Aug 17, 2007
V 35 Issue 33

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Dear SGN,

I share the dismay of your readers with the SEAMEC endorsements for the primary elections on August 21. I have served on the SEAMEC steering committee, served as co-chair, volunteered since 1988 on interviews, and given money every year. I know how hard every one of the committee members works (very hard!). I know they are underappreciated. I know the process is messy. But the results this time fly in the face of good judgement and their own guidelines.

Robert Sondheim, owner of The Rosebud Restaurant and candidate for Seattle City Council position #1, is clearly deserving of our wholehearted endorsement. This race is most certainly "a clear choice of importance to the GLBT community" and Sondheim has far and away the most "distinguished history of activism on behalf of the GLBT community." None of the other candidates for this position come close to Sondheim.

For that matter, Dow Constantine and Gael Tarleton both deserve endorsements as well. Both scored straight "A" across the board in interviews - far better than any of their opponents. Constantine has worked diligently year after year in the State Legislature and on the King County council for issues of importance to us. Tarleton is so far superior to Block on every issue important to our community that it stuns credulity that SEAMEC endorsed him over her.

SEAMEC needs to pay better attention to its reason for existence.

Janice Van Cleve
Former co-chair of SEAMEC


Dear SGN,

I read several letters to the editor in the August 10th edition, where people wrote in to protest the SEAMEC ratings when given to an openly Gay or Lesbian candidate. What I would like people to know, is that SEAMEC rates candidates on issues of importance to the LGBT community without regard to their sexual orientation, and based on a standard questionnaire used for all our interviews.

Just because a person is LGBT, does not - and should not - warrant an automatic endorsement and/or top rating. The same questions were asked of every candidate, and their answers were graded by a diverse panel of peers who volunteer to participate on the panel and grade the candidates based on their knowledge and the answers they give in a live interview, as well as a written questionnaire. In all fairness, each of them had equal opportunity to shine in their interview. Sadly, some were in need of more vigorous polishing, and many whom identify as LGBT or LGBT-friendly hadn't even given much thought to the issues before accepting the invitation to interview with us.

My own dismay was brought to the surface as we asked candidates about H.I.V., Transgender Issues, and Equality, and found they knew little to nothing about it, or even worse; hadn't considered it at all. SEAMEC rates candidates on issues of importance to the LGBT community, and has done so since 1977. Their ratings are as valid as any other in determining a candidates knowledge, sentiment and history regarding the important issues that our community is concerned with.

Perhaps those who didn't get the rating they were hoping for are qualified to run for office on other planks in their platform, but we do NOT rate them on that ability. Should there be any question as to why they received the ratings they did, I would be personally happy to review their answers with them if they would like to contact me to discuss it. I believe they may be, and probably should be, wholly embarrassed at what they find.

Dennis Cavalier
Candidate Interview Coordinator
The Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee


Dear SGN,

In reporting on the LOGO-TV Forum of Democratic candidates, Robert Raketty refers to Melissa Etheridge questioning Bill Richardson as to whether homosexuality is genetic or a choice. In doing so Raketty refers to "the conventional wisdom of most LGBT people that sexual orientation is something that is determined before birth."

I have written on this topic (indeed, the SGN published a copy of my essay about 7 years ago, and versions of it have been in the P-I and the Times as well), and I have never heard of any data indicating that a majority of LGBT folks believe our preferences and activities are biological; where does your reporter get his basis for this statement?

"Homosexual" is really an adjective describing activities, not completely suitable as a noun delineating persons. Linguistically dividing humans into two separate categories defies the lived experiences of many of us. The fact is, there does not appear to be any such simplistic single rationale for characterizing this fulsome variety of behaviors.

Richardson's attempted response was the most awkward part of the whole TV event, but he did blurt out that he is not a biologist and therefore doesn't know. Etheridge then replied that she knew she was made just the way she is by her Creator. But the topic of the forum was not Ethridge's religious beliefs (although her Creator is certainly powerful enough to make humans with free will, I would suppose). The issue at hand was discrimination against LGBT people.

Anti-discrimination laws combat hatefulness against categories of choice (religion is a notable one; some jurisdictions, such as Seattle, also list politcal affiliation and marital status) as well as those based on biology (sex, "race"). And also descriptors of neither type (e.g., national origin).

LGBT people should stop trying to play amateur biologists and focus on combating discrimination because it is wrong, regardless of the origins of our natures. Apparently, too many people want to suggest that "it isn't our fault"; but the long histories of racism and sexism should show that even biology isn't a sufficient barrier to expressions of bigotry.

Phil Bereano


Dear SGN,

I always enjoy reading "Sex Talk" articles by Simon Sheppard in the Seattle Gay News. And, as the founder and director of the Circumcision Information Resource Center of Washington, I was extremely interested in the article in the August 10th edition of the SGN entitled, "The Circumcision Controversy."

In a way I'm glad that Mr. Sheppard chose the title "The Circumcision Controversy" because it's only a controversy in North America! It's not a controversy in Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe, or Asia.

It only seems to be a controversy in North America for superstitious reasons of health and religion. About 85% of men in the world are intact / uncircumcised. The rest of the world's medical community thinks that the American Medical Industry is crazy! Millions of dollars are wasted on this very painful and needless surgery.

I'm reminded of the old Packard automobile sales slogan which was, "Ask the man who has one!" I say this because the majority of adult men who are not circumcised are perfectly happy with the status of their organ, and so are their partners!

More information on the subject of circumcision, for those who are interested or curious, may be obtained on the internet at

John Mark
Founder & Director of the Circumcision Information
Resource Center of Washington
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