I was disappointed to hear about the homophobic outburst...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 03, 2001

I was disappointed to hear about the homophobic outburst by City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano "Housing chief's behavior at bar leads to arrest," Dec. 30). I understand that a person deserves a second chance. However, the bar is raised higher for public servants.

I am certain that had Mr. Graziano been in the same bar tossing around the "N" word, or other venomous blather, he would have been terminated.

Why it is different with gay and lesbian citizens? Are we less deserving of respect and righteous indignation than our African-American counterparts?

As for Mr. Graziano being an asset to the city, I have no doubt this is true.

Yet, I am sure there are racists and neo-Nazis every bit as talented. Do we want to hire them to work for visible positions in city government? I think not.

Discharging Mr. Graziano would send the right message.

Victoria C. Wagner, Baltimore

Alcohol in no way creates new attitudes or beliefs; it merely clouds our judgment about when to let them out.

Alcohol treatment might increase the chances that City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano will learn to keep his mouth shut. But it will do nothing to alter the hateful attitudes that lurk inside him.

Gay-rights groups have every right to be concerned about Mr. Graziano's ability or inclination to be impartial.

And we all should demand a more sensitive and direct response from our mayor.

Louise A. Machen, Ruxton

City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano's public drunkenness and negative remarks are reason enough for him to resign or be terminated.

This kind of behavior from anyone, no matter his or her position, is intolerable.

Mary Campbell, Severn

Mayor Martin O'Malley's handling of the recent incident involving City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano speaks volumes as to the lowly status of the gay, lesbian and transgendered community in Baltimore and in American society.

If epithets disparaging a prominent racial or ethnic group had been hurled by a high-ranking public official, that person would no longer be employed.

Why didn't Mr. Graziano's behavior provoke outrage from other minority groups? Perhaps because citizens take their cues from elected officials such as Mr. O'Malley.

In his opinion, Mr. Graziano's behavior was disappointing but easily punishable with an orchestrated display of remorse before the television cameras.

I can accept giving someone a second chance, but Mr. O'Malley must make Mr. Graziano's future employment contingent on treatment for his alcoholism and insensitivity toward gays, as well as some public service at a local community center.

If the gay community cannot look to the mayor whom they helped elect, we will continue to be forced to take whatever action is available to us as private citizens.

We have tolerated such attacks for far too long to continue to accept such abuse.

Steven Coster, Baltimore

Drunkenness is no excuse for official misconduct

To me, perhaps the worst part of the recent bar incident involving City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano is that Mayor Martin O'Malley seems to believe Mr. Graziano has nothing more than a possible drinking problem.

I really hope our society is moving beyond the old excuse (mostly for men) that drunkenness brings out problems that don't exist when a person is sober.

If Mr. Graziano had groped a woman while drunk at a bar, would people think he had only a possible drinking problem?

If he had hurled racial epithets at patrons while drunk, would minority advocacy groups accept that it was just the booze talking? I don't think so - and they shouldn't have to. If Mr. Graziano wants to show he is a "very, very good person" who learns from his mistakes, he needs to do more than show a hang-dog look.

He should undertake a course in sensitivity toward gays and lesbians, in addition to any counseling recommended for an alcohol problem.

And if Mr. O'Malley truly believes Mr. Graziano's conduct betrays no insensitivity toward gays and lesbians, there is probably a course or two the mayor should take as well.

Karen DeCamp, Baltimore

Drunkenness is no excuse for hateful remarks by a government official in a public place. If City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano had made hateful remarks about African-Americans, I have no doubt that he would now be history.

We recommend that Mr. Graziano be fired. In doing so, the mayor will send a clear message: "We do not tolerate intolerance in Baltimore City government."

Sarah Bur, Baltimore; Lois Eldred, Catonsville

The recent debacle over the homophobic remarks City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano made to patrons in a Fells Point bar is one more example of political arrogance run amok.

Not only did his remarks insult the gay and lesbian community, but Mr. Graziano's excuse is an insult to us all.

It is time that people, high public officials included, are held accountable for their behavior, including acts committed under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

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