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Some people involved in politics (elected officials and activists, alike) sure know how to squash a dream.
Ever since I was 15 years old, I had this dream of one day running for a seat on San Diego's City Council. In 1995, when I was in the ninth grade, then-District 7 City Councilmember Judy McCarty came to my school to speak. After the assembly, I rushed up to her staffer and asked if I could intern in her office (I don't even think I knew what the word "intern" meant then - it just sounded good).
While I doubt that allowing pubescent youngsters who aren't even of driving age to work in their office was a regular thing, they gave me a chance.
A couple days a week, I would ride the city bus after school in San Diego's Allied Gardens neighborhood to City Hall and help them with a bunch of really random tasks, like decorating the hallway of the City Council office floor with Chargers "Bolt" decorations (the football team was doing well that year).
In the days before the financial mismanagement scandals of San Diego's civic leaders came to light, I was enjoying being a part of the action at City Hall.
This stayed me with as I grew up and when I was about 18, I decided that one day I would run for (and hopefully win) a seat on the City Council.
And this was my dream until recently ...
Disgusted by dirty politics
In fact, as the mayoral election season heats up in San Diego, I find myself not even wanting to look at my Twitter feed, because it is so frustrating to see the back-and-forth childish antics that people in many camps in this race are resorting to.
It's disgusting. It's childish. It's offensive to the citizens of San Diego, and I want nothing to do with it.
Before I continue, I'd like to get a few points out of the way.
It's no secret that I have lent my support to Carl DeMaio's campaign for mayor. It is also no secret that I work part-time as an independent contractor for Hale Media, which publishes San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and San Diego Pix magazine. We all know that the company is owned by Johnathan Hale, who happens to be in a committed relationship with DeMaio, and I consider myself to be a good friend of the two men.
These factors in no way influence my thinking or political decisions. I have a full-time job at San Diego State University, which provides the income I live off of -- meaning that there is no pressure for me to support a certain candidate because my employer might want me to. If it ever came to that, I would sever my ties with the company immediately; but that would never be the case. I pride myself on the personal political decisions I make.
I have also always found myself to be someone who looks at all sides of an issue. People within my circle have always been quite interested in learning some of my political views, which range from conservative to liberal.
I vote for members of all political parties. I refuse to declare a specific political party. I have served on the board of the Stonewall Young Democrats, and I sometimes attend mixers and events hosted by the Log Cabin Republicans. I'm not a big fan of our border and the massive immigration restrictions the U.S. has imposed. I have mixed opinions on medical marijuana, and think that the labor union system needs a massive reform.
However, I always listen to all sides of an issue before coming to my own conclusion, something we should all do.
In listening to the debates in the mayoral race recently, there has been, in my opinion, some pretty nasty gay-baiting that seems to be going on.
Even worse, the gay-baiting is being carried out by a few in our own community!
It is pretty awesome that we have two openly gay candidates -- Carl DeMaio and Bonnie Dumanis, both Republicans -- running for mayor of the eighth-largest city in the nation. But there have been people from the media, and from other groups who claim to be a part of our community, that continue to use the "gay" issue against these candidates.
DeMaio was recently called out by an LGBT gossip columnist under the salacious headline "Did Carl DeMaio not acknowledge his gay relationship?" because his campaign listed him as "Single" in a Q&A with the San Diego Union-Tribune's editorial board, in the section relating to marital status.
In what appears to be an organized effort between the gossip columnist and members of organized labor (who have consistently opposed DeMaio's fiscal reform agenda), this gossip continued to be perpetuated via their social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Consider this: How would a heterosexual couple, who are not married yet, answer this question?
In the era of the instant "Fact Check" by media, DeMaio's camp compiled a biography that stuck to the legal facts -- in this case, assuming the choice was Single, Married or Domestic Partnership.
Another set of standards applied to Rep. Bob Filner
This weekend, the U-T printed a profile on another mayoral candidate: Rep. Bob Filner. His status is listed as "Divorced" -- but he currently has a serious relationship with a girlfriend.
Do we knock him for listing Divorced? No -- we accept the fact that legally, that is his status -- and his private and personal relationships are his and his alone.
I know that I have been put in this situation many times before, whether it be filling out a questionnaire or survey. I might be in a committed relationship, but I'm not married or in a legal domestic partnership. The simplest option to go with is Single -- or in Rep. Filner's case, Divorced.
How some in LGBT and labor-oriented political circles treated DeMaio's response versus Filner's response is illustrative. In DeMaio's case, they pounced on the response, in an effort to point out how he was "hiding" a gay relationship -- as though it is some dirty secret. In Filner's case, not a mention was made.
But isn't that the whole point? DeMaio is not being attacked because he's hiding his relationship. Quite the contrary, DeMaio's opponents are using his relationship with Johnathan Hale as a political weapon.
What are the real facts?
The truth is Carl -- as a private citizen -- lives openly and proudly in a committed relationship with Johnathan.
And the truth is DeMaio -- as a political leader -- has remained focused on advancing an agenda to reform city government.
It is DeMaio the political leader that opponents are trying to attack, by trying to distort Carl the private citizen.
I can attest to the fact that if Carl and Johnathan could get married, they would. And knowing them, it would be an over-the-top affair that was promoted to the world! Their love is strong that they both scream it from the rooftops, whenever they can.
Johnathan and Carl have their own separate careers and lives, but one thing that I know for sure: Carl is not afraid to show his love for Johnathan.
Even though DeMaio represents one of the most conservative districts in San Diego, he has proudly walked with Hale in all of the Fourth of July parades held in the district over the past three years.
In fact, DeMaio even invited me and some friends to join in the parades this year (I was unable to make it), showing that he is proud of the LGBT community that he is a part of (and some of my friends aren't the most conservative-looking people).
Other examples of the public aspect of their private relationship are not hard to find.
Carl and Johnathan hosted a fundraiser for Stepping Stone, San Diego's recovery organization focused on the LGBT community, at their Rancho Bernardo home last year. The two have also volunteered together at the Salvation Army's annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Additionally, they support numerous LGBT community causes year 'round - I know it - I'm usually at these events along with other staff members.
The fact that a gossip columnist and organized labor are calling DeMaio out -- saying that he is trying to "hide" the fact that he is gay -- is shameful and so far from the truth.
People who are saying these things are, to me, no friend of the LGBT community.
Simply put, these people are not working toward our best interests, and their actions should be loudly condemned.
When I signed on to participate in DeMaio's campaign, I thought the hardest group of people to persuade to support this candidate would be the LGBT community.
But here's the surprise: Other than a few loud vocal opponents, people in the LGBT community have been lining up to ask how they can get involved in DeMaio's campaign. It is clear that LGBT people also care about the financial future of this great city and see that DeMaio has a solid plan to fix the mess.
Some tell me that the gay-baiting is "just a part of politics."
I don't agree. Politics don't have to be this way.
As a matter of full disclosure, SDGLN Publisher Johnathan Hale has a personal relationship with Carl DeMaio. Their relationship in no way impacts the editorial decisions made by Ken Williams, SDGLN Editor in Chief, and does not influence our political coverage. All candidates are allowed to submit two pieces per month for our Commentary page. Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (877) 727-5446, x713.