Page One

Tribune should retract prejudiced editorial

Kriss Worthington Berkeley City Council member
Friday August 17, 2001

The Daily Planet received a copy of this letter written by Councilmember Kriss Worthington to The Oakland Tribune responding to an Aug. 14 editorial in which the author called Worthington a “coward” and accused him of “advancing what seems to be a single agenda in a city widely known for its diversity.” 


An open letter to The Oakland Tribune: 

As a little kid I loved to go to the library and read newspapers and magazines from around the world. It opened my mind to many kinds of people in this beautiful world. 

My social studies teacher insisted I had to read The New York Times, a good and fun habit I still indulge in when time permits. Almost five years ago I was elected to the Berkeley City Council and apparently became newsworthy. In addition to devouring the written word, I began to answer reporters’ questions. 

During that time, I have had fun chatting with reporters from many Bay Area publications, including Tribune reporters William Brand, Cecily Burt, and Angela Hill. Sometimes they asked tough questions, and sometimes they quoted the other side too much for my taste, but we had an appropriate professional respect for each other. 

Imagine my surprise to have this relationship jolted by an editorial trashing me as a person worthy of being despised, insulting me by calling me names such as “despicable” and “coward,” and attributing quotes to me that were snippets strung together out of context! 

In addition to the personal insult, many have called or written to tell me that the editorial was insulting to the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community because of the ferociousness and because it suggests that if I care about gay issues I have “a singular agenda.” 

To people who know me from my work on housing, health care, education, and organizing against racism, sexism, ageism, and prejudice against the disabled community, it comes as a surprise to be told that I have a singular agenda. 

The lesbian/ gay community is part of the whole fabric of our society. 

We walk side by side with our sisters and brothers in movements for racial justice. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our sisters for choice and against sexism. 

I don’t want just to complain. I want to propose positive steps you can take. To send a clear message to the entire community that you truly do not condone anti-gay policy, I propose that you consider the following ideas; 

1. I request that you issue a clarification/correction/retraction (whatever you choose to call it) to correct the mistaken impressions you may have created in people’s minds by attributing a caricature of an opinion and a cartoon of an agenda to me, rather than taking the time to research what I actually said and did. 

2. Write a timely strong editorial unequivocally in favor of the Boy Scouts of America dropping its official policy of anti-gay discrimination, so we can use the current controversy for positive good. 

3. As an early step in that direction, please join us in encouraging the local Diablo Silverado Council to adopt a strongly written statement in opposition to the national policy of anti-gay discrimination. 

4. The Tribune should provide domestic partner benefits to all its employees. This is being done by many outstanding cities and corporations throughout the country. 

5. In addition, I request that you issue an apology not to me personally, but to the lgbt community for insulting our simple efforts to raise questions about anti-gay discrimination. 

I welcome the opportunity to meet with the editorial board to clarify the facts and to discuss these proposals face-to-face in an atmosphere of mutual respect. 

Let’s work together to take one more step in America’s journey towards fairness and justice for all. 


Kriss Worthington 

Berkeley City Council member