“You and your group should be ashamed for sending this pile of excrement...comparing loving couples and parents to pedophiles.” - Josh Derke (D) Candidate for Michigan House.
A Democratic Candidate running for a seat in the Michigan legislature took a principled stand in support of the LGBT community this week that deserves our notice. Twenty-six-year-old Josh Derke did what we wish all of our politicians would do. He didn't stop to count the votes. He didn't consult the pollsters. He didn't put the controversy off til after the election. He stood on principle, consequences be damned.
According to M-Live, Josh received a questionnaire from the Public Advocate of the United States, a Republican advocacy group run by a charmer by the name of Eugene Delgaudio. That's him on the left posing as if he were an actual government official, he's not. And don't be fooled by the name of his organization; the Public Advocate of the U.S. might sound like a government agency, but they're a right-wing hate group who fancies themselves as a sort of anti-attorney general. Impeach Eric Holder messages are a staple of their Facebook page.
The Public Advocate of the U.S. operates out of Virginia, but Michigan is considering adding sexuality and gender identity to its non-discrimination law, and Delguadio and his group have been actively trying to keep that from happening. To that end, he has been quizzing candidates for Michigan state government about where they stand on the issues, including our hero, Josh Derke.
With a cover letter like that, you probably have an inkling about what's coming. Here's the survey Josh was asked to complete. Pay special attention to question #4, Josh certainly did.
When he read the Public Advocate's survey questions, Josh had exactly the same reaction to question #4 that I bet you did. "One of these things is not like the other" Josh noted, yet Eugene Delgaudio gave respondents only two choices, "yes" or "no" - and either answer would require the respondent to lump gay and trans people with the pedophiles.
“I was taken aback." Said Josh. "I’ve got some surveys about standing for family values, but I didn’t think I’d get one that had this kind of rhetoric. The combination of those three things, I find that offensive. They’re not the same.”
Most politicians would simply have ignored the survey and tossed it into the circular file. But Josh did what is rare in the political world, he responded, and then he published that response on his Facebook page.
Here's the letter he sent to Delguadio, pulling no punches about where he stands:
It's unreasonable to hope anything penetrates the mindset of people like Eugene Delgaudio, so it will surprise absolutely no one that he told M-Live he stands by his questionnaire.
“We’re against any kind of bizarre behavior being protected under anti-discrimination laws. If you’re saying homosexuality is not bizarre, I understand, that’s your position,” Delguadio told M-Live. "We’re not singling out gays and saying gays are pedophiliacs, or that they’re supporting pedophilia. We’re just asking, would you agree to oppose that?”
Josh Derke, who recently graduated from the University of Michigan is a first-time candidate, characterized as a "significant underdog" in his race against entrenched Republican incumbent Tom Leonard. But something tells me, we have not heard the last of him.
Photo of Josh Derke via Facebook
Photo of Eugene Delgaudio via Facebook