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SALEM -- A letter reportedly written 13 years ago by Republican candidate for Governor Dennis Richardson says moral standards of atheists and gays should not be imposed on the Boy Scouts of America.

The letter showed up on the Facebook page of Portland blogger Byron Beck. He refused to reveal who gave it to him but says he did not dig up the information himself.

He said Richardson sent the letter to the Medford Mail Tribute in June of 2001.

It reads, in part:

...Atheists and homosexual men have rights under the law but their moral standards should no more be forced on the Boy Scouts of America than the BSA's standards should be forced on them.

Political analysts Len Bergstein said it s bad for Richardson because it takes him off his main message at a time most voters still don t know what he stands for.

If this is the first thing that they know about him, where he has to defend himself and whether or not he's fair minded, or whether he's got mainstream values, just having to defend yourself on some issues that when its clearly your own words, even if it s in the past, I think is an issue, said Bergstein.

Richardson s campaign said he was in Central Oregon and not available to comment on the letter. The campaign sent a statement that Richardson released after gay marriage became legal in Oregon.

That letter said, in part:

The rights of all Oregonians are sacred to me. I respect the judicial system as the authority on the law, and as Governor of Oregon, I will take an oath to uphold and protect the state s laws.

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