Dems pounced after Republican candidate Ken Buck likened homosexuality to alcoholism on Meet the Press. And while Buck's spokesman pooh-poohed the controversy, activists like One Colorado's Brad Clark aren't ready to move on.
Clark is among those appearing at a press conference at 1:30 p.m. today at which Buck will be asked to retract his statement.
As shown by the Meet the Press transcript, host David Gregory didn't exactly maneuver Buck into making this statement. Here's the exchange.
MR. GREGORY: And Mr. Buck I want to start with you. The issue of gays in our country, in a debate last month you expressed your support for "don't ask, don't tell," which we talked about with Mr. Gibbs, and you alluded to lifestyle choices. Do you believe that being gay is a choice?
MR. BUCK: I, I, I think that birth has an influence over like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically you, you have a choice.
Clark says he was dismayed by this statement but not exactly surprised.
"It was just one more in a long line of examples that show he's out of touch with the majority of Colorado," he maintains. "I think the majority of Coloradans would disagree with his position" -- and so do most behavioral experts: "Every major medical and mental-health association across the country has disputed Ken Buck's position.
"Even more troubling," he continues, "is that he didn't say it was just a choice. He went further, comparing it to a disease like alcoholism."
Buck spokesman Owen Loftus maintains that debates about the roots of homosexuality or his decision not to file charges in a controversial 2005 date-rape case are distractions from the issues that are most important to Coloradans these days, including jobs and the economy. Clark disagrees.
"Voters deserve to know where Ken Buck stands on this issue," he allows. "Just last week, a federal court overturned 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and that issue's going to be before Congress. It's the type of issue the U.S. Senate will have to address -- and what we found out over the weekend is that Ken Buck's position is really rooted in biased ideology and some very flawed research."
And then there's the issue of increasing numbers of high-profile suicides by gay teenagers -- a subject the GLBT Center's Hope Wisneski discussed with us earlier this month. In Clark's view, declarations like Buck's only exacerbate the problem.
"In the past six weeks alone, a number of teenagers have taken their own lives after being a victim of anti-gay bullying," he points out. "And when public figures like Ken Buck say things like this, it only seems to justify the bullying and harassment that's going on. That's why we're calling on him to retract what we see as a very dangerous statement."
Clearly, Buck's opinion isn't unique -- but Clark believes it no longer represents the views of most folks. "Everyday people, the mainstream in Colorado, don't agree with his message," he argues. "And this is part of a long line of extreme statements he's made, from what we've heard him say about rape and incest and his support of the Personhood amendment to comments he's made about cutting public education, and even his comments in the primary about high heels. I think it's really starting to make some people wonder if he's fit to be a U.S. senator."
Page down to read a release about this afternoon's event from Campaign for a Strong Colorado as well as a One Colorado release featuring a link to an online petition calling for Buck to retract his statement:
Campaign for a Strong Colorado release:
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Buck's Comments On Gays & Alcoholism Irresponsible
Add to Bullying Atmosphere
Ken Buck's comments on Sunday's Meet the Press comparing being gay to the disease of alcoholism fly in the face of scientific research. THIS IS NOT ONLY ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HOW KEN BUCK'S EXTREME VIEWS ARE OUT OF TOUCH WITH COLORADANS, but adds to an atmosphere where young people are bullied.
One Colorado will host a news conference on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 to discuss why Buck's comments are harmful to the community at-large.
"Comparing a disease to sexual orientation is to be ignorant of reality," said Brad Clark. "In a landscape where similar attitudes have resulted in young people committing suicide, Ken Buck should understand the real consequence of his comments."
Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 1:30 p.m.
One Colorado Office, 1245 East Colfax Avenue, #204, Denver
Jason Marsden, Executive Director of Matthew Shepard Foundation
Sarah Burgamy, Licensed Psychologist
Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado
Deb Stone, Vice-President of PFLAG Denver
Carlos Martinez, Executive Director of The Center
Ellen Dumm, Executive Director of Campaign for a Strong Colorado
One Colorado release:
Professionals, Parent Slam Buck's Comments on Gays & Alcoholism Call for Buck to Retract
A group of professionals and the mother of a gay son today voiced outrage at GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck's comments that being gay is similar to the disease of alcoholism, calling the remarks irresponsible and asked for a retraction.
"Comparing a disease to sexual orientation is ignorant and homophobic," said Brad Clark, executive director of One Colorado. "With national attention focused on the devastating impact of bullying and harassment in our schools, Buck's message is dangerous, irresponsible, and wrong."
Deborah Stone, vice president of PFLAG Denver and the parent of a gay son said, "It is comments like those made by Ken Buck that make kids and adults feel like it is OK to taunt and terrorize other people. The fact that Buck is a public figure makes the impact of his comments even worse."
One Colorado released a statement from the American Psychiatric Association saying that the assumptions that "...homosexuality was once thought to be the results of family dynamics or faulty psychological development "are now understood to have been based on misinformation and prejudice."
"Ken Buck is way out of the mainstream on this issue. His statements are more extreme than Focus on the Family's official position. At a time when the U.S. Senate is debating issues such as repealing the military's policy of 'don't ask, don't tell,' we need someone who doesn't hold decades-old attitudes," said Ellen Dumm, executive director of Campaign for a Strong Colorado. "When he's caught off-guard, Buck says what he means. He's living in a 1950's world and we need someone who is looking forward, not backward."
One Colorado is circulating a petition calling on Buck to retract his statements and acknowledge the overwhelming scientific evidence that being gay or lesbian is not a choice or a disease. The petition is online at http://equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35061/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=172.