Anti-gay email linked to campaign of candidate for Harris County Democratic Party chair

Posted on 10 Apr 2012 at 3:33pm

The above screen grab shows the yellow information window that pops up when you 'mouse over' a link at the bottom of an anti-gay email sent by 'Ministers for Keryl Douglas.' Based on this 'metadata,' the Houston GLBT Political Caucus alleges the email was in fact sent by Douglas' campaign itself.

On Monday we told you about a letter purportedly written by a Houston minister attacking Lane Lewis, an openly gay candidate for chair of the Harris County Democratic Party. The Rev. Willie J.Howard, writing on behalf of a group called “Ministers for Keryl Douglas” (Douglas is Lewis’ opponent in the primary), suggested in the letter that if “homosexuals” are allowed to “take over,” it could destroy the Democratic Party.

In a press release sent out last night in response to Howard’s letter, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus alleged that a digital analysis shows the email containing Howard’s letter was in fact sent by Douglas’ campaign itself, and not by “Ministers for Keryl Douglas.”

We contacted Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Caucus, to find out how the Caucus determined this. Freeman explained that electronic data, called “metadata,” is attached to every email. When you use an email client — such as iContact or Constant Contact, but in this case “MailChimp” — it attaches its own specific data.

“We examined the metadata on that email that was sent out and compared it to an official email from the Keryl Douglas campaign,” Freeman said. “They were identical. The metadata that was attached was identical, and it says Keryl Douglas campaign.”

Freeman directed us to “mouse over” a link at the bottom of the copy of Howard’s email that was forwarded to us. We confirmed that when you mouse over a link that says “Add us to your address book” at the bottom of the email, what pops up is a web address associated with Douglas’ campaign website. (See screen grab above.)

“You’d be amazed at how stupid people can be about this stuff,” Freeman said.

We left phone and email messages with Douglas’ campaign, which reportedly is denying any involvement. Thus far, no response.

Freeman added that Dallas Voice is the only media outlet that’s covered the anti-gay email. “Probably because it’s the primary,” he said. “It’s a race for the party chair, it’s not for state representative. That’s the only thing I can figure. I would guess that a lot of outlets probably see it as an internal dispute.”

Despite the lack of media attention, Democrats in Harris County have taken notice. Freeman said the email has led to an influx of support and financial contributions for Lewis, and garnered the attention of “well-respected, well-entrenched leaders and public figures in the Democratic Party with loud voices.”

“The party faithful have come out in force against this,” Freeman said. “I think it will significantly diminish the support that Ms. Douglas has in the community, and by community I mean the Democratic community.”

Read the Caucus’ full press release below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 9, 2012

Statement on Keryl Douglas Campaign’s Gay-Bashing Campaign Email

With another election cycle comes another candidate who has nothing to offer the electorate than an attempt to sway voters by spouting forth hateful, bigoted rhetoric against the GLBT community.  Given the progress toward equality that has been made in Harris County over the past 50 years, it is remarkable that someone running for chair of the Harris County Democratic Party would honestly believe that bigotry is an effective means of campaigning.

Despite the fact that Douglas attempted to portray her hateful message as coming from a group of African-American ministers, a digital analysis of the message easily revealed undisputable proof that the message did, in fact, originate directly from the Keryl Douglas campaign.  Any claims to the contrary are simply false.

Coming on the heels of a revelation that right-wing social conservative groups have developed a mission to drive a wedge between the GLBT and African-American communities, this message of bigotry is particularly disappointing, especially when her campaign has made a point to attack Reverend Bill Lawson and Howard Jefferson.  Both of these gentlemen are revered stalwarts of the African-American community and recognize the value in electing the best people to office, regardless of which community they may identify with. Her decision to attack them demonstrates her disdain for spiritual and political leaders in the African-American community who believe equality should be sought
and celebrated.

In the 1970’s, when the GLBT community was being constantly persecuted, attacked, and criminalized, it was the African-American community and leaders like Judson Robinson, Sr. who stood with us and defended us because they recognized that hatred and bigotry against ANY community is an affront to EVERY community.  We are proud of the relationships we have with African-American leaders and with the African-American community as a whole, because we all recognize that our communities are not exclusive of one another.

It is right and just for us to stand up together against hatred and prejudice wherever it may be found, and we will not allow a gay-bashing candidate like Keryl Douglas to denigrate and insult the entire African-American and GLBT communities.  Her message only serves as further evidence that the Caucus, along with many African-American leaders indeed made the correct choice in endorsing Lane Lewis for Chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party.

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