Two of my political heroes are Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield. In fact, the only portrait of a politician that I own is one of Governor McCall and when Hatfield was in the U.S. Senate I was proud to work with him on legislation to help homeless Oregonians. These two Republicans always put the common good ahead of partisan politics when they served in public office. Of course, Senator Hatfield's Christian faith guided his decisions on issues like military spending and the death penalty. I have met few people that I admire more.
It is disheartening that today's GOP in Oregon has moved so far away from the ideals of tolerance and community advanced by McCall and Hatfield. No example demonstrates this better than the relationship GOP leaders have with Dennis Oliver Woods, a man who has advocated the death penalty for gays and lesbians, written that slavery in the American South was akin to kindly "overseas adoptions," and who objects to letting women have the right to vote. Mr. Woods bases his views on his understanding of the Christian faith. How we read the Bible matters and as an ordained minister, I would argue that Woods perverts the Gospel teachings.
As Willamette Week has noted, GOP-related groups, including the Oregon Republican Senate Caucus, have "regularly hired Woods to gauge and help shape public opinion."
Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli says that he won't impose a "litmus test" on those the GOP employees. Some views are so extreme, however, that they must be condemned. Oregon republicans offer Woods legitimacy that he doesn't deserve.
The Oregon GOP and their affiliates need to immediately fire Mr. Woods and promise not to work with him in the future. His political views are the antitheses of the values we as Americans - democrats and republicans alike - hold so dear. Racism, sexism, and homophobia have no place in our politics and those that advocate such views shouldn't have a seat at the table. Oregonians need to know the GOP strongly reject these views. Right now that isn't clear. The party of Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield shouldn't be allowed to become the party of Dennis Oliver Woods.