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Anti-gay attitudes; and teabagging? 

Anti-gay attitude keeps domestic partnership ordinance at bay

Editor,

When I moved to Savannah in 1980 I was told of the gay man murdered by the three Rangers in downtown Savannah the year before. The Rangers received virtually no punishment. I asked gay Savannahians why they let this happen; their reply was that there was nothing they could do, that this is the way things were done in Savannah. I decided that if I was going to stay in the city I would work to make Savannah a place where everyone was welcome and valued.

Over the years I have passed out thousands of fliers, many on the sidewalks of the historic district, most geared toward the gay community and our friends. Most fliers are not controversial: Gay Volunteer Day, the annual First City Network Oyster Roast & Lowcountry Boil, Gay and Lesbian Film Society offerings, etc.

In all the years I've been leafleting I've only had three bad experiences. The first happened many years ago when a downtown business kept blacks out. While leafleting out front on the public sidewalk an employee threatened to break our legs. We continued leafleting; the business changed its policy (to their financial gain); our legs were not broken.

The second bad experience happened when Otis Johnson was running for his first term as mayor. We were passing out fliers for Otis on the public sidewalk in front of the Trustees Theater. The manager told us to stop leafleting or he would call the police. We called Otis and have us advice on what to say and do. We talked to the two officers: the First Amendment, freedom of speech, public sidewalk. After less than a minute of conversation they walked away, allowing us to continue working for Otis. The situation was handled professionally by the police. And the Trustees Theater did not crumble to the ground as a result.

The worst experience occurred Oct. 2009, with some of the same people leafleting in the exact same location as the Otis Johnson situation. We thought we were leafleting a friendly crowd - innovators - asking them to lobby city council on behalf of domestic partnerships for city employees. After a few minutes a police officer told us we had to stop leafleting. I said the same things I did when leafleting for Otis: the First Amendment, freedom of speech, public sidewalk.

We were threatened with arrest, handcuffs, and a ride in a paddy wagon. The threat was backed up not by one officer, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven - but eight or more, enough to cause some of the student participants to run in fear.

I was escorted to a police car by three uniformed officers, where they were joined by a fourth (their supervisor). I was told a paddy wagon had been called, and that I would be arrested for just walking on the sidewalk. I was told the permit existed making the public sidewalk private; I was told I could see the permit, but it never appeared. There were no signs or barricades indicating the public sidewalk had been made private.

It turns out the public sidewalk was never private, any more than Forsyth Park sidewalks were private during this year's Savannah Pride.

There are some in the gay community who consider our leafleting for domestic partnerships inappropriate. There are those who believe that as long as we are invited to parties and some politicians show up at a gay event once a year that we should accept our place in society.

I'm not willing to sit in the back of the bus. What I consider inappropriate is a military that considers gay citizens a threat. What I consider inappropriate is Georgia changing its constitution to outlaw civil unions because they consider gay relationships a threat. What I consider inappropriate is a police department that considers gay leafletters a threat.

Savannah has an opportunity to show that it is a progressive, innovative city. City Council discussion of domestic partnerships for city employees is a step in the right direction.

Mark Krueger


Turned off by teabagging

Editor,

I don't know what Tea Party or Forum on ObamaCare you attended, but there were no "rabid Tea Partiers foaming at the mouth while screaming nonsensical slogans" among the 600 people who attended Jack Kingston's health care forum. Even the small handful of MoveOn-ers were not "rabid."

I was also unaware of what "teabagging" means, so I had to consult Wikipedia to learn what a disgusting slur you and your ilk are directing at people who don't agree with your far left agenda.

John Snedeker

 

 

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