Stock photo, blog post by John Hoff
Following my blog post about Ken Lawrence and his less-than-promising write-in campaign for State Rep in 59B, info was forwarded to me about a conversation with Lawrence that is rather insightful into his personality.
The conversation took place on the GLBTNorthsiders Facebook page.
Rather than characterizing the conversation, I will just publish it, word for word, and readers can analyze it themselves...
(THREAD TOPIC WAS AS FOLLOWS)
I think it would be good for this group to enter into the discussion and dialogue over gay marrieage within the black community. It would be hard to live on the North Side and not have that issue be a concern. As an African American gay man I often feel like I am always bridging the gap with few allies from within the white glbt community.
(CONVERSATION ON THREAD TOPIC WAS AS FOLLOWS)
Connie Beckers Agreed. How do you think we should get the dialoge started?
Ken Lawrence I think it has to start from within the glbt community of North Minneapolis. We need to meet to discuss and educate each other on what is going on around us. I keep up primarily because I have been in the Twin Cities for the last 32 years and know the various key figures within the black community. I would be willing to pull together a meeting share what I know and hear what others have to present on the topic.
Connie Beckers Someone has to get the ball rolling and people will show up. Several folks have hosted fundraisers for MN United with the help of Dameun Strange. Maybe he'd be a good one to get it started?
Dameun Strange Yes, at the MN United Northside Leadership meeting this past week, we did discuss creating this dialogue. Anyone interested can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, there have been leaders who have reached out to me in the community who have been very interested in doing work with the campaign including Dennis Anderson who has actually been volunteering with MN United. So, the work has begun but I recognize we have a long road ahead of us. Connie Beckers, I like the house party idea. In my experience, it has been a great way to create dialogue and give information on what the campaign is doing.
Ken Lawrence I do not believe that MN United For All Families is the right group to lead a discussion on this matter. MUFAF has taken neutral stance on the voter ID bill so as not to offend some of their coalition partners who would be against the marriage amendment but support the voter ID amendment. In other words they would keep open the possibility for the right to marry while taking away some people's right to vote. This dialogue needs to be about more than marriage ultimately anyway. It is about a trans inclusive ENDA, removing DOMA and a host of other issues that need to be grasped among black folks and others on the North Side of Minneapolis. The glbt community of the Northside needs to be in the lead. MUFAF would not be that organization.
Ken Lawrence For those looking for an avenue other than MUFAF to bring together their interest in the vote no campaigns on the two amendments, Join the Impact: Twin Cities is the best way to get involved. They meet every Sunday at 1pm @ Grace Trinity Church (28th, just one block west of Hennepin). Join the Impact has a Facebook page also.
Ken Lawrence At the next meeting of Join the Impact there will be an extensive discussion of ways to have a sustained involvement in the two NO campaigns and for what comes afterward.
Dameun Strange Actually, we are a coalition organization of more than 420 groups and we partner with organizations such as Take Action and OutFront MN who are tackling the Voter ID Amendment. We also have a department which is dedicated to creating these dialogue with communities of color and the Leadership team for the Northside is currently made up of people from all backgrounds including as I mentioned, Dennis Anderson. Our work in the Northside is working to defeat the Anti-marriage amendment in Novemeber but also to lay the ground work for a sustained movement looking past November 6th. I will be speaking at the OutFront event on June 29th.
Ken Lawrence For whatever reason Dennis Anderson's name keeps being brought up as a reason to give legitimacy to MUFAF. As a black openly gay man who has been involved in the Twin Cities' glbt community for over 20 years, including serving on boards and being the person who guided a needs assessment with Juan Jackson/GLCAC (now called OutFront MN) for the Minnesota Department of Health that started the first HIV/STD services for gay and bisexual men of color, I believe that my understanding of MUFAF political conundrum is quite correct. If people want to walk into MUFAF's mess you can work with them. If you want a clearer, cleaner path you can start your own dialogue and work with Join the Impact. For me this is an issue of integrity.
Connie Beckers I wish to concentrate my efforts on the marriage amendment and not detract from that with the voter ID issue. I am against the voters ID issue and am working on a political campaign that is also against it and the marriage amendment, but I don't see the two as related. I'll stick with MUAF, thanks.
Ken Lawrence It is impossible to say as a resident of the North Side that you can divide up the two. The problem, especially within DFL circles, is that there was a bait and switch done in the late 90's that switched the importance of what diversity, minority and equality meant. The litmus test for whether people were on board with equality switched from issues of greatest concern for people of color to those issues of concern to white glbt folks. That is how marriage catapulted to be the sole focus of the glbt community over very important issues like ENDA (ideally with inclusion of transgendered folks).
(Paragraph break by JNS)
If you want legitimacy within the black community you can not divide up rights issues the way MUFAF has done. Within the glbt community it could very well be possible that if we push only for marriage we could win the battle against the marriage amendment and never have the votes for a marriage even though demographics are moving in favor of marriage. The voter ID will effect tens of thousands of students who arrive from out of state each year who might not be able to vote by November if they do not have a valid Minnesota state issued ID. When the referendum was put together they knew what they were doing. It was done deceptively to make people believe that it is just a matter of having an ID. It is far more than that. The last two tight races were decided by less that 1,000 votes. We can not afford to divide up the rights issues. To work with MUFAF you would be doing just that.
Dameun Strange I think you are looking at it in the wrong way, Ken. It is not about dividing the issues. It's about devoting the maximum amount of resources to both. There is campaign devoted to working exclusively on the Voter ID Amendment which can dedicate all of their resources to organizing and raising money around that issue. Likewise, MN United can dedicate all of our resources to the Anti-marriage amendment. Two very strong campaigns working to protect people's freedom. It's not about division AT ALL; it's about strength in organizing.
Connie Beckers To all on this list, mr Lawrence emailed me to tell me what's wrong with most Glbt white people and I'm not playing his little reindeer games. I'm doing my part to fight this marriage amendment and will not get derailed by turning it into an issue of race by not merging the issue with voter ID.
Dameun Strange I am truly sorry that you had to deal with this. It is very important the we continue to have conversations about diminishing distance and not about creating walls and divisions. That is how we win.
(End of conversation)
Of course, the fact my blog is even paying attention to this is more attention than Ken Lawrence is entitled to. Citing "integrity" and some kind of failure to see eye-to-eye with the DFL, he's running a write-in campaign. This is like the difference between getting on the bus versus waving at the bus as it goes by.
One of the problems I have with Lawrence (besides his adamant refusal to grasp the rudiments of political science, i.e., write-in candidates rarely have a snowball's chance) is that his weak campaign is being run under the banner of GLBT issues. In so doing, Lawrence makes the GLBT community in North Minneapolis look WEAK, because his write-in campaign is, by its very nature, WEAK.
But those of us deeply involved with the revitalization of North Minneapolis know the GLBT community is very strong in NoMi, frequently on the leading edge of turning the neighborhood around. Lawrence does the GLBT community a disservice with his weak campaign and, if he's open to being persuaded (I highly doubt it) should be convinced to drop out of the race (the one he's barely in, anyway) and, if he wants to run so bad, then run in the next go-round and GET ON THE BALLOT LIKE A SMART PERSON.