Accused of sexism, Lippy replies he's an advocate for women

February 10, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy is bugged that he's been pegged a sexist.

So much so that he felt compelled to defend himself to U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, whom he called "a champion of women's rights."

As she was ending a visit with the commissioners and their staff at the County Office Building yesterday morning, Mr. Lippy handed the senator and reporters a handwritten 1 1/2 -page letter.

"If I am to be charged, let the charges be true," he wrote.

The sexism issue was raised about two weeks ago in an article in the Carroll County edition of The Sun, in which the three commissioners were interviewed about their relationship behind the scenes.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge, the only woman on the three-member board, said one of the reasons she has trouble getting along with the other two commissioners is because she's a woman and her colleagues find it hard to work with a woman as an equal.

Mr. Lippy and Commissioner Donald I. Dell denied the accusation.

An editorial cartoon on the topic that ran in The Sun last Sunday made Mr. Lippy bristle even more.

"I felt the need to face her [Sen. Mikulski] and state my position on women's rights," Mr. Lippy said yesterday.

In his letter to Sen. Mikulski, Mr. Lippy said he didn't want to drag her into "a local political squabble," but said she would be "an appropriate vessel to pour oil on troubled family waters."

He reminded his fellow Democrat that she has received his support "both financially and morally."

"I've long admired you as a leader in the struggle to achieve equal rights for women, the civil rights issue of the day," he wrote.

"Since my days as mayor of Manchester, when I opposed the Klan in the face of threats, I've fought against prejudice. The present charges are blatantly false, and a quick check on my talks and writings shows this clearly," he wrote.

In 1991, for example, he spoke about women's rights in a layman's sermon entitled "Love and Taxes" at his church, Trinity United Church of Christ.

He said he could not believe women were not given the right to vote until 1920 and that women still earn less than men.

In 1987, he said, he publicly opposed the Ku Klux Klan's plan to march in Manchester.

The fight for women's rights cannot be divorced from the fight for civil rights, he said.

Sen. Mikulski did not respond to the letter yesterday.

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