Sunday, October 5, 2008

Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) is biphobic and transphobic

Though Senator Norm Coleman has no problem with gays and lesbians (they are apparently just born that way), he believes bisexuals and transgendered people "choose their lifestyle." This is the man that Al Franken (who has the endorsement of the Stonewall DFL Caucus) is running against, by the way.

From Joshua Lynsen, News Editor at the Washington Blade:

I have to apologize to my fellow Minnesotans. It seems that I’m partly to blame for St. Paul not celebrating Pride month when Norm Coleman was mayor.

Apparently, bisexuals such as myself unnerve Coleman, who’s now a U.S. senator. Bisexuality unnerves him so much that during his eight years as mayor, he refused to sign a proclamation celebrating Pride month because it would recognize bisexuals.

Minnesota’s leading newspaper, the Star Tribune, noted in May 1994 that Coleman had no problem with gays and lesbians. But he wouldn’t put his signature on a Pride proclamation that might be seen as promoting people who are bisexual or transgender.

“I see [being bisexual or having a sex change] as lifestyle issues,” Coleman said in the article. He noted that gays and lesbians, by comparison, have legal status as “protected-class” citizens because of their sexual orientation.

So I offer my apologies, Minnesota. Mea culpa.

Of course, it might be worth noting that I didn’t choose to be bisexual any more than Coleman chose to be heterosexual. And that 1.8 percent of American men and 2.8 percent of American women ages 18 to 44 identify as bisexual. And that two of Coleman’s predecessors and both of his successors signed the proclamation.

I contacted Coleman’s campaign this week to see if he’s changed his views since he was quoted 14 years ago. I didn’t get a response. It would seem that I continue to unnerve him.

But I suppose it’s OK that I unnerve him, because his ignorant and stubborn attitude unnerves me. And if he couldn’t bring himself to recognize bisexuals as recently as eight years ago, I see no reason for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Minnesotans to recognize him Nov. 4 in the voting booth.

I first saw this article posted on the BiNet USA listserv. One person sent a response with more info about Coleman and the situation:

Just wanted to point out that Sen. Coleman was the mayor of St. Paul, not Minneapolis. During his 8 years in office he refused to sign the Pride proclamation because (this is a paraphrase) 'while gays and lesbians can't help it, bisexuality and transgenderism are lifestyle choices'. The St. Paul city council issued a Pride proclamation each year. Sen. Coleman refused to do so. Sen. Coleman's refusal to sign the proclamation did not affect any of the Twin City Pride events that went on during his tenure.

(Oddly enough, a good friend of his family and a staff member of his for years, including his years as mayor, was an out bi and trans woman.)

His actions actually helped bisexuals be accepted by the gays and lesbians in Minnesota. A number of the 'old guard' had resisted the inclusion of bis (this was just a few short years after we successfully campaigned to get the Bs and Ts included in the Pride name). One of their arguments was that bis weren't discriminated against because they were bi, but because they were 'part gay'. A number of these people came up to me later and said that they changed their mind on inclusion of bisexuals since we did get discriminated against for being bi as opposed to being 'part gay'. So thank you Sen. Coleman!

Also wanted to let everyone know that Sen. Norm Coleman (GOP) is in no way related to the current mayor of St. Paul, Chris Coleman, who is very GLBT supportive. Mayor Chris Coleman (DFL) celebrated the reopening of a GLBT bar in St. Paul tonight by tending bar there for a half hour or so!

Lou Hoffman

The race between Coleman and Franken is close. You can donate to Franken's campaign here.

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