Already no friend to Georgia’s gay residents, Sen. Saxby Chambliss is igniting a firestorm of criticism for an underwhelming response to a staffer’s anti-gay online slur. Gay groups are gearing up for a fight.
The statewide gay rights group Georgia Equality is urging supporters to call any of Chambliss’ five offices to remind him “that he was elected to represent all Georgia” and should take action against the staff member. The Queer Justice League is hosting a meeting on Monday to plot a response “to the bigoted comments” coming out of Chanbliss’ metro Atlanta office.
As Chambliss (photo) and Republican senators beat back an effort Tuesday to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a commenter on Joe. My. God. left this screed on a post about the vote: “All faggots must die.”
A little web sleuthing by blog author Joseph Jervis tracked the IP address of the person who left the comment to an area near the Atlanta office of Chambliss along Interstate 75 near the Cobb Galleria. Readers of the popular blog helped hone in on Chambliss’ office after some initial speculation placed the comment’s origination at the nearby office of Sen. Johnny Isakson.
On Wednesday, Chambliss issued a statement confirming that the blog comment came from his Atlanta office. But he declined to take action against any of the 42 staff members that work there, instead deflecting the issue to the Senate sergeant at arms.
“The [sergeant at arms] has worked side by side with our personnel to determine whether the comment in question emanated from our office. That appears to be the case. There has not been a determination as to who posted the comment. That part of the review is ongoing, and is now in the hands of the Senate sergeant at arms.”
The comment created a firestorm of controversy and extensive media coverage, including a piece from reporter Jeff Hullinger that aired Tuesday on 11Alive. The story included interviews with Matt Hennie, Project Q Atlanta’s founder, and Philip Rafshoon, the owner of Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse. [Watch video above]
On Thursday, Georgia Equality asked people to call Chambliss’ offices and air their concerns about the slur and the senator’s response to it.
U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss’ office has confirmed that it was the source of the slur “All gays must die.” They have not determined who is responsible for posting the slur and have turned the matter over to be investigated by the Senate sergeant at arms.
Remind Senator Chambliss that he was elected to represent ALL Georgians. This is disgraceful conduct, yet there is obviously a tone set in his office where the staff feel they can get away with this. What is he going to do to make sure this does not happen again?
East Georgia Office
Middle Georgia Office
North Georgia Office
South Georgia Office
Washington D.C. Office Main: 202-224-3521
Also Thursday, the Queer Justice League announced a three-hour meeting on Monday to draft a plan to take action.
We encourage anyone who is as outraged as we are by the lack of action from Senator Chambliss to gather so we can plan an appropriate response. This hate speech occurred in our backyard and this is our battle. We here in Atlanta must stand up to let our Senator and the nation know that hate speech will not be tolerated here.
During a Senate hearing about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in February, Chambliss expressed concern that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would cause a host of problems and “create unacceptable risk to the armed forces.”
Chambliss acknowledged that while the military enforces “restrictions on personal behavior that would not be acceptable in civilian society,” it “must maintain policies that exclude persons whose presence in the armed forces would create unacceptable risk to the armed forces’ high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion.”
“In my opinion,” he said, “the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would very likely create an unacceptable risk to those high standards.”
Chambliss also opined that allowing openly gay soldiers would lead to “alcohol use, adultery, fraternization, and body art.” When criticized for the comments, Chambliss remained defiant.
Chambliss received a failing score on the latest Congressional scorecard from the Human Rights Campaign.