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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
October 20, 2006

Candidate raises the
specter of NAMBLA in televised debate

Columbus--In what is being viewed as a desperate move from someone trailing by double digits in the polls, GOP gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell accused his Democratic opponent Ted Strickland of being supported by the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

Blackwell threw the bomb on October 16 at the fourth candidate debate between the men, at WBNS Channel 10 in Columbus.

NAMBLA is a mostly defunct organization that tried to legalize sex between men and boys in the 1970s. It is denounced by every LGBT advocacy group, and is no longer incorporated.

Since 1995, its only presence has been a barely maintained website and a box at a private San Francisco mail service. The organization no longer has meetings. Its founders and membership base are mostly deceased.

Still, mention of NAMBLA is incendiary, conjuring up the ugliest, most homophobic caricatures of gay men as pedophiles. The organization continues to be a bogeyman raised by anti-gays.

“It’s dirty,” said Equality Ohio director Lynne Bowman, “absolutely dirty to bring that up.”

“Blackwell’s insinuation is asinine.” Bowman added. “He has no plan to change the state, so he’s trying to change the subject.”

Blackwell is a well-known gaybaiter.

Last July, he told the Columbus Dispatch: “I think homosexuality is a lifestyle, it's a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed. I think it’s a transgression against God’s law, God's will . . . One's genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist, or may make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that can be changed? Yes.”

Two years ago, while campaigning in a church for the anti-gay marriage amendment and waving a Bible, Blackwell told the crowd, “I can tell you right now that the notion [of gay sex] defies barnyard logic. The barnyard knows better.”

Blackwell attempted to disparage Strickland with an old and mostly discredited allegation that he knowingly hired a sex offender. He then tried to paint Strickland as weak on child protection for a 1999 House vote on a non-binding resolution.

Blackwell claimed that NAMBLA, four years after its virtual disappearance, “applauded” Strickland’s vote.

He brought the matter up four times during the rest of the evening.

“Mr. Blackwell, you should be ashamed of yourself,” Strickland responded.

The charge that Strickland hired a sex offender was raised during the primary by Democrat Bryan Flannery.

However, the staffer in question was never convicted and the record was expunged in 2002.

Strickland says he confronted the employee when he learned of the matter in 1998, and was satisfied that the allegations were unsubstantiated. The staffer left Strickland’s employ two months later.

Strickland explained his vote on the resolution by saying that he agreed with some of it, but it had a passage declaring that victims of child sexual abuse can’t overcome it, and can never develop healthy adult relationships.

Strickland, a Methodist minister and psychologist, said that’s not true, and he could not support the statement. He voted “present” on the resolution, which is an abstention.

Strickland and his lieutenant governor choice Lee Fisher are endorsed by Equality Ohio.

 

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