The note is clearly an offensive way to use threats of deadly violence in an attempt to intimidate and silence Dan and his campaign and, by extension, our entire community and our interests in Topeka. Dan has no intentions of backing down and has seen this latest example of bigotry as proof that his campaign must go on. He and his campaign team’s resolve is now stronger than ever.
Dan’s campaign has been a struggle from the first day. While the challenge of defeating a far-right, incumbent Republican in a swing district is one thing, that Dan’s sexual orientation has been used against him in a hateful way is another thing. Dan not being able to count on the support of his own Democratic Party is another thing altogether. Dan has even had party officials suggest that he hide his own sexual orientation and spend the campaign in the closet. Dan needs support, not indifference.
Worse than indifference from the Democratic Party has been the reaction from some in our own community – those whose apathy or resignation has led them to believe that there’s no place for openly gay candidates and leaders in Kansas. Their willingness to surrender the public stage to people like Brenda Landwehr, and to the person who left this hateful message on Dan’s door, is unacceptable. Dan will not surrender, and neither should we.
Extreme violence in politics is a road Wichita has been down quite recently. Until his assassination 14 months ago, Dr. George Tiller endured years of death threats and attempts on his life. Dr. Tiller never compromised on his commitment to women’s rights. Like Dr. Tiller, Dan will not be intimidated into silence, and will not be pushed back into the closet. Dan believes that the only way to respond to those who would silence us is by making our voices louder and more numerous, not by surrendering in silence and fear.
As Kansans, we must send a message to those who oppose us that we will not be intimidated, we will not be forced back into the closet, and we will not be treated as second-class citizens whose relationships don’t matter.