What Is Being Described by Some Boston LGBT Who Attended Saturday's Boston Pride March 2011, The Appearance of John K. O'Toole, Candidate for District Three Boston City Councillor, as "A Misleading Representation of His Support for the LGBT Community," the Candidate Himself Begs to Differ
Whether it was activism on the part of a so far "anonymous" person advocating for the LGBT Community or a political stunt perpetrated by one of the campaigns in the Boston City Councillor, District Three race, Saturday's Boston Pride March yielded the name of one particular candidate, John K. O'Toole, who did in fact sign VoteOnMarriage.org's Anti-Gay Marriage Petition back in 2005.
KnowThyNeighbor.org received an email Saturday from Alex Scheufler who attended Boston Pride 2011 of a photo of one of at least a dozen laminated posters along the parade route which copied candidate, O'Toole's, name and address from the KnowThyNeighbor.org website which houses the Massachusetts Secretary of State's Database of the list of signatories on the Ballot Initiative from 2005 which if successful would have retracted the Goodridge Decision and ended Marriage Equality here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These posters which faced outward towards the crowd included a red circled X and clearly and boldly spelled out "Don't Elect John O'Toole, He Works Against Us."
As a point of clarification, no one at KnowThyNeighbor.org was responsible for these posters. However, this type of activism IS exactly what our core mission advocates and encourages. KnowThyNeighbor applauds those who take it upon themselves to stand by their own personal activism. We provide the lists of those who sign anti-LGBT petitions and our blog is replete with facts and names of those who contribute to, are involved with and are complicit in campaigns that would hurt our whole community. Some of those names would surprise you.
But as always, I ask those activists who are being brave and standing up for themselves and our community to remember--KnowThyNeighbor is about empowerment through dialogue. Dialogue IS the silver bullet. It is important to hear from a signer why he or she signed this anti-gay petition. You may all remember Mike Cahillane for District Attorney who said he signed the anti-gay petition knowingly in an exchange for that signature gatherer's signature on the Greyhound Rights petition that Cahillane was sponsoring--not good! And of course, can we not forget Mary Z. Connaughton for Auditor, who refused to answer why she signed the anti-gay petition, claiming it was none of anyone's business, even when grilled by NECN--equally not good. But these candidates and politicians all have phone numbers listed on line and Candidate for District Three Boston City Councillor, John K. O'Toole is no exception.
At 4:33 PM, June 11, 2011, Candidate John K. O'Toole, returned KnowThyNeighbor's call. He was unaware of the posters which were lining the Boston Pride Parade route. He was made aware of the fact that his name appeared on KnowThyNeighbor as a signer of the anti-gay petition about 4 months ago and he claims to have faxed an affidavit to KnowThyNeighbor about 1 month ago. We are checking into that. Mr. O'Toole would like to see his actual signature, but I reminded him that this is nearly impossible as those records at the Secretary of the Commonwealth are most likely destroyed.
John O'Toole claims to have signed many petitions during the 2005 ballot initiative cycle including beer and wine in supermarkets, dog rights etc. He made it very clear to KnowThyNeighbor.org that he is not happy with his name being associated with the Anti-Gay Marriage petition and that he has taken very forthright actions to support Marriage Equality from political and personal perspectives. The former as being a co-signer of a 2007 petition which was drawn up by the Dorchester pro-LGBT activist group, DotOUT, as a tool to lobby Senator Jack Hart to switch his vote on Marriage Equality before the last vote. John O'Toole has also marched in three separate Boston Pride Parades and when asked by us, he immediately spoke out in favor of the current Transgender Equal Rights Bill which is in committee and before the Massachusetts Legislature.
Richard O'Mara, Dorchester Activist and DotOUT Steering Committee Member, had much to say about this. According to O'Mara, DotOUT has not yet given its endorsement in the District Three City Councillor race and from a personal standpoint, the appearance of John O'Toole's name on the KnowThyNeighbor list of signers of the anti-gay marriage petition disturbs him. "I have not jumped on to support John (O'Toole) yet and am not comfortable with him yet due to his signing," said O'Mara, "To the best of our knowledge, he signed, and John needs to do some explaining. He needs to address it." O'Mara also said that his own feelings about John O'Toole's signing are known all the way up to Mayor Menino's office and mentioned the Mayor himself and Justin Holmes as being aware of this.
In the many phone calls that KnowThyNeighbor made to provide fair coverage of this story, it was suggested to me from two separate unrelated sources that fingers are being pointed at one campaign for having created these anti-O'Toole posters which were dispersed and mounted throughout the Boston Pride Parade Route. Both sources suggested the Craig Galvin campaign as the alleged perpetrator. One source said, "Craig Galvin's campaign has been making a very big deal about John O'Toole being a signer of the anti-gay petition for weeks now." Craig Galvin, who also marched with supporters at Boston Pride this Saturday is running for the same City Councillor seat as John O'Toole.
When I confronted Craig Galvin about these alleged accusations, Galvin stated that no one from his campaign that he knows of was responsible for these posters. Galvin also stated that he and his fellow marchers were very aware of the posters along the route and that they saw the posters on Saturday "like everyone else did." Everyone else (apparently) did not include John O'Toole or O'Toole's seventeen fellow marchers according to O'Toole. KnowThyNeighbor needs to point out that these posters were strategically mounted to sign posts along the route facing outward so that parade onlookers would see them, not the participants in the march itself. Craig Galvin is a Marriage Equality supporter and wanted me to know that it is a "big issue" to him as he is a supporter of Constitutional Rights. Like with O'Toole, I asked Galvin how he felt about the current Transgender Equal Rights Bill before the Legislature and while his initial response to me was, "I thought you were going to ask me questions about the Pride Parade" and "I need to look into the Transgender Bill and get back to you," he did call me back later that evening and told me that he supports it.
Some things never change. Politics will always be politics and the truth may not always be told. I am sure we will be hearing much more about this race for the Boston City Councillor, District Three seat. LGBT people have alot of soul searching to do and hopefully so do the candidates. One thing though, it seems that we have not forgotten about the wounds that were inflicted upon us in our continued fight for equality.
Tom Lang, Director