The downside leading to the primary next month is the sniping in the GLBT community. It is certain to divide loyalties and split votes for the primary.
The latest weapon is Patrick's service on the board of United Airlines' parent company, UAL, Inc. Bay Windows fired first with a strong piece favoring those who support other candidates accusing Patrick of looking the other way on a key gay issue. Today's Boston Globe follow-up on that adds a little detail.
The basics are:
- As a board member, Patrick joined in 1997, while UAL fought a City of San Francisco demand that it offer domestic-partner benefits, which would have benefited gay couples.
- When it came to the board for action in 1999, Patrick agreed that financially troubled UAL should fight the demand to keep from having individual cities dictate personal policy in each.
- UAL lost this issue in federal court.
- Patrick led the effort to have UAL offer company-wide domestic-partner benefits in 1999, which it did.
Cred Note: Corporate management is part of my background. This includes a management degree, being the editor of a large handbook for corporate directors, years of writing about management and business for magazines, and service on non-profit (but not large corporation) boards.
Understandably, Patrick supporters and others can say he was in the trenches fighting the fight. There was a short-term loss and long-term gain. The other candidates talk much and do little.
The other side is ready to worry this like a puppy with a sock. Grrrrr.
Reilly supporter, Rep. Cheryl Coakley Rivera said, "He is hiding behind the law to discriminate." She is a lesbian, a Democrat and from Reilly's hometown of Springfield.
Out West, Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, said, "People who feel passionately about things will resign from boards they disagree with." He was one of the authors of the San Francisco ordinance that UAL fought.
"I don't think Patrick can have it both ways, which is to tout his position on civil rights as a board member and duck this issue," stated Gabrieli support and gay-rights activist Mary Breslauer.
Besides the actual results he got, Patrick has been forced to speak out on this. From our view, this is good. He has not defended himself vigorously enough so far in this campaign. We don't believe that Massachusetts voters will distinguish between real criticisms and slander and rumor by themselves.
Patrick claimed that the UAL board had a "rigorous debate" about the ordinance and that he urged the company to change its view. He says that he "advocated for -- successfully -- that we provide these benefits companywide...The good thing about this whole controversy is it raised a serious policy question. And on the policy question the board got it right, and I'm proud about that."
So, we have to ask at what point do you put your marbles in the sack and go home? Voters have to judge for themselves whether it would have been better for Patrick to walk away from UAL over the ordinance fight or stick around and go for the infrastructure change.
Of course, because he won in the end, Patrick can say he did the right thing. Clearly there are people like Kors who can't forgive him for how he got there.
Oddly enough, the other two Dem candidates have had their shots at such battles. Reilly has largely pulled the Nuremberg (only following orders) defense on his inaction or malice on SSM cases and ballot initiatives. Gabrieli on the other hand has opened his checkbook for rights and SSM causes. Even though some legislators downplay his role, he did actively lobby in favor of SSM. He has some credentials and as a result standing in the GLBT political community.
In the next few weeks, this latest spat may be just more spit and spite. Patrick lovers say he was in the belly of the beast, fought the good fight and emerged with a gay-rights victory. His haters (or just lovers of another candidate) say he was hypocritical on rights.
Patrick folk can borrow Gabrieli's slogan, rights matter. If that's so, they should walk away quietly from this one. There are those who say and those who do.
Recommended Reading: After this post, I saw that Ryan's Take has a lengthy analysis of the Globe's hacking at Patrick, peppered with some of Ryan's best ranting. Good stuff.
Tags: massmarrier, same sex marriage, Deval Patrick, Chris Gabrieli, Tom Reilly, UAL, Bay Windows