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Why Did San Diego's LGBT Community Support Filner?

November 29, 2012 5:17 p.m.


Stampp Corbin, publisher, San Diego LGBT Weekly

Nicole Murray Ramirez, community activist

Related Story: Why Did San Diego's LGBT Community Support Filner?


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The results of this month’s election reflect what some are calling a major change in national attitudes about gay rights. Voters in four states Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington showed support for marriage equality. And this was the first time same-sex marriage was approved in the US by a vote of the people. Here in San Diego the vote also reflected the complexity of LGBT politics with the defeat of the Republican Carl DeMaio and the fact that in his state, same-sex marriage is still being fought out in the courts. Joining me to talk about what this election says about gay political issues in California are my guests, Stampp Corbin is publisher of San Diego LGBT weekly, and Stampp welcome to the show.

STAMPP CORBIN: Thank you very much. I am glad to be here

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And community activist Nicole Murray Ramirez. Nicole, welcome.

NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ: Thank you and good afternoon.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: First let me get your overall reaction to the fact that same-sex marriage is now a winnable issue among voters let me start with you, Stampp.

STAMPP CORBIN: When I first started I was Obama's cochair for LGBT issues in the 2007 election. And we knew that LGBT equality was going to move forward. We really have made a significant advance in terms of marriage equality in the US. We lost ballot initiatives ballot initiatives 3132 times and this time we just 14. So there's a fundamental change in the way that Americans view marriage equality and so it's very exciting. We've got another seven states that we think are in the running. Next year. More by 2014. So right now we have nine states and the District of Columbia which recognized same-sex marriage.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Nicole, is this a profound change as Stampp says?

NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ: As Stampp says I happen to be a Latino and also a Catholic majority of pulling American Catholic support gay marriage is obviously the MRD lesbians bisexuals and transgender Americans are coming up and it sealed think that Harvey milk said that we must come out of the closet. When people find that they are neighbors when they find out they are coworkers, when they find out that there relative certainty lesbian bisexual transgender that starts the exceptions and knowledge and what's happening in America is an awakening that definitely the fight for the GLBT equality is the last civil rights movement for Americans. We are the last Americans who do not have full rights and religious people are coming on board. So it is a coalition. As a Latino I am proud that more and more Latinos are taking a stance and as you see in the NAACP the Executive Director boldly taking a stance to have the civil rights leaders of the black civil rights movement who started the civil rights, and even I as a Latina the Chavez learned from this is what's changing America is the coalition and I believe that's what's going to change and achieve full equality.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is potentially a big week for the issue of same-sex marriage and proposition eight. And the Defense of marriage act which is the federal Defense of marriage act. The Supreme Court is to decide on a number of different cases whether or not they will review them, whether or not they will take them on and review lower court rulings that either were for or against these issues. What is your feeling, Stampp? First of all have you been hearing something today being reported on that.

STAMPP CORBIN: Before I came in today MSNBC was reporting that the sprinkler was actually going to take the case of the San Francisco couple who are suing for same-sex benefits. She works for the federal government. It is a challenge to DOMA and MSNBC was reporting that the Supreme Court said they were going to take the case I was not able to validate that so I will just say that MSNBC is reporting it. But on Friday the Supreme Court is having a session where they are going to look at all of these cases surrounding marriage equality and the constitutionality of the Defense of marriage act. The Defense of marriage act, the primary concern says that marriage can only be doing can only be between one man and one woman and deny same-sex couples over 1100 rights that are guaranteed by the federal government through a variety of things on they refer to a spouse. Whether that be Social Security benefits, whether that be a whole host of different types of benefits that we are able to, traditional couples are able to get because they are married. We don't have the option. So, they are going to review the DOM A cases, they're going to review proposition eight. Now, proposition eight there are three options.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me just make it clear that what the Supreme Court is going to do they haven't decided whether they're going to review the decisions they're going to decide whether or not they believe the look at the cases.

