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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Madia Accused of Homophobia, Campaign Responds

This conversation occurred in the Minnesota Daily several weeks ago, and now is occurring again on Michael Brodkorb's blog. Brandon Lacy Campos sent a LTE to the Minnesota Daily where he accused 3rd District Candidate, Ash Madia of homophobia, when he served as President of the Minnesota Student Association.

Let's hope people can change

If you need more proof that nothing in the world happens by chance, I submit to you that it has literally been years since I read the Daily. I happened to pick up Tuesday's Daily and saw the article concerning former MSA President Ashwin Madia ("Former MSA president vies for Congress," Oct. 30), who was known as Jigar Madia while a student at the U.

I about choked on my lunch when I saw that Jigar was running as a DFLer. As MSA President, Jigar was an active member of the College Republicans, virulently homophobic and a staunch enemy of mandatory student fees. He was no friend to the cultural centers. In essence, he was the perfect conservative poster child.

I was a member of MSA and was once given an award by Jigar as having the best knowledge of the MSA Constitution and By-Laws, which I used (constantly) to stop Jigar and his friends from gutting free speech and freedom of expression, in as much as MSA had such power (mainly through the vehicle of the Student Service Fees Committee).

I believe all people have the ability to change. And I hope that Jigar's, excuse me, Ashwin's are much more than a change in preferred name and other cosmetic expressions.

Brandon Lacy Campos
former CLA Student Senator
CLA Class of 2001

A response

I write in response to Brandon Lacy Campos’s letter in Thursday’s Daily in which he reminisced about old political battles and described me as “virulently homophobic.” Some name-calling comes with the territory of running for office, but other names are so beyond the pale that they demand a response.

I am not, and have never been, a homophobe. I was particularly upset by this phrase given my strong progressive positions on LGBT issues. During my time in MSA, I tried to have an inclusive leadership style and was proud that I had supporters from many different communities at the University - including the LGBT community. In fact, political adversaries of mine described my supporters and governing coalition as a “motley crew” of liberals, moderates and conservatives. I took pride in the broad based support of my administration that spanned across the divides of politics, race, ethnicity and sexuality.

If Campos had asked me my views on the LGBT community prior to writing his letter, I would have told him about how, as a Marine Corps lawyer, I defended a gay Marine against the military’s bigoted and shameful “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I would have told him with pride about my unconditional support for a person very close to me who has recently come out. I also would have told him about my strong belief in full equal rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.

After sending his letter to the Daily, Campos contacted people within the LGBT community who actually know me to ask their views of me. After learning the truth about my position on LGBT rights, he wrote me the following in an e-mail: “I’m writing to, basically, to say best of luck with your campaign. I’ve read your Web site, and I think you will be an excellent addition to the U.S. Congress.” Campos and I have talked with each other and reconciled - I consider him a friend who is helping with my campaign. I hope that he considers me a friend as well.

Our country faces a bloody war in Iraq, spiraling budget deficits, widespread lack of health insurance, failing schools and the looming threat of global warming. We need to work together as a nation - heterosexuals and members of the LGBT community alike - to address these problems and move our country forward.

Jigar Ashwin Madia
former president, MSA DFL candidate for Congress

To the Madia campaign's credit, they immediately responded on Brodkorb's blog, rather than wait for this to fester. I do have a gay friend in the DFL who is extremely impressed with Madia. I'd find it difficult to believe this person would be impressed with a homophobe.


Del J. said...

Ashwin Madia attended the Stonewall DFL Halloweeen Fundraiser and came across as a strong ally to the LGBT Community. He worked the room well by engaging almost everyone in the room in conversations at least twice before going around again to say goodbye to leave to another event. No other 3rd CD DFL candidates were there. He seems to be running a good campaign. I do not live in the 3rd CD, but I look forward to learning more about him and all candidates in that race.

-Del J.