The Truth, Mainly - 08/11/1997

Mayor's actions designed to not ruin possible run for governor
by Leon Satterfield

Years ago, I passed out leaflets urging people in my precinct to vote for young Mike Johanns. My ego is still involved in his career. I still want him to look good.

But my ego’s had a bad time lately. The mayor isn’t looking good.

I try to make excuses. I tell myself it’s a tough job being mayor.

You have a lot of tough explaining to do. You have to explain to your firefighters why they should get a lower hourly wage than firefighters in Davenport and Peoria and Omaha. You have to explain to taxpayers why it’s better to sell our hospital for $42 million than to lease it for $60-$80 million. You have to explain to church-state-separation nuts how a mayoral proclamation endorsing a March for Jesus is just a statement of personal belief, not an official city sanction of one religion over others.

And all that tough explaining takes a toll. Your logic circuits get overloaded, you blow a fuse, and you start talking like Pat Robertson.

Look at the mayor’s explanation this month of why he wouldn’t sign a proclamation recognizing the gay-lesbian Lincoln Pride Rally in June: He objects to the group’s politics.

Their politics are that they don’t want to be discriminated against. They don’t want to be evicted or fired for being homosexual.

The mayor said he just couldn’t support giving them “special rights.”

I know, I know—”special rights” in this context is code language meaning “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK,” a signal that all the speaker’s hormones are in the conventional places.

But the mayor surely knows what happened last year to Colorado’s Amendment 2. It outlawed anti-discrimination ordinances giving legal protection to homosexuals. It argued that the ordinances gave homosexuals “special rights.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Amendment 2 was unconstitutional.

“We cannot accept the view that Amendment 2’s prohibitions on specific legal protections does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority. “We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These are protections taken for granted by most people either because they already have them or do not need them.”

To get an up-close look at a world without the unspecial rights the Lincoln Pride folks are after, check out the June 9 Journal-Star story about what happened at St. Katherine’s Living Center, a home for the mentally ill in Davenport, Iowa.

An administrator there fired six of the staff for being homosexual.

“When I came here,” he told the Quad City Times, “there was probably at least three—excuse my French—faggots working here and I had at least three dykes working here.”

He fired them, he said, because “this isn’t the kind of atmosphere I want to project when a client or a family member comes to my nurses station and sees a 45-year-old faggot that has got better skin than you and I and is a man but presents itself more like a woman.”

“They’re not a part of the Bible,” he said of homosexuals. “They’re not part of society, as far as I’m concerned.”

Huck Finn’s Pap couldn’t have said it better.

The state Ombudsman for Elder Affairs, Carl McPherson, complained to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission that the firings were for sexual orientation, not job performance. He pointed out that the home gets $600,000 a year in state taxes.

Paid by people of all sexual persuasions.

Nothing will come of his complaint because, he said, “state law provides no protection for gay and lesbian people.”

But, you may be saying, surely the mayor doesn’t want anything like that happening in Lincoln. And surely he knows that public officials are supposed to pay attention when the U.S. Supreme Court decides what’s lawful and what isn’t. So why does he say anti-discrimination laws give gays and lesbians “special rights”?


There will be a vacancy in the governor’s office next year. The mayor is thinking about it.

“God’s will be done,” he told the Journal-Star this summer. “It may be that He wants me someplace else. I’m ready to follow His path with joy, wherever He leads.”

Two not-so-tough explanations: (1) the mayor has a Moses complex and believes he may be God’s nominee for governor; and/or (2) the mayor knows that Amendment 2 got 53 percent of the vote in Colorado.


Lincoln English Professor Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays.

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