STAMPP CORBIN: The California listener, what they are really interested in is what's going on with proposition eight. So there are three things that can happen with prop eight. The first thing is, they can decide not to review it. If they decide not to review it, then it goes back. The Ninth Circuit will reaffirm and there will be marriages of same-sex couples again almost immediately.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly because the lower court overturn proposition eight, right?

STAMPP CORBIN: Right and I was upheld in the appellate court at February 2012. So if they deny review we will be able to get married. Now, if they decide to review the case two things can happen. They can review it. Narrowly and just look at it in terms of, well California has the ability to have same-sex marriage. It is a state-by-state sort of issue. They could decide to review and more broadly. Now if they decide to do it more broadly we could have same-sex marriage throughout the United States if they affirm, or we could have same-sex marriage denied throughout the US if they affirm. So those are sort of the options that can happen if they decide to review the case.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If they decide to take it on at all. Nicole, let's review the long journey of prop 8 for the moment. Proposition eight been same sex marriage in California was approved by voters in 2008. Do you think in light of what's happened nationally that a similar ban would be voted down today? In other words, do you think if it was put to a vote

NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ: To the voters of California? No, not at all in fact there's been widespread polling from even conservative sources, Republican polling that Californians are even more willing to support same-sex marriage. More leaders have come out, leadership wise have come out on this issue. So I think that we are in a good position, if it was on the state ballot even this year with the win of Obama and the winds another states, I think it would have passed but I think the strategy as a Stampp has spoken is now we're looking to the courts and let's be honest, if we voted about African-Americans being able to have biracial marriage, that was put to a vote and the past. So sometimes hopefully the Supreme Court and the courts can give rights, equality that all Americans deserve and make the decision.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Stand before I move closer to home here in San Diego I've been reading about sometimes the Supreme CourtJustices put their fingers in here and try to figure out the way this wind is blowing and after the results of this particular election there's been speculation that maybe they will decide not to take up prop eight and to just let same-sex marriage becomes legal in California. And if you were a betting man what would you say the Supreme Court was going to do?

STAMPP CORBIN: Now that's a very difficult question because obviously obviously the leadership of the Supreme Court have tend to be viewed as Republican. But what's really great is nobody wants to be on the court that makes a modern-day Plessy versus Ferguson

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Something that will go down in history as something really behind the times and really not, counter to the flow of history.

STAMPP CORBIN: Counter to the flow of history so the simplest decision for them is to say that the ninth circuit and the appellate court has said, and we agree we are not going to review. And marriages will happen immediately. If they want to have a conversation about state versus state and comment that they believe it is a states rights issue, they might take the case. It is highly unlikely that they will make a nationwide decision concerning same sex marriage, either for or against. That is highly unlikely.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me move the conversation as I said back to San Diego. Carl DiMaio could've been the first openly gay mayor in San Diego but he was not supported by the gay community. Was a difficult decision for LGBT leaders to make not to support Carl DiMaio, Nicole?

NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ: Let me say this, the vast majority if not the majority of gay lesbian bisexual transgender leaders did not support Carl DiMaio including the victory fund headquartered in Washington whose sole mission is to support viable candidates. They did not take a stand. That was a loud message. San Diego's we are Republicans gays and lesbians and Democrats and independents. When Carl DiMaio not only accepted money from white ring and homophobes and never spoke out against their stance, when Carl DiMaio went around the tea party but most importantly, you have to understand this you have in front of you and African-American gay man and a Latino gay man, but our community is concerned with other issues. When Carl DeMaio was the only one of the other Republicans and Democrats voted against the Arizona State law to send the message and Carl did and let me tell you at that time I was advising him I said show some compassion if you have to press the no vote he refused to. He never spoke about compassion. The truth is the gay community, the defeat of Carl DeMaio was not a defeat for the gay community. It was, we say in the election of Bob, who has been since we've seen in his teens a civil right activist, truly loved Mayor Sanders, we think he was one of our greatest mayors that we probably have a Mayor that are going to touch on the issues which concerns homelessness and other issues that are really we are also interested in. We are not a one issue community.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right, Stampp there are some who criticize Mayor elect Bob Filner's campaign for efforts that seem to be aimed at reminding DiMaio's conservative supporters that DiMaio was gay. Was there anything about filters campaign that you didn't like in that direction?

