A Cleveland-area congressional candidate claims that illiterate, nonchurchgoing black voters led to Cuyahoga County's recent passage of an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law.
Beverly Goldstein, the Republican candidate in Ohio's 11th Congressional District, made the incendiary comment in the following tweet:
The Cuyahoga County Council expanded the nondiscrimination law last week, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to an ordinance that already banned discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, and several other characteristics. The council also created the Cuyahoga County Commission on Human Rights, which will hear discrimination complaints and impose penalties for violating the ordinance, according to Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer.Cleveland is part of Cuyahoga County.
Democrats were quick to denounce Goldstein's comment. Marcia Fudge, the incumbent U.S. House member from the district, called it "ill-informed, racist, and homophobic," The Plain Dealerreports. She added that she would not dignify it with further comment.
Phillip Robinson, a Democratic state representative candidate who supported the expanded ordinance, told The Plain Dealer, "Offensive statements like those made by Ms. Goldstein don't merit a response. Instead what I will say to you is the majority of Americans including residents here in Cuyahoga County agree with me that this is a matter of equal rights and basic human decency."
Goldstein was attending a conference this week and not available to speak to The Plain Dealer, but her husband and campaign manager, Michael Goldstein, attempted to defend her comments. "Race is not the issue," he told the paper via email. "In the City of Cleveland 66% of adults aged 16 or over cannot read for content. The attached information, which is based on a [Case Western Reserve University] study cited in the document, shows that the estimated adult illiteracy figure for East Cleveland is 83%. In the Kinsman neighborhood of Cleveland adult illiteracy is 97%."
He continued, "If most of [black voters] understood that this ordinance would allow transgender males, or sex offenders who masquerade as transgender males, to use women's bathrooms regularly used by mothers and daughters, thereby endangering the safety of girls and women, they probably would have brought pressure to bear on their elected county representatives not to bring the resolution in the first place. But those who cannot read cannot be expected to know about the negative effects of the resolution."
Michael Goldstein had testified against the expanded ordinance, representing a group called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, of which he is director and general counsel. The group is "dedicated to educating Christians on their Biblical duty to support and defend the State of Israel and the Jewish people," The Plain Dealer notes. He had told the council that adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the ordinance would endanger the rights of religious people.
Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman Rob Frost, whose party has endorsed Beverly Goldstein, had also opposed the ordinance. Regarding Beverly Goldstein's tweet, he told The Plain Dealer it was "not optimally phrased to communicate the message that the candidate, Dr. Goldstein, intended to communicate," and referred the paper to her husband for further comment.
This is Goldstein's second run for Congress against Fudge, but she is not likely to prevail. The 11th District, which includes parts of Cuyahoga and Summit counties, is one of the most heavily Democratic in the nation. It first elected Fudge in 2008. In addition to Goldstein, the incumbent also has a challenger in independent James Jerome Bell, who is mounting a write-in campaign.