Monday, August 14, 2006

Mayor's Forum presented by Gay Rights group, PACE; report by Adrienne Critcher of PACE

Arnold Schwarzenegger - Bicept
Originally uploaded by Tall Fool.
Adrienne Critcher writes to her gang, "Thank you to everyone who attended Political Action Council for Equality's Shreveport Mayoral Forum last night. The 85 seats in the auditorium were filled and the crowd spilled out into the lobby of the Deaf Action Center. David counted 120 there. It was a great crowd. Representatives from the local TV stations, The Times and The Forum were there. Seven of the 11 candidates participated in the panel, with 1 showing up after he got off work.

It was an enlightening event. Very importantly, the candidates and the audience treated each other with respect even on matters on which we obviously disagree.

I want to make 2 main points about the forum.

First, even the most extreme candidate on Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/ Transgender issues did not use our event to gleefully proclaim his or her opposition to our interests. For example in their answers to the question on the 2004 constitutional amendment, there was considerable "tap-dancing", claims of forgetfulness about their vote, and even those who admitted voting for the amendment discussed either the difficulty in arriving at that position or qualified their vote with the assurance that they don't support discrimination. Of course all of us realize the contradictions here, and I am not trying to soft-pedal their responses, but no one was there to throw red meat to the radical religious right. In NW Louisiana, you acknowledge that small step in the right direction.

And the candidates knew the media was there, so this wasn't just an attempt to try to appease the audience.

Second, after the forum we all got an opportunity to visit with the candidates during the social time. The last of us didn't leave until around 8:30. We made perhaps some of our best points during these individual visits. My husband, son and I all had good respectful conversations with various candidates and their spouses in which we presented them with information that they had obviously either not heard or considered before. We found them willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue. I watched as many of members of the audience did the same. I now believe that I can have a rational conversation with any of the serious candidates, one of whom will be our next mayor.

Many thanks to Rodney Grunes for his very professional job as our moderator - and for keeping a straight face during Madjun Ali's stand-up comedy act. Well, no one could keep a straight face during all of that. And during Vernon Adams' statement that only those who had accepted Jesus as savior would be appointed to city committees/commissions if he were elected mayor. See what you missed if you weren't there!

Most of all thanks to you who came out to support PACE's first public forum. We showed the candidates that we exist, that we have legitimate concerns, that we are a thoughtful, knowledgeable group. PACE has come a very long way, and has done so in one of the parts of the country most hostile to LGBT issues. With your help we will continue to make our presence known, and to change hearts and minds and lives."


Times writer Joel Anderson penned an issue-oriented account of the PACE forum that I enjoyed reading.

And the Times says the next mayor's forum is Wed, Aug 16, LSUS Science Lecture Hall, 4 to 6 pm. It features moderator Tom Pace (no relationship).

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