I asked this question on my personal Facebook page, and the results were interesting. An overwhelming number of people said that Rep. Brian Sims should not resign, and most responses came from men.
The reason for the question is due to the outrage Sims caused, which had some at Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice women and men calling for his resignation. Sims had an emotional outburst against, as he called her, “an old white woman” who was protesting outside of Planned Parenthood. He recorded the event and then boastfully posted it on social media. In another video, he asked his viewers to provide the addresses of two teenage girls who were protesting with their mother — the reward: $100.
Planned Parenthood clinics around the country are often protested and picketed by religious right wing anti-abortion proponents. Usually these people march around chanting or praying, at times trying to persuade the women entering to save what they believe to be a life: the fetus. This happens literally thousands of times around the country each month without incident. Planned Parenthood has taken an approach to ignore these pickets and at the same time support those using the clinics’ services by providing escorts to those who enter.
Sims, who yelled at one protester while she walked and prayed and jokingly demanded personal information of teenage women, likely thought he was standing up for Planned Parenthood and the people they serve.
The world did not see it that way. The image the world saw was ugly — an angry, privileged man yelling at women, one of whom was praying while he waved his finger, followed her around continually and called her an “old white woman.” For whatever his reasons, he gave the religious right the spark they needed to embolden their followers to spread their hate. It has further added to the division in this country. Last Friday, hundreds of anti-abortion protesters rallied at the very clinic from the video. How much more difficult must it have been for women entering the clinic that day?
This paper has endorsed Brian in all of his elections, but in this instance he is dangerously wrong. Not his views, but his actions and behavior. Since he takes every opportunity he can to say that he represents this community, he embarrasses us all.
We of the LGBT community should be asking more from those who represent us. We have to ask the question, was this just a publicity stunt gone wrong? Brian is no longer the only LGBT-elected or -appointed public official. We are lucky to have younger leaders like Malcolm Kenyatta and Amber Hikes, and people like Deja Alvarez, Henry Sias, Tiffany Palmer, Dan Anders and many others.
In the past, some members of our community put Brian on a pedestal. Those on pedestals are likely to fall, and this time he certainly did. Can he dust himself off and rise again? One former union leader, pro-choice Democratic woman commentator stated: “I hope that an old white women runs against him in the primary… and I’ll vote for her.”
Should he resign? That’s a decision for him, not for you and me. We can only express our opinions. I’m sure someone in the district will take that commentator’s advice and run against him in the next primary, and at that point we’ll decide if he deserves another chance and an endorsement. In other words: he gets no more free passes.