Dear Editor, In endorsing Chris Bell [“Endorsements,” Oct. 20], the Chronicle staff apparently overlooked Bell’s very conservative stands on several important issues. In recent campaign appearances, including an interview on Texas Monthly Talks, Bell has said he supports the death penalty and opposes legalizing marijuana possession. Worse yet, he opposes gay marriage. I know that in Texas, it would be political suicide for any gubernatorial candidate to publicly support equal rights for gays and lesbians. But running for governor in a state full of homophobic bigots is no excuse for promoting homophobia or bigotry. As a so-called “liberal” candidate, Bell should be ashamed of himself for his anti-gay rhetoric. Is Bell himself a bigot, or is he just pandering to bigots? The answer doesn’t really matter. Either way, the Chronicle staff should never endorse a candidate who opposes gay marriage and, in effect, supports discrimination. I realize that Bell has taken progressive stances on issues such as health insurance and education, and he’s a far better candidate than Governor Goodhair, Grandma Strayhorn, or Kinky Friedman. But his anti-gay views are disgusting and inexcusable, and should disqualify him from holding any public office. For this reason, the Chronicle should change its endorsement in the gubernatorial election to "none of the above."
[Editor's note: A clarification: Democrat Chris Bell has said he does not support gay marriage, but he strongly opposed the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, because, he said, "It's designed to drive a wedge instead of building bridges. I support civil unions, because everyone deserves equal protection." More broadly, we don't believe that a Chronicle endorsement requires that we agree with a candidate on every issue.]