Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone has released letter in response to comments made about recently-appointed Alderman Courtney O’Keefe during the board process to appoint her. . O’Keefe is openly gay.
O’Keefe told the Somerville Journal the term “dyke candidate” has been used to describe her. The paper also reports that Somerville Journal columnist Ken Brociner berreated O’Keefe after a meeting on April 11. Brociner reportedly emailed O’Keefe an apology.
“I’m from Somerville. They think that ‘dyke’ candidate … is going to rattle my cage? It’s going to take a little more than that,” O’Keefe told the Metro.
You can read Curtatone’s full letter below.
Open Letter to the Public:
It has come to my attention that offensive, homophobic slurs have been publicly spoken about a Somerville elected official, and a friend of mine. In light of this information, let me renew my stance on this and any other derogatory remarks against human beings in ours and any other community: This kind of abusive behavior has no place in our city – or any other.
Not only do I personally condemn all anti-gay slurs and insults, the City of Somerville has an ordinance on the books that proudly informs every resident and guest of our city that we stand in solidarity with all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as well as all residents of any gender, age, or ethnicity. I encourage everyone to take a moment to read it (below) and take it to heart.
We often speak about the fact that we are a city that prides itself on its diversity and its inclusiveness, but fostering tolerance sometimes takes action. In our city, we passed an ordinance as a first step, and each day we hold true to it. In Somerville, everyone is welcome and equal. The language of that ordinance reads:
It is hereby declared to be the public policy of the city, including its employees, agents and officials, to protect and promote the constitutional, civil and human rights of all people within the city. Further, the city asserts that:
All people have certain inalienable rights, including the rights to life, liberty, property, the pursuit of happiness and equal justice under the laws of the United States, the commonwealth and the city.
No person in our city shall have these rights constrained, reduced, ignored or violated; all people in our city shall be protected in the exercise of these human and civil rights.
No person in our city shall be unlawfully discriminated against in matters of housing, employment, education, contracts, purchasing or public accommodations, on the basis of: age, ancestry, citizenship, color, disability, economic status, ethnicity, family/marital status, gender, military status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation or source of income.
The human rights commission shall work toward mutual respect and understanding among all individuals and groups in the city through improving the quality of public discourse and eliminating unlawful discrimination.
(Ord. No. 1993-1, 1-28-93)
Every human being deserves the right to respect, dignity, and decency. Know that in Somerville, these kinds of slurs and behavior will not be tolerated, regardless of whether the victim holds a public position or not. It is a basic human right to be treated equally regardless of sexual orientation, race, cultural background or any other quality or characteristic, and in Somerville, we will continue to honor that right.
Joseph A. Curtatone