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September 15, 2006

GOP leader says his anti-gay flyers actually help McGivern

Cleveland--A Republican ward leader says he�s distributing anti-gay flyers against an openly gay GOP candidate--whom he recruited--for the candidate�s own good.

Richard May, who heads the GOP organization in Cleveland�s west side Ward 20, says the flyers benefit Ohio House District 14 candidate William McGivern by giving him publicity and an issue to stand on.

May distributed 1,200 flyers to Republicans in his ward titled �Gays Against Gay Special Rights to Campaign in Ward 20.�

The flyer highlights McGivern�s support for GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, arguably the most anti-gay candidate ever to seek office in Ohio.

The flyer also accuses McGivern of hiding his homosexuality in order to win conservative support.

This is the second time May has distributed anti-gay literature against McGivern. In July, he published and distributed a pamphlet headlined, �GOP is the Pro-Family Values Party, Never Mind the Gay Guy.�

May says McGivern is �courageous� for quitting his job at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in order to run, �but his message isn�t going to work.�

Currently, McGivern�s message is one against taxes, for charter and private schools, and more protection for senior citizens. He also publicly supports Blackwell and the rest of the GOP ticket.

May claims that when he interviewed McGivern for GOP support earlier this year, he asked McGivern if there were any skeletons in his closet. McGivern said there were none.

May says that he learned McGivern is gay from a report on his candidacy in the June 16 Gay People�s Chronicle. May distributed that article with his first flyer.

McGivern, former gay bar and a Log Cabin Republican leader, has been out 36 years by his own count, and with his partner for 26 of them.

�I don�t consider being gay a skeleton,� he said in July.

�Attention leads to votes,� said May, �and [McGivern] needs to go to the media and tell them he�s a gay candidate supporting Blackwell. That�s a story that would break through.�

�It�s the one thing that�s compelling about his campaign,� said May. �He�s a gay conservative. That�s his introduction right there.�

May called McGivern �a bad candidate� aside from his being gay, because �when he�s at meetings, people don�t remember him.�

�[McGivern] leaves no impression,� said May.

�To a great degree, this is the best I can do for him,� said May. �What else can I write about Bill McGivern that would break through? A candidate needs courage and conviction.�

May�s latest flyer praises McGivern, saying, �being gay is less important to him than the other pressing issues of the state of Ohio. That is why he is comfortable receiving the �anti-gay� support of the coattails of being on the Republican ticket.�

But it also lambastes him.

�If one thinks we recruited a gay state House candidate on purpose who owned the gay bar Muggs on West 25th Street, they are affected by a drug not sold at Walgreen�s over the counter,� wrote May. �Yes, we were deceived.�

May wrote that McGivern�s campaign is an �under funded political sideshow,� then compares his candidacy to a former �mentally ill derelict� GOP candidate, who used to run every year.

�Consider this when thinking of McGivern�s frankness, or lack thereof,� wrote May. �In the July 28th Gay People�s Chronicle [McGivern] says �the campaign is not about my sexual orientation.�

GOP Cuyahoga County Commissioner candidate Wendell Robinson used his time at May�s September 6 ward meeting to defend McGivern.

After passing out printouts of his July 27 blog entry backing McGivern to the 34 people in the room, Robinson said �I don�t care about his sexual orientation, and I�m disappointed in you if you do. I support Bill McGivern, and I hope you will, too.�

Robinson sparred with May and others at the meeting over his support for McGivern.

�He wasn�t open,� shouted one Republican activist to Robinson. �The problem is when people don�t be honest.�

Robinson wrote, �Prior to the circulation of May�s [July] flyer, the issue of Bill�s lifestyle was not an issue and as far as I�m concerned it remains a non-issue.�

May interrupted Robinson, saying, �It is important that you�re gay or not because some people do care, but we do it in a loving way.�

May said his anti-gay flyers were a �consensus of the precinct leaders.�

McGivern is irked by May�s politicking on his behalf.

�[May] wants me to run a gay election, and I want to run on what I�m running on,� said McGivern.

He added that May wants nothing more than to have the matter aired in the Plain Dealer, which he says he will not do.

�I want to win on issues,� said McGivern. �If I play that game, I�m as bad as him.�

But McGivern adds that his campaign didn�t run short of funds until May started distributing his flyers.

McGivern said his campaign was raising $500 to 600 per week before the first one appeared in July. �Now it�s nothing.�

McGivern also said the flyers are generating phone calls.

�They are either hate calls, or calls apologizing for May�s behavior,� said McGivern.

May�s September 6 meeting was also attended by anti-gay activists Chris Long, who heads the Ohio Christian Alliance, formerly the Ohio Christian Coalition, and Ohio Right to Life leader Denise MacKura.

Both spoke to the club about the need to rally evangelical Christians to the polls.

�If we don�t win, it will be a very different state,� said MacKura.

May said that groups like the Log Cabin Republicans have not been invited to speak at his ward meetings because �they are not loyal to the party.�

Backing of an additional tax on cigarette sales in Cuyahoga County in order to fund the arts also spoke at the meeting. However, they were challenged from the floor by attendees who said AIDS is more expensive to treat than cancer, and suggested taxing condoms instead, because �that will lead to less pregnancy and disease.�

In November, McGivern faces incumbent Democrat Rep. Mike Foley, who was appointed to fill the seat vacated when Dale Miller moved from the House to the Senate.

Miller, a consistent LGBT ally, introduced the state�s first legislation to outlaw job discrimination by sexual orientation or gender identity.

Foley defeated an anti-gay Democratic foe in the primary, and is endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats.

Ohio House District 14 includes southwest Cleveland wards 19, 20 and 21, plus the adjacent suburbs of Brook Park and Parma Heights. Because of its composition, it is unlikely that any Republican would get more than 30 percent of the vote--a point McGivern and May both agree on.


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