According to his spokesman, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the Republican candidate for governor, “respects the human dignity of gay and lesbian Ohioans.” That sentiment does not seem compatible with his answer to a Columbus Dispatch questionnaire published Sunday that gays can “be cured.” Blackwell compared gays to thieves and arsonists:
I think homosexuality is a lifestyle, it’s a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed. I think it is a transgression against God’s law, God’s will. The reality is, again, … that I think we make choices all the time. And I think that you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one’s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist, or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes.
This ugly rhetoric is not entirely surprising. Blackwell was the primary public spokesman for the 2004 ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in Ohio, working closely with Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson and their “Patriot Pastor” audiences. At one 2004 event with Parsley, he compared gay couples seeking marriage unfavorably to farm animals. “I don’t know how many of you have a farming background but I can tell you right now that notion even defies barnyard logic … the barnyard knows better,” Blackwell said to a church audience.