Tampa Bay Newspapers

March 8, 2007


Sampling of Letters to the Editor re the Stanton case:


There are some excellent letters here that deserve a wide reading. Of special interest is the part played in the firing by Pastor Ron Saunders and his flock at Largo's "Lighthouse Baptist Church", as reported on February 28th by the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Saunders made the following pronouncement in front of almost 500 people at the city hall meeting where the decision to fire was made: 

If Jesus was here tonight, I can guarantee you he’d want him terminated,” said Pastor Ron Saunders of Largo’s Lighthouse Baptist Church. “Make no mistake about it.”

For a further discussion of Saunders behavior, see the "Pastor Ron Saunders: Jesus is my HR" blog page on Tampa's Sticks of Fire blogsite. See also the letter from Boston's historic Old South Church to the City commisioners of Largo, Florida


To follow developments in this case, see links to stories in the Trans News Updates, beginning on February 27, 2007. See also WritLargo, the official blog of www.SaveStanton.com and a collection point for commentary regarding the firing of Steve Stanton, the transgender city manager of Largo, Florida. http://writlargo.wordpress.com


Lynn Conway






Pastor Ron Saunders part in the firing of Largo city manager 




As a "born-again," seminary-trained, conservative Christian of 34 years who also happens to be transgendered, I'm appalled and embarrassed by the comments of Pastor Ron Saunders made at the "special meeting" recently to decide if the city would accept Steve Stanton as Susan due to his clinically supervised gender change.


Pastor Saunders commented that "If Jesus was here tonight, I can guarantee you he'd want him terminated, make no mistake about it." I can find nowhere in the New Testament where a clinically necessary procedure should be grounds for losing your job. I can find no examples in Scripture where Jesus ever advocated punitive dismissal of anyone for any reason. The only harsh words I can find from Jesus lips were reserved for the pious, self-righteous, self-appointed law-givers who had little, if any, compassion for fellow sinners.


Our country doesn't need a Christian taliban to speak to our civil authorities about what Jesus would do. If Pastor Saunders believes in the resurrected Christ, then he should let God speak for Himself, afterall, God raises up kings and brings them down. He doesn't need Pastor Saunders help.


We are still the United States of America, and as far as I know, discrimination in any form is indefensible on Constitutional grounds. I hope Ms. Stanton finds a good lawyer and takes this to a higher authority to deal with the city's deplorable treatment of a competent employee.


I hope Pastor Saunders' church members think carefully about whether they want to go to a church with a pastor who is so judgmental. I would think they would prefer one who offers the grace of God. If Ms. Stanton is commiting a sin (and I'm not saying she is), then the church membership of Largo's Lighthouse Baptist Church better be sure that none of them commit any sins, lest their pastor boot them out of their church. Come to think of it, I hope Pastor Saunders doesn't commit any sins himself, lest he be found a hypocrite, pointing a finger at Ms. Stanton, when he himself commits his own flavor of sins (that he apparently must think are acceptable in the eyes of God, so his job isn't at risk). See Corinthians 1:13. Was Pastor Saunders "patient and kind" to Ms. Stanton? Was he "provoked"? What wrong did your pastor suffer at the hands of Ms. Stanton to deserve such rancor? It seems to me that Pastor Saunders already has a problem with sin in the way he handled this situation. Beware, Pastor Saunders, for now you are in the national eye. Do not sin or be taken in a fault, lest you be found out and your job comes into question because of your own human frailties. I suggest you apologize to Ms. Stanton and seek help for your delusional thinking on behalf of God.


"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." Jesus' words, Matthew 23:27


Bren Breithaupt

San Diego, Calf.

Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007 






Largo Kangaroo Court 




As an attorney, a human being, and a corporate resident of Largo, I am appalled and embarrassed to have the name "Largo" on my business card. I watched the sordid witch hunt of a city commission meeting tonight on TV.


The world witnessed a kangaroo court sitting in masquerade as the Largo county commission. Five commission members tonight have demonstrated their own blind political asperations, their igorance, their self-importance and their fear of the vocal but uneducated minority.


With the total lack of personal integrity and inclusiveness of all its citizens, this commission did not wait to find out if the uninvited revelation of Mr. Stanton's long-time gender identity in fact affects his performance as city manager. Shame on all of you, except for the mayor, who has the courage of her convictions, and the lone commissioner, Rodney Woods, who has himself experienced the discrimination and blind rage of people who are small minded, mean spirited and uninformed.


