My Response and Challenge to Frank VanderSloot

Frank VanderSloot has released his response to Glenn Greenwald’s articleYou can read VanderSloot’s statement in its entirety HERE.

As one of the blogs mentioned in the Greenwald piece, I would like to offer my own perspective on a few of his points, as well as issue Mr. VanderSloot a challenge of sorts.

The first time I had ever heard of Frank VanderSloot was during the “It’s Elementary” controversy. I had only recently come out of the closet and was still trying to figure out what exactly it meant to be a gay man living in Idaho.

I remember watching the film, hope filling up inside me, thinking, if only my own teachers had taken the time to explain that it was okay to be who I was and that it was okay to have respect for others regardless of our differences, I could have been saved from years of feeling ashamed, alone and bullied.

Then came Mr. VanderSloot’s billboards and the fight over Idaho public Television’s funding for airing the documentary. I was convinced, and still am to this day, that if those like Mr. VanderSloot could only realize how much good that film could do for those of us growing up in areas like rural Idaho, there wouldn’t have been any controversy at all.

VanderSloot’s billboards read,”Should public television promote the homosexual lifestyle to your children? Think about it.”

The fact that someone would spend the money to accuse the film of promoting a “lifestyle” was and is, in my mind at least, an attack on not only the science of sexuality itself, since we know that there is no such thing as a “homosexual lifestyle”, but also an attack on those who had spent our growing up years bullied, afraid and ashamed of who we are.

To this day I still consider that controversy one of my prime reasons for being involved in the equality movement.

In his letter demanding that I remove my recent article concerning VanderSloot and his ties to the Romney campaign, VanderSloot’s lawyer wrote that I had misinterpreted the billboard message. That I had”wrongfully” suggested that it was anti-gay. “An objective review…makes it clear that Mr. VanderSloot was supporting a completely different point-one dealing with only the appropriateness of the documentary’s subject matter for elementary-school-age children and its funding with tax dollars. …it is simply not true to say that Mr. VanderSloot’s statements or actions were critical of gays, or that he is anti-gay,” he wrote.

I’ll let his comment stand for itself.

The attorney’s letter went on to pick out two other points that I raised in my article. One issue dealt with the reporter who covered the Boy Scout scandal in Eastern Idaho. The other was a $100,000 donation made by his wife, Belinda VanderSloot, in support of California’s Prop 8.

Aside from the quotes from his editor, the reporter can tell his own story, if he so chooses, but the marriage issue is one I consider to be very personal.

Growing up I watched my friends, relatives and loved ones get married and make homes and lives for themselves. I too dreamed of the day when that would be possible for me.

That moment came in 2008 when the California Supreme Court ruled that a voters initiative was unconstitutional. My husband and I were among the 11,000 couples who saw their dreams of having a legally bound marriage come true.

Then along came Proposition 8. It was not only a threat to my own marriage, but to the thousands of gay and lesbian couples who were and are still waiting for the day when two gay men or two lesbian women are considered just as equal in the eyes of the law as Mr. VanderSloot and his wife.

Do I consider the donation an attack on not only my marriage, but on my sexuality?

You bet your sweet Jesus I do.

Prop 8 had everything to do with discriminating against the LGBT community. This is not just my opinion, but the opinion of every court that has heard the Prop 8 case thus far.

VanderSloot’s attorney saw it differently, writing,”the donation should be distinguished from Mr. VanderSloot’s and Melaleuca’s actions. Contrary to the implication of your article, the VanderSloot’s have publicly expressed support for numerous rights of the LGBT community.”

Mr. VanderSloot says in his response to Greenwald’s article that,”When it appears the author has an agenda, we first try a friendly approach. Only when it is evident that the author could care less about the truth and is intent on doing damage for the sake of doing damage, do we raise the possibility of legal action.”

No one called me prior to receiving the letter accusing me of making false, misleading or defamatory statements against Mr. VanderSloot. The letter was the first time I became aware that there was even any objection to my article. In fact, when I replied a few days later that I was working on a response to the letter, I received another e-mail telling me that I had to, “address the issue today or we will have to consider escalating this issue to a much more serious level.”

I chose to remove the article rather than risk finding out what that “escalation” meant.

I also invited the attorney or any other Melilucca representative to go on the record and clear up the issues I had.

That phone call never came.

There is no denying this blog has an agenda, it’s purpose is to serve the LGBTQIA community in Idaho with information, commentary and news with a focus on equality.

Although the letter from VanderSloot’s attorney theorizes that I was,”trying to sway voters away from Mitt Romney and his presidential campaign.” The truth is my only purpose with the article was to call attention to the injustices and harms done by actions I believe were committed against myself, my husband and my community.

Mr. VanderSloot writes in his response,” I have many gay friends whom I love and respect. And I believe they love and respect me. I am very close to some of these very good people. Our company has thousands of gay customers, independent marketing executives, and employees. I believe they feel welcome and valued.”

