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Why Democrats will not particpate in Prince William Committee of 100 candidate forums

Opinion 

As many know, the Prince William Democratic candidates for this November’s General Election are not participating in any forum, debate, etc, hosted by, sponsored by, or co-hosted by the Prince William Committee of 100.

This was a unanimous decision by all 27 Democrats running for office in Prince William. The reason?

Shortly after being elected President of the Committee of 100, James Young posted a venomous attack on homosexuals. Mr. Young is, of course, entitled to his political views, and he need not forfeit them simply because he is president of the Committee of 100.

He is free to publicly oppose gay marriage, adoption of children by gay couples, and a host of other policies targeting homosexuals. His rant, however, was not a political policy statement, but a hateful and vitriolic assault on homosexuals as people, employing the type of language that has been used in the past to both provoke and rationalize violence against them.

It was not only an offense to common decency, but totally inappropriate for the president of an organization devoted to civil discussion of issues. It is now simply impossible for a gay person to feel that they are welcome in the Committee of 100.

The organization’s application might as well now read “Homosexuals Need Not Apply.” When I first learned of Young’s public tirade, I called him and reminded him that historically the Committee has been open and accepting of anyone and that his rant as the face of the Committee will undoubtedly have repercussions.

The solution was relatively simple: Mr. Young need not resign as president, but he should apologize for the language he used. Subsequently, I resigned as Treasurer of the Committee, as did the Vice President and several other members of the boards; numerous others will not be renewing their memberships this month.

The Committee of 100 has served Prince William valuably for more than 25 years, hosting programs and candidate fora, and for candidates who have been active in the Committee this has been a particularly sad development. Unfortunately Mr. Young has singlehandedly tainted the organization and no candidate felt they could in good conscience implicitly support an organization whose leader has so viciously attacked our family members, friends, and others in our community

Speech is free, but not without consequences, and it would be intolerable if comparable language was used to describe African-Americans, Jews, Latinos, Muslims, or other minority groups – it is intolerable in this instance as well.

We can only hope that the Committee of 100 will someday return to its mission as a place for the civil discussion of important issues. The good news for voters in the meantime is that numerous organizations are sponsoring debates this year with ample opportunity for the voters to hear candidate’s positions on the issues facing Prince William County in an environment where everyone is welcome, regardless of their sexual orientation.

 

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