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Saturday, September 15, 2007

OH-05 GOP: Commish Tim Brown Drops Bid, Says He's Gay

BOWLING GREEN (TDB) -- Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown publicly acknowledged he is gay and now says he won't be a candidate for the vacant OH-05 congressional seat. He was outed by an anonymous commenter Friday on the Ohio Daily blog. He discussed his sexual orientation in a story published today by the Sentinel-Tribune, the local newspaper in Bowling Green in NW Ohio.

'This is how I was born,' he said. 'This is an orientation.'
Brown realizes that some people will view him as a 'gay commissioner,' instead of a 'commissioner who happens to be gay.'
In some ways, the decision to openly discuss his orientation came as a relief, Brown said, since he has wondered in the past how political adversaries might use it against him.
'I am comfortable with my orientation and have the full support of my family and friends,' he said. "It's not a secret, it is a personal matter to me and I intend to keep it that way.'
Brown emphasized that his sexual orientation in no way diminishes his effectiveness as county commissioner.
'Serving the people of Northwest Ohio is something I cherish and have dedicated the last 20 years to and I hope to continue that service,' he said.

The Daily Bellwether, which placed a call to Brown that was not returned Friday, agrees that sexual orientation should in no way diminish his effectiveness as a public official. And it is more than unfortunate that in Ohio's current political climate a possible congressional campaign had to fold before it had a chance to begin. Brown, of course, is a Republican. And his party has not been seen as exactly welcoming for gays and lesbians.

Meanwhile, there are people telling The Bellwether that Brown made a mistake by abandoning his plans to enter the contest to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor, who died suddenly Sept. 5. They contend he should have run openly as a gay man and forced people to consider, and perhaps confront their prejudices. Even if he lost at the polls, they figure Ohioans would have seen, and learned, that gay Ohioans are not some kind of terrible figures whose sexual orientation makes them unfit for national political office. And that would have been a victory in its own right, perhaps greater than winning a Congressional seat. Bottomline: The bigots won and Brown missed an opportunity to openly combat prejudice and stereotyping with a run for Congress in an extremely conservative corner of the state.

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