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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
July 28, 2006

Blackwell says: Gays are sinful and can be cured

Columbus--Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell said that gays, like arsonists and kleptomaniacs, are sinful and can be cured.

The correlation was published in the July 23 Columbus Dispatch as part of a series comparing Blackwell to his Democratic opponent Ted Strickland on matters of faith and religion, and how their beliefs would affect each one as Ohio�s top executive.

Blackwell�s interchanging LGBT people with criminals echoes the declaration he made from a church pulpit in 2004 that barnyard animals know more than gays and lesbians.

It is also reminiscent of a widely condemned comment made by then-Republican Senate leader Trent Lott of Mississippi in 1998, equating gays with kleptomaniacs.

The Dispatch asked each candidate if he thought America was founded as a Christian nation, whether faith is applied to campaigning, how each interprets the Bible, and views on evolution and intelligent design.

Both were asked: �Is homosexuality a sin, and can gays be cured?� Blackwell answered: �I think homosexuality is a lifestyle, it�s a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed. I think it is a transgression against God�s law, God�s will.�

�The reality is,� Blackwell continued, �that I think we make choices all the time. And I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one�s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist, or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes.�

Strickland answered the same question: �I am not in the business of deciding who is and who is not a sinner. In answer to your second question . . . I feel like even as a psychologist I would not want to answer because every individual is an individual, their personalities, their traits are all unique, and so I would not want to say.�

To an earlier question, Blackwell said that his faith was behind his support for his �position on the defense of marriage,� which to him is means marriage is between one man and one woman, with no legal recognition or protection given to any couple, same-sex or opposite-sex, not married.

Blackwell�s statements drew quick condemnation and a demand for retraction by the LGBT rights group Equality Ohio.

�Blackwell�s comments are offensive and out of step with the majority of Ohioans,� said Equality Ohio director Lynne Bowman. �This kind of speech is unacceptable for a public official and divisive and offensive to hard working Ohioans across this state.�

Bowman said Blackwell is ignoring medical evidence and reality.

�Many thousands of LGBT Ohioans are in long term, committed relationships, practice their faith, and are raising children and contributing to their communities,� Bowman added.

Strickland and his running mate Lee Fisher are endorsed by the Equality Ohio Campaign Fund.

Blackwell�s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.


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