Toledo school board candidate Becky Berry managed to hold on to her Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce endorsement, and the $500 that came with it, after assuring the chamber yesterday that she is not homophobic.
Mrs. Berry was called to defend herself by the chamber's Leadership Fund - a political action committee formed during the summer to give endorsements and contributions - after a letter surfaced that she had written to area ministers warning of a “hidden agenda.”
The letter cited “homosexual activists,” along with “radical feminists, abortion advocates, and haters of Christianity” as arrayed against the family.
The letter was replete with citations from the Bible and her professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
The East Toledo mother of three is making her first run for public office.
“Their main concern was that this was my main issue. Everything's making me out to be homophobic. Abstinence is my message,” Mrs. Berry said. She did not disavow the letter.
She said she went to the meeting yesterday to convince the Leadership Fund's trustees that she has other campaign issues, including an insistence on teaching phonics and offering full special education services to children who need it.
Ben Brown, chairman of the fund committee, declined to give any details of the hour-long meeting.
“We clarified some issues, made some agreements. We never did pull our endorsement,” Mr. Brown said. “There were some things we wanted to discuss with her.”
The chamber's concern was evident in the letter she received on Wednesday. It said: “Some disturbing information regarding your campaign platform has come to our attention that needs to be addressed immediately.” The letter addressed the two-page campaign letter sent to area pastors.
The gay organization Log Cabin Republicans of Northwest Ohio had urged the chamber to revoke its endorsement. Chairman David Schulz described her views as homophobic and said the chamber's endorsement validates her views.
Mrs. Berry's letter to the ministers objected to having gay and lesbian groups speak to junior high school children. She said the school district's sex program is a failure because of the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy in Lucas County.
“The time is now for the church to rise and fight to take back this lost ground for the Lord,” Mrs. Berry wrote. She cited a line from the book of Isaiah predicting that God called someone “from the East” to His cause.
“I have to address it,” she said. But “No political campaign is going to make me change my morals.”