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"Appalled" by Lambert's Position on Allen

As an openly gay man and an advocate on behalf of sexual and gender minority youth (and having recently relocated to Richmond from Hartford, Conn.), I'm as appalled by state Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert III's backing of U.S. Sen. George Allen ("Why I Choose Allen," Back Page, Sept. 27) as I am touched by the dignified activism of Byron Knight ("Quiet Riot," News & Features, Sept. 27).

While Sen. Allen may very well have made significant strides in sensitivity and commitment to African-Americans, his support of initiatives to constitutionally mandate marriage as exclusive to heterosexual couples shows a blatant disregard for tens of thousands of same-sex Virginia couples whose capacity to live the American dream is severely compromised by their inability to marry their partner of choice.

The spirit of forgiveness Sen. Lambert alludes to in his commentary is indeed an admirable quality, one we should look for in our elected officials. His seeming failure to make the connection between various forms of bigotry is shocking, however. It's not merely coincidence that those political and religious leaders who are the vanguard of the movement to deny the protections of marriage to same-sex couples are the moral and spiritual descendants of those who sought to retain the institution of slavery (and later, racial segregation), deny the vote to women, etc.

Sen. Allen's attendance at the "Washington Briefing" (a gathering of far-right extremists) is further indication of his insensitivity to a major segment of his constituency. Among the goals of the Briefing's leadership is blocking safe-schools initiatives established by leading gay rights organizations such as PFLAG and GLSEN.

On a personal level, having come out as gay at age 13, and later losing my first lover to what today would be called a gay-bashing, I'm disgusted that an elected official would want any association with an organization whose stated aims, at heart, would allow intimidation of students based on real or perceived sexual orientation, and/or their gender identity or expression. Were such fear tactics directed at individuals on the basis of race or ethnicity, the electorate would be justifiably outraged. I urge state Sen. Lambert to reconsider his stance relative to Sen. Allen, based on his current record of bigotry targeting sexual and gender minority citizens.

Kenneth C. Decker

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