Cleveland--While Republicans should be challenged on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights, Democrats shouldn�t be given a free ride on the issue either, said radio and TV host Jerry Springer.
Eighty people turned out for a $100-a plate dinner to hear Springer and raise money for the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats� political action committee.
The September 30 �Freedom Reception� at Massimo da Milano restaurant also featured the presentation of the group�s Freedom Award.
Over a dozen elected officials were present, ranging from Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell and city council members Joe Cimperman, Kevin Kelley and Dona Brady to State Reps. Michael Skindell and Dale Miller.
Openly gay council candidates Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, Joe Santiago of Cleveland and Mark Tumeo of Cleveland Heights were also in attendance. The trio were all endorsed by the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats.
The George Gund Foundation was given the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats Freedom Award for its support of LGBT and HIV organizations, including the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and the Free Clinic.
However, the highlight of the evening was an impassioned speech by Springer. He is the object of praise for his radio talk show on Air America and derision for his TV show, which he referred to as �the worst show in the history of television.�
�I�m embarrassed that this is still an issue,� he said of LGBT equal rights. �I�m embarrassed that our state is on the forefront of Neanderthal thinking on progressive issues like this.�
The former Cincinnati mayor spoke briefly about his radio show, which is intended to be a liberal voice in conservative-dominated talk radio. It can be heard across the state on WTAM 1100 AM at 9 in the morning, ending a half-hour before Rush Limbaugh�s show begins at noon.
�Let the Rush Limbaugh listeners hear it, let the Bush voters hear it, let the conservatives hear it,� he said, noting also that progressives in the Cleveland area had work to do, but that work was mostly in other parts of the state. He pointed out that LGBT people in Cuyahoga County and its environs were the lucky ones in Ohio, and that the true battleground lay to the south.
He was highly critical of the current administration, not just of the state but also of the country.
�The people we put in elected office, you would never put in charge of your business,� he opined. �You know deep down you really believe you�re smarter than George Bush.�
Springer did not spare Democrats from criticism, however.
�Whoever the candidate is, let�s not be soft on that candidate on this issue,� he urged. �If you can�t see the right and wrong on this issue, if you can�t see the decency of this issue, why are you getting in public life?�
�Don�t be standing up saying how patriotic you are in the seventh inning of the ball game and then be denying people their civil liberties because they�re a little different than you.�
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