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Lately I find myself shocked, hurt and disappointed by the war LGBT Weekly seems to be mounting against city councilmember and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio.
In fact, you can read some sort of attack against him in the LGBT Weekly almost every week, and it has become very disturbing.
I say this as a young voter, a community organizer, a veteran, a proud member of the San Diego Democrats for Equality (SDDE), former member of the LGBT redistricting task force, and most importantly, a Democrat.
I am sure the phone calls and rumors will commence and I will be accused of attacking two leaders in our community associated with LGBT Weekly, but that is not the case.
Let me say right up front that Nicole Murray-Ramirez has been very gracious and supportive to me as an activist and I respect him very much for his work over decades of time, and Stampp Corbin, as well.
In fact, several who have their own personal issues with them (not the purveyors of SDGLN) have told me not to work with them, but I do so anyway, because their opinions -- as long as they remain respectful -- do not negate their personal contributions to the community, because that is the true essence of leadership and productive activism.
However, it is what I have been seeing lately that I wish to bring to light today.
Specifically, I don't think that the repeated negative commentaries against Carl DeMaio in the LGBT Weekly portray our community in a positive light, especially at a time when we should be working together in our quest for equality.
It all began with childish name calling. When name calling didn’t seem to work, they are now relying on innuendo, gross distortions of the truth and outright fabrications – all with the intent of painting DeMaio as "dangerous" to the LGBT community.
To understand why LGBT Weekly is waging this non-stop smear campaign against DeMaio, you have to understand why DeMaio is currently the front-runner to become San Diego’s next mayor.
Polling has DeMaio in a comfortable first-place position, which shows that his popularity extends beyond his Republican base. He leads among Independent voters and also pulls in a decent chunk of Democratic support.
City-wide voters don’t seem to care that he is gay – and are instead impressed by this businessman-turned-watchdog who has a plan to fix the city’s finances and get people back to work.
The truth is, DeMaio is not dangerous to the LGBT community –- he is dangerous to union leadership that has way too much influence on San Diego politicians -- and that is exactly where the driving force behind LGBT Weekly’s smear campaign can be found.
DeMaio’s popularity stems from his proposals to significantly reform city employee labor contracts – and his willingness to take on labor unions. Indeed, organized labor has declared their own war on DeMaio’s candidacy – and have set up a campaign committee with significant funds to lob attacks at him.
Those attacks have taken on a bitter, personal dimension.
Organized labor has longstanding ties in the LGBT community, with deep relationships shared between leaders of LGBT organizations and labor organizations. It’s natural, because labor – to its credit – has been an ally of the LGBT community over the years.
In fact, LGBT Weekly Publisher Corbin, as well as his mentor, columnist and activist Murray-Ramirez, are both heavily involved in numerous labor union organizations, efforts, and activities.
As I said, I know them both personally and respect them for their many contributions to our community. But at the end of the day, in the words of both Stampp and Murray-Ramirez, we can, “agree to disagree” in a productive, cohesive fashion.
Unfortunately, the production of these attacks on DeMaio is fueling a very scary anti-gay-within-gay atmosphere.
We are now even seeing labor leaders attacking DeMaio directly for not being openly gay "enough" and they don’t even represent the gay community. They have even attacked DeMaio for his supposed "denial" of his relationship over one article (in the San Diego Union Tribune) that was taken out of context.
How did we get this petty and shallow? To say that they don't gay-it-up enough? Is this Hillcrest High School? Or is it a politically powerful community that brings something to the table?
Let's be honest, it goes well beyond labor union politics to a basic business dispute, on a very personal level.
DeMaio is in a committed relationship with Johnathan Hale, publisher of San Diego Gay & Lesbian News (SDGLN).
LGBT Weekly and Hale’s SDGLN are in a practical competition for advertisers and scoops. Most LGBT Weekly staffers are transitions from the defunct Gay & Lesbian Times (GLT) – and hold a blood-revenge grudge against Hale for having pushed GLT out of the market.
To anyone who knows the players, it’s no secret that Corbin and Murray-Ramirez have spent the better part of the past two years taking shots at DeMaio and Hale, and both also admit to having had "falling outs" with them.
The real Carl DeMaio
I’d like to suggest you may want to learn more about DeMaio, like I have, both through clear means of research and also by personally giving him a chance and speaking to him, face-to-face.
He is a rare gem and if you have already done your own research and compared it to what people say, you would see that the truth is shockingly different than what is being written.
Granted, by his own admission, Carl DeMaio is not a rainbow flag-waiving gay activist. Indeed, DeMaio has made it perfectly clear that he’s running on a fiscal reform platform, not a social issues platform.
Dare I say that’s ok?
Dare I also say that we all fight for the civil gay rights movement with gifts endowed to us personally and in our own way? I don’t know one person in District 3 who can crawl into the trenches and fight the fight of equality in District 5 with wisdom and prudence, save DeMaio.