If that statement is true I would challenge him to publicly show his love and respect for ALL of Idaho’s LGBT community by asking Idaho’s legislature to add the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the state’s Human Rights law.

I would challenge him to show how much he cares about us by asking his support in standing up and speaking up for marriage equality, anti-bullying measures and local LGBT programs and services.

Finally, I would challenge him to show his love and respect by allowing sites like Jody May-Chang’s and the Idaho Agenda the freedom to point out when we feel injustices have occurred against against ourselves and our community.

(LocalNews8 in Pocatello has also picked up the story. You can watch it HERE.)


14 Responses to My Response and Challenge to Frank VanderSloot

  1. West Man says:

    Readers please let this duplicitous, Homophobe, Vandersloot (doesn’t his name sounds like something much more disgusting than “Santorum”?) know that you know He’s a money grubbing liar! here’s information on his “Gay friendly” business. Boycott any involvement and give them a call to express you displeasure!
    Corporate Headquarters
    Melaleuca, Inc.
    3910 S. Yellowstone Hwy
    Idaho Falls, ID 83402 U.S.A.
    1 (208) 522-0700

    • Kay Remington says:

      Evidently you don’t know Frank Vandersloot or you would not be saying these despicable and untrue comments. He is a very honest and upstanding citizen of the United States of America and he leads Melaleuca with integrity and nothing but a good example. Shame on you for talking about a man that you know nothing about.

  2. Kevin Hornbuckle says:

    I read Greenwald’s post about this issue, and now the link to this blog post. Tidmarsh is correct in assessing VanderSloot’s bill board (“”Should public television promote the homosexual lifestyle to your children? Think about it.”) as an attack. As with most bullies, the defense is that it didn’t intend what it clearly is. This is cowardly and tactical. Its cowardly because VanderSloot won’t stand behind his words. Its tactical because it is essentially a blaming of the victim.

    Are gay people, children in this case, victims? Yes, its wrong and hurtful to characterize a campaign to let kids be who they really are…as ‘promoting a gay lifestyle.’ I probably put kids at greater risk of being targeted for being different. And guess what, bullies don’t give a pass to the apparently heterosexual kids who are different. They suffer too.

    Tidmarsh writes, “I remember watching the film, hope filling up inside me, thinking, if only my own teachers had taken the time to explain that it was okay to be who I was and that it was okay to have respect for others regardless of our differences, I could have been saved from years of feeling ashamed, alone and bullied.”

    I spent many years working as a school bus driver in Oregon where I live. I was very strict about not permitting bullying of any type. It allowed the kids to be themselves and everyone benefited. The people of Idaho would benefit by not tolerating exclusion of people because of their personal lives. The social function of the intimidation is to make people work for low wages and be subservient slaves. That is far broader than repressing just homosexuals. It is a generally corrosive effect on the society at large.

  3. Reblogged this on All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go and commented:
    James Tidmarsh responds to Frank VanderSloot’s apologia.

  4. Pingback: Frank VanderSloot responds to his critics « All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go

  5. angrybeaver says:

    West Man:

    Thanks for voicing “you displeasure.” Very adept. And the thank you for supplying your “information” on his “gay-friendly” business in the form of…a street address. Frank isn’t a liar, and he’s not money grubber. He takes care of his own–as well as his opponents–and he’s built a business that’s solid enough to avoid any need for “grubbing.” 😉 How’s your business doing?

    • Matthew says:

      I don’t quite understand…you’re arguing that he’s not a money-grubber because he has a business that makes lots of money?

    • MosesZD says:

      Money grubbing is how you build up a business! Some may be smarter about it… Some may be luckier about it… Some may be more ruthless about it…

      But it’s all money-grubbing.

      As for his obvious lies… Don’t bother. You don’t attack with one hand while stabbing some one in the back with another then expect to believe you when you tell everybody how much you loved poor Ceaser, laying there on the floor dead with you knife in his back…

  6. joe says:

    I chose to remove the article rather than risk finding out what that “escalation” meant.

    Any initial interest and respect I might have had in your situation went right out the window after seeing this. Don’t expect support from anyone else if you’re not prepared to stand up yourself for what’s right. No excuses.

  7. @Joe, I’m truly sorry you feel that way. I’d like to think I have stood up for the interests of my husband, myself and my community. Hopefully, you and your family will never be placed in a similar situation. Thanks for reading-James Tidmarsh.

  8. Pingback: HRC Calls on Romney to Drop Frank VanderSloot « The Idaho Agenda

  9. Pingback: BuzzFeed Picks Up Frank VanderSloot Story « The Idaho Agenda

  10. Annette says:

    Frank is a homophobe and doesn’t like being called out on it. The world is changing and this bigot can’t adjust. It’s laughable watching him on FAUX news attempting to play the victim. Frank routinely has his attorneys send out letters threatening people who disagree with his bigotry. He doesn’t like the fact that his name has become associated with hate. Oh well….you reap what you sow.

  11. Pingback: Frank VanderSloot files lawsuit against Mother Jones « The Idaho Agenda

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