The race for Shelby County District Attorney has entered into murky territory with Democratic Party nominee Judge Joe Brown saying that an Internet post of him making reference to incumbent Amy Weirich’s marital status and her sexual preferences reflect an off-the-cuff moment never meant to be aired or used by his campaign or supporters in any form.
“This came about due to the fact that my opponent will not debate me,” Brown told The New Tri-State Defender on Wednesday. “It was a private moment just blowing off steam and never meant to be used in any context.”
However, Brown’s “private moment” was being taped. And while he is captured complaining that Weirich would not agree to a debate and refused to attend a planned public education forum about law enforcement and the justice system, there also were his statements referencing unsubstantiated questions about whether Weirich is gay.
Here is how Brown framed the matter:
“We were trying to set up a forum for people to learn about the criminal justice system and how law enforcement works. It was to be educational and non-partisan and we invited the Republicans to participate. It was a closed door situation and we got around to talking about how politics really work, and I was talking to this group of people about how the media was asking me how am I going to finance the whole Democratic Party and what was the shape of my finances since I was going through a divorce.
“I told them that it (the divorce) was none of their damn business, but if they wanted to report on allegations and rumors about my personal life, since they wanted to get into my marriage business, why don’t they ask my opponent the same type of questions about the allegations following her that her husband had moved out and had taken the children.”
Anyone who accuses him of being homophobic is absolutely off base, Brown said.
According to Brown, a high-ranking and highly-paid ($150,000) member of his company is gay, adding that he agreed to allow the employee to be married on property Brown owned. (The couple broke up prior to the wedding.) In addition, said Brown, numerous gay organizations have acknowledged his fairness and impartiality during the period that Brown was doing his syndicated “Judge Joe Brown” television show.
“So it’s simply this, treat me the same way as you do my opponent,” said Brown. “If you are going to ask questions and report rumors about my personal (life), do the same with theirs.”
Married with four children, Weirich recently told an audience, “The fact that I now have to have a conversation with our 8-year-old son and our 12-year-old daughter about harmful, baseless and delusional comments is just a sad day for Memphis.”
Weirich’s campaign manager, Kim Perry, is quoted about the matter on the Fox 13 website. “Amy and her husband are at home right now. I hope for Judge Brown’s sake and the community that those around him will intervene to get him the help he needs.”
Brown on Wednesday said, “My thing is this, if she is (gay), come on out of the closet. This is 2014, ain’t no harm.”
There is, said Brown, a bigger issue at stake.
“I worked for EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and an employer cannot consort with anyone in the company, down-low or not. And also, we have a huge resurgence of HIV in Memphis and Shelby County and there are many women that are concerned about their spouses potentially giving them AIDS. It applies to both sides. What you have to do for one gender you have to do for both. So if you can ask the gay men about being down-low, you can ask the gay women. I didn’t get into any of that because the remark was made in a joking manner.”