STAMPP CORBIN: No, look people, they call it Gay baiting you cannot African-American baby. I'm African-American everywhere I go. I'm African-American whether I am north of the eight, South of the eight, in East County, at the coast. I'm African-American and I'm also gay. In all of those places. So, to say that filter was trying to bring out the fact that Carl is game, Carl should have, and what would have been appropriate is be honest and open everyplace. And if he, to take a page out of Denise Parker, who is the mayor of Houston, or Tammy Baldwin who was just elected the first openly lesbian, actually LGBT person to the Senate guess what? Whether she was in Green Bay or Milwaukee or Kenosha she was the same person and that is really important. And so, living authentically as the LGBT person that you are is what voters respond to.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What does this say, you made the point Nicole that the LGBT community is Democrat and Republican and not just one issue, but really what does this say about the issue for gay Republicans? Can a gay Republican get the support he or she needs from the LGBT community?

NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ: That's an interesting question and you have to know your we as bisexual transgender and gay men voted since the 1970s guess who brought the first coalition and opened the doors to City Hall. Republican Roger Hedgecock, I was supportive of the campaign. D is cold and carried precincts, Sandra carried practically every day precinct and so did other Republican candidates. So the truth of the matter is that yes, we do want the Republicans. I used to be a gay Republican until Ronald Reagan and then the issue of AIDS and I could no longer because of his not even focusing on it and in fact turning his whole back on the whole issue itself. That being said, we have supported straight Republican candidates in the city and have a strong coalition with them. We have supported candidates, Republican candidates for the assembly, for the Senate. The truth of the matter is the Republican Party has got to realize that big tent philosophy, etc. just read the Carl DiMaio said that he turned back a chance to be, request to be chairman of the state Republican Party. I think Arnold the bio is a brilliant man. I think he has a future. I wish you would take on the chairmanship of the California Republican Party. Many of us in the gay community, we are not going to shut Carl DiMaio. I think he is a young man. He's been here 10 years. He did get to know the neighborhoods, the barrio Station, the Malcolm X. library, visit and get the people, think about adjusted the district there's over 37 languages. So Carl has a bright future. I hope you rethink sudden becomes chair of the Republican party because if you've been reading the latest statements from him he's talking about, we need to open up the big tent philosophy. He could be that leader.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to talk about what challenges remain. We've been talking, first of all don't ask don't tell is gone. We talked a great deal about that on this show and it's in the past. We are seeing the tide turn on the issue of same-sex marriage so there's going to be a big issue this week, but it may as you say if it is declined by the supreme court we may start to see gay marriage here in San Diego and San Diego and California again. So, what else, what are the remaining issues for the LGBT community that there hasn't been as much spotlight on, there hasn't been as much of an issue on?

NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ: I would say that's me recently the past years there's been a spotlight on bullying. Here are the truth and the facts of the matter of why the gay population is growing. Stampp and I are from a certain generation certainly I am from an older generation than Stampp, but our user coming about remarkably I would never in middle school high school, junior high school, our number one priority has to be to protect our children to make sure not only the bullying, that they have not only a safe environment they also learned is California just passed the history of their community that yes there have been Californians who are haters. There are Americans who are heroes. Each of the first soldier who got injured in Iraq was a gay Latino American? So this is a history that fine lease going to be taught in schools. My concern as I'm getting older type person is that we protect our children, we educate them and not only that Latino wise, all our children need to be safe in school and I think that is our priority and should be.

STAMPP CORBIN: I think we have from a national perspective, we have legislative priorities like the employment nondiscrimination act. So now I can't get married in nine states and the District of Columbia, but I can go to work but they can fire me for being gay. Okay? That is a problem that we need to address and I think it is something we are going to be pushing in the second Obama administration to make sure that we can be safe at work and at home and not be discriminated against when we go to work. And then of course in terms of bringing it out back again to California we have to sort of looked at and forcing the laws already in the books for example we are supposed to be teaching LGBT history in schools in history and social studies classes. Whