Does it have to be a bloodbath?

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By Tim Redmond

Already, I'm hearing whistpers from both sides of the Leno-Migden contest, and already, they're getting nasty. Mark Leno told me this week that he will run an upbeat campaign, and that any negative attacks on Midgen "won't come from me." I suspect I will hear the same from Migden. But it's common in campaigns for elected officials to try to take the high road and let others -- their allies and suppoerters -- do the dirty work.

So queer/labor activist Robert Haaland is asking not only the candidates, but their supporters in the queer and progressive communities, to pledge to keep this fight out of the gutter. Here's a piece he sent me; I think everyone ought to read it, take it seriously, and sign on.

Our community was divided. Our LGBT clubs were separated. The streets of the Castro were full of opposing forces and consternation. During the 2001-2002 campaign for the 13th Assembly District seat, we were split and it was a difficult time.

Following that election campaign, we made a decision to begin the process of healing those divisions. The leaders of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, and the leaders of the campaigns, met together to salve these wounds and form a new alliance. This was not easy. It took years and much work within each to heal, listen, understand, and move forward together.

In the years since that election, our community has been in a renaissance. Our two LGBT Democratic Clubs have worked together like never before. We have seen tremendous and amazing accomplishments through those efforts. Our coordinated efforts as a community in opposition to the statewide Special Election in 2005 are an astounding example of what we can do when we work together.

Additionally, as efforts have moved forward in the LGBT community on issues such as marriage equality on the stairs of our City Hall, opposing racial discrimination in the Castro, speaking out against anti-LGBT commentary from the news media about our LGBT families, supporting statewide efforts for the advancement of our LGBT rights, and stopping attacks from the right-wing on our community, we have been able to work side-by-side in a way that was unthinkable during the 2001-2002 campaign.

This newfound coordination and organization between our Clubs and within our community has been crucial in working for the betterment and strength of our community as a whole. And we will not allow this community to be torn asunder again. Our friendships are too strong now. Our knowledge of the power of our coordinated efforts and their success is too deep. And our realization that we can move beyond minor disagreements and continue forward as friends and colleagues and community brothers and sisters is definite.

As our community begins the process of working on the upcoming state Senate campaign for June of 2008, we will not allow this to break our bonds. We demand that the candidates in the race do the following:

--Pledge that there will be no negative campaigning, against each other or supporters on any side
--Pledge that they individually will work to strengthen our community’s ties with one another
--Pledge that they will not work to form wedges and divisions among us as a community
--Pledge that they will regularly form bonds with all sides in the campaign
--Pledge respect, honor, decency, and above all, civility, towards all parties

We also urge our community’s leaders to pledge that they do the same. Regardless of anyone’s personal affiliations during this campaign, we will continue to form our alliances and friendships and move this community forward together. We are not going back. We have too much to gain by moving forward together.