DeMaio has a good voting record for our community. In fact, there have only been two LGBT legislative votes at the city council since DeMaio took office in late 2008: The resolution to urge the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and the Equal Benefits Ordinance. DeMaio not only voted in favor of them both, he also made a moving speech and video presentation on the impact DADT had on the partners of LGBT service members that moved attendees to tears.
DeMaio has willingly supported local LGBT organizations – raising money for them and actively participating in their programs and events. That support has been key to several groups. DeMaio and Hale intervened at a key moment for Stepping Stone earlier this year, when the organization faced a severe fiscal shortfall – with DeMaio taking to local television to promote the organization and holding an emergency fundraiser at his house in Rancho Bernardo and bringing new donors to the table.
In addition, everyone has celebrated the work of the Trevor Project here in San Diego and its attempts to tackle the pressing problem of teen suicide among LGBT youth. But to quote Forrest Wright, a Trevor Project Ambassador, "Carl DeMaio was the one who issued a challenge from the beginning, to get behind Trevor Project and has been a catalyst for the progress made in the past two years."
DeMaio was the only councilmember to vote in favor of supporting some LGBT groups during the last round of the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding allocations. Does Todd Gloria’s decision to support one gay organization over another make him either anti-gay or “dangerous” to the LGBT community? Of course not!
Does Bob Filner’s vote in support for DOMA make him dangerous to the LGBT community? Although Filner has now thankfully reversed his stance on DOMA, think about the time and energy -- both emotionally and financially -- that we now have to spend to defeat such a powerful piece of legislation that has Filner’s name tattooed onto its discriminatory face.
By LGBT Weekly’s standard, if any of these votes were cast by Carl DeMaio, they would be calling for the gallows.
Endorsements must equate to selling out, right?
LGBT Weekly recently made issue of the endorsements of conservative talk-show host Roger Hedgecock and former State Senator Larry Stirling for DeMaio's mayoral campaign. They have gone so far as to suggest that the endorsements must obviously mean DeMaio has made some secret pact with them to ignore LGBT issues.
First off, DeMaio has been endorsed by almost 4,000 San Diegans -– and as anyone can see if reviewing the list on his website -- there are well known Democratic and LGBT names on DeMaio’s endorsement list.
But back to Hedgecock and Stirling; both endorsed DeMaio for city council in 2008. Both have said their endorsements stem from DeMaio’s fiscal reform proposals, not his sexual orientation or his position on social issues.
A close examination of the endorsements of the three other mayoral candidates reveal that some of them have – as LGBT Weekly would argue – "bigoted" individuals supporting them.
Which means I guess, technically, in the philosophy of LGBT Weekly, one could say that because last week Bonnie Dumanis received the endorsement of ultra-conservative talk-show host Rick Roberts –- a big supporter of Prop 8 -- it makes her "dangerous to the LGBT community".
Or that since Nathan Fletcher has accepted the endorsements of ultra-conservative legislators who all campaigned for Prop 8, including local State Senator Joel Anderson –- who not only campaigned for Prop 8 but sponsored the legal arguments supporting its constitutionality -- makes him "dangerous to the LGBT community."
Even a close review of Bob Filner’s own congressional campaign show several donors who have contributed to both Filner and the Yes on 8 campaign over the years. Again, "dangerous to the LGBT community"?
Do these endorsements and donations really make Filner, Fletcher, and Dumanis themselves, bigots?
No – it just means people are supporting them for a variety of reasons. Yet by LGBT Weekly’s repeated standard, we should label Filner, Fletcher and Dumanis all "dangerous" to the LGBT community.
Or my favorite from the San Diego Democrats for Equality (SDDE), are they are only gay half the time, or maybe a quarter? (Get your measuring cups out!)
History in the Making
If he wins this election, DeMaio would become the first openly-gay elected mayor in our city’s history. His election will shatter a glass ceiling in local politics – and in so many ways, be seen as a milestone in the fight for acceptance and equality for the LGBT community both locally and nationwide.
But that’s not the history LGBT Weekly seems to be concerned with -- they seem more concerned with the history surrounding DeMaio's city financial reform proposals.
Because instead of celebrating DeMaio’s surge in the polls, LGBT Weekly is collaborating with the labor unions who oppose DeMaio. To organized labor, if DeMaio’s fiscal reform agenda succeeds in San Diego, it might ignite reforms up and down the state and across the nation. We get that – and respect their right to oppose his proposals. But don’t try to spin it as having anything at all to do with issues of importance to the gay community.
That is very important to note. The point of this article is neither rebuttal, nor a counter attack.
We must stop the gay-on-gay hate. Not tomorrow, not for a couple of months, it must start right now. It is a circle of nothing but mindlessness and it is turning off the younger generation of voters to the democratic process.
Meanwhile, while "we" attack DeMaio, he attacks us naught.
I am incredibly thankful that in a party where belief on social issues is quite poisonous to our civil liberties, Carl DeMaio has fought the fight and continues to do so, even with battle scars from his own community.
Plain and simple, we are better than this and you the reader can choose this day to let LGBT Weekly know you disavow and oppose any form of gay-baiting.
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.