Gay Democrat: Angle will ’lay waste’ to Nevada’s LGBT community

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Thursday September 30, 2010

Is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-Nev.] an unfair scapegoat for last week's failure to allow debate on a bill to repeal the military's ban on openly gay and lesbians in the U.S. Senate?

The Log Cabin Republicans criticized Reid for his "parochial political actions" in his refusal "to compromise with Republicans by holding a full and open debate" on the National Defense Authorization Act last Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Others criticized the Senate Majority Leader for politicizing DADT going into a crucial mid-term election; but Derek Washington, chair of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Southern Nevada, told EDGE his faith in Reid has not changed.

"We are such strong supporters of Harry Reid and his ability to do the right thing," he said. "Senator Reid personally told me this is something he wanted to take care of. Every time the senator or his staff has told me something, it has happened. I know at the end, Sen. Reid will get done what he sets out to do."

Reid vs. Angle: A battle royal
This partisan endorsement is certainly not a surprise, considering polls show Reid remains statistically deadlocked against Tea Party-backed Sharron Angle in the Nevada Senate race. Angle, a former state Assemblymember, has repeatedly come under fire for her comments about autistic children and gay adoption; opposing abortion for rape and supporting a constitutional amendment against marriage for same-sex couples, among other issues.

"Sharron Angle is the lowest hanging fruit from the fruit trees-she's like a peach with knuckles," said Washington, who said he knows "perfectly normal people who are social liberals" who support her. "She's just weird."

So the obvious question remains why Angle remains popular among Nevada voters ahead of the general election.

"Nevada has always had a healthy independent streak; Nevada has never been a fan of Washington," said Mark Ciavola, president of Right Pride, which is the state's only gay conservative organization, as he described the anti-incumbent sentiment in the state. "Sharron Angle doesn't represent an agenda; she represents Nevada. She's being elected for that purpose. She understands that. She understands voters aren't going to tolerate someone like Harry Reid going to Washington."

Ciavola stressed the economy-and not Angle's opposition to marriage and gay adoption-will factor heavily in the minds of Nevada voters on Nov. 2.

"Whether gays can/cannot adopt will be irrelevant if they don't have a job to provide for that child or don't have a home to provide for that child," he said.

Angle will 'lay waste' to Nevada's LGBT community
Washington predicted dire consequences for LGBT Nevadans if Angle defeats Reid.

"This woman will lay waste to the gay community here; I can say that without reserve," he said. "This woman seeks nothing short of a right wing fascist state where here extreme views are the norm."

Chris Miller, president of the Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus, agreed.

"They [LGBT Nevadans] are afraid if she's elected, she will take the LGBT community in Nevada and around the country a step backwards," he told EDGE from Las Vegas.

More than 150 people attended a meet-and-greet with Reid at the Arts Factory in Las Vegas on Friday, Sept. 3. And volunteers from the SDCSN; the Human Rights Campaign; the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and the Wise Womyn continue to phone bank and canvass for the Senate Majority Leader. LGBT Reid supporters also plan a "get-out-the vote" variety show that will feature local entertainers and performers, "Glee" and football watching parties.

"She's got to be stopped," said Washington. "If she wins, it can't be hopeful for our country and it will be disastrous for our community here. I get physically ill at the thought of looking at the election result and seeing that woman won."

Ciavola scoffed at Washington's predictions.

"Before they [gays] have a family, they need to have a home, they need to have a job, they need to survive," he said in response to a question about whether Angle terrifies LGBT Nevadans. "Those are basic needs not being met in Nevada. That is terror and for a single gay man to be worried about adoption when he has no job or no house is the least of his concerns in this election cycle."

Ciavola elaborated further.

"Terror is anytime a liberal doesn't win," he sarcastically said.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.