in the public sector. While invited by the reporter to correct his first article, I chose not to do so. I had originally cautioned him that such an article would fan the flames and be felt harmful to a segment of the community. I repeated that concern. I pointed out it would be akin to a judge telling a jury to ignore a colorful but inadmissible comment.
But bias or need to inflame again infected the RE staff, resulting in Sunday’s editorial. There appears a need to destroy my reputation, or tarnish my character. It is necessary to respond. I am NOT a bigot. My small workforce is multi-racial, and has included multiple sexual orientations (not that I really care). I have no intent to monitor gay county employees. My objectives on the County Commission continue to be exactly those I campaigned on: close attention to budgets, and in general seeing that our taxpayers get their money’s worth from the government they pay for. The muckraking sideshow about homophobia was created by the RE for reasons only it can explain. For the future, I pledge to keep my personal views to myself in official environments, and ask the RE to emphasize financial and governance issues that matter, rather that reach out to create the inflammatory.
Jason R. Gillman
County Commissioner District 1