The shame on this community is not the exposure of City Manager Steve Stanton's gender identity, but the lack of courage and integrity of five if its city commissioners, who were too afraid of ghosts and whisperers to give Stanton a chance to show whether he could still perform his duties as city manager as a transgendered female instead of a white heterosexual male.


Kathryn Bergeron


Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007






Transgender issue in Largo 




I think it is a disgrace that the city of Largo would fire someone because they plan to have an operation. The type of operation should not affect their job. If an obese person had the gastric bypass surgery would you fire them?


No, because that person would still be able to perform their job. It should not matter. The transgender surgery will not affect how someone does their job. The only thing it affects are narrow minded people's lives. STAND UP!!!! Do not fire someone based on how they choose to live their life.


Would it matter if he came out and said he was gay? No, because he can still perform his job. So why should it matter if he chooses to have breast implants and change his name? I think you people that want him to be fired should take a long hard look in the mirror. Which one of you drinks too much? Which one of you cheats on their spouse? Which one of you hits your spouse? Those that live in glass house should not throw stones. So unless you live your life on the straight and narrow and have never done something that someone else deems wrong then how you can judge? But there is no one that perfect.


Jennifer Coughlin Hummel

San Jose, Calf. 

Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007





Being transsexual is a sin? 




Sorry about not quoting the Bible just the location and jist of the text. Editorials are supposed to be short. Please pull out your Bibles and read the scriptures quoted.


I do have a few questions though. Where in the Bible does it say being a transsexual is a sin? I honestly cannot remember any references to transsexuals at all. And for those that say it was not considered, remember Ecclesiates 1:9-11 where it says there is nothing new under the sun.


For those of you that consider the Bible the literal absolute word of God, this is saying all things have already happened at least once before. Sometime before the time of the writing of the book of Ecclesiastes man had been able to fly, man had walked in space and on the moon, man had weapons of mass destruction, and yes, transsexuals had existed. Man forgot about them, but God has not forgotten.


Show me where it is denounced or called an abomination or ridiculed. It is not there. If you say God did not discuss it so as not to confuse people, then please tell me what is being described in Ezekial. That book is the most confusing I have ever read.


I will tell you something you see everywhere that is denounced in the Bible, by Jesus himself. Divorce is contrary to Christianity. See Mark 10:2-12. Jesus says even the divorces allowed under the Aaronic Law were wrong. And if you marry again after a divorce it is ADULTERY. That is actually why the Catholic church under only the most unusual cases will allow divorce. Jesus said it was wrong and a sin. What better authority than him. Are you going to fire every politician and official that has been divorced? Will you kick them all out of your churches?


Do not point fingers at transsexuals and call them sinners when there is no evidence in the Bible they are doing anything wrong, especially when "a beam is in thine own eye." Consider Matthew 7:3-5.


In conclusion, I read, I studied, I prayed, and in the end, I got a sex change.


Natalie Holeman

Shiloh, Ill. 

Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007






Largo's city administrator's 'proposed' removal 




To Editor and Largo City Council and residents:


Today I read an AP article on your "fair" city and was compelled to submit the following. Having served my city for 16 years in various capacities, the last four years as councilman, I have the following observations.


I am appalled at the treatment of the city administrator by the Largo "City Council" and its residents. Discrimination of an employee by sex, race, or ethnicity is (hello) against the law ... just in case you all were not aware of that. Second observation, the "performance" of the administrator from the article seems to be exemplory ... having been there in that capacity for 10 years.


Third observation is addreessed to the "pastor" from the local Baptist church. His "pathetic" "testimony" to the Council " that is "If Jesus were here he'd have him removed immediately." I would simply say to the "pastor" and his pitiful flock ... since when did the Bible and "true Christianity" "discriminate" against anyone. A "Christian" is forgiving and not vengeful.


I would say to the "Pastor" He/She needs to go back to school and study the Bible and what Christianity is. Lastly, city of Largo and City Council,get you check book out. This is going to cost you "all" a lot of money when the administrator sues ... only wish I could represent him.


Gary Bakken

Breezy Point, Minn. 

Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007






No more vacation money to Largo FL 




As a frequent visitor to Florida, I will no longer spend any money in Largo Fla. I am beyond appalled at how the community has handled the transgender change by their employee. It is a private matter. Grow up Largo!


Grace Cherrington

Pataskala, Ohio 

Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007






The Vilification of Steve Stanton 




My affection and good feeling for the beautiful state of Florida has dimmed today, given the campaign of hatred, contempt and intolerance which is in progress against Largo City Manager Steve Stanton, who has revealed after years of angst and pain that he is a transsexual and will undergo an operation to change himself to a woman.


This individual, who by all accounts has served the city of Largo with competence and distinction, has now suddenly come to be seen by many area residents and elected officials as untrustworthy and unworthy of providing further service to the city he loves. In response to the voice of the angry mob, his dismissal is now in progress.


The newly-found feelings of contempt for Mr. Stanton are spawned by ignorance. A transsexual is not a criminal, not a degenerate, rather is someone who is born into a body which is not their true sex. No one chooses to become a transsexual and to expose themselves and their family to the type of misery and condemnation to which Mr. Stanton has been subjected.


When African-Americans were being savaged by ignorant, conetmptuous white bigots in the middle of the 20th century, they received invaluable support, including the martialing of federal military forces that were sent by presidents who supported civil rights and were repulsed by the anti-societal and violent behavior being demonstrated toward African-Americans. It would be comforting to think that there would be some support at the national level for Steve Stanton, a man who is being similarly vilified, not for the color of his skin, but for something else which is not his fault, his sexual orientation: a woman who is trapped in the body of a man. I do not expect that we will hear a peep about the matter from this presidential administration, as many of its followers have the same mindset as the small, narrow-minded, pitchfork-wielding residents of Largo.


It is highly ironic that Largo's credo is "City of Progress". I suggest it be revised to "Backward City of Bigotry and Intolerance. If you are different than us, stay away; we don't want ye!"


It is particularly sad that some of the haters identify themselves as people of faith. What God, what savior would condone the actions of these individuals? It is sad day, a day of shame and disgrace for Largo, for the state of Florida, and for our nation. Surely a just and righteous God weeps.


Oren M. Spiegler

Upper Saint Clair, Pa. 

Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007






Reinstate Steve Stanton as city manager 




The city of Largo should be ashamed of itself for firing City Manager Steve Stanton. He appears to have ably served the city for more than a decade.


He should have your support at such a critical time in his personal life, not lose his job over something that has nothing to do with his job performance.


I personally vow not to spend one single cent in Largo until you make this right. I will also work to convince others to join me in this effort.


Kirk Childress

Houston, Texas 

Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007






City manager ousting 




Dear City Leaders and town of Largo:


Your motto displayed above states your mission is to provide superior service. It mystifies me why you want to oust someone who, by your own admission, has displayed such talents to your city for FOURTEEN years simply because he is going to undergo a sex-change operation.


The operation will change his OUTER looks, but he is still the exact, same person who has been guiding your city for the past 14 years. I find it sickening that a Pastor of a church would speak words of hate to another human being. The city manager hasn't killed anyone, isn't a pedophile, doesn't steal and does a decent job. I was taught that Jesus forgives all and that Jesus accepts all ... evidently not in your town.


I applaud Steve for being so brave as to even ASK for permission to continue on in as the city manager. The fact that he even has to ASK permission shows how narrow minded your city has become or perhaps, has always been. I sincerely hope that he moves out of your sad town to a more accepting location where he will be accepted for who he is, what he can do and what she will become.


Your city leaders are a very disappointing lot ... and to think you made the newspaper in my town of Seattle only shows how shocked the rest of the country is in regards to your actions.


Karen Kilian

Seattle, Wash. 

Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007






Firing of City Manager Steve Stanton 




I just recently read a news article in which the city manager, Mr. Steve Stanton, who has done a better than average job and has shown his dependability and integrity for over 14 years by persisting at a thankless high profile position with class and prompt action, is now being set up to be fired based on his sexual orientation. How unbelievably prejudice! A male does the job without issue, and now that we chooses to become female he is fired?


What a bunch of hypocrites! And Mary Gray Black is first in line for that title. As a female I am ashamed that Ms. Black can show her face in public. Her ignorance and small mindedness is clearly a blight on feminism in general, and on womanhood over all.


When will this nation ever learn that people should be respected for their actions and choices in life and not because some nitwit in power sees them as deviant all of the sudden?


Barbara Barrett

Shoreline, Wash. 

Article published on Thursday, March 8, 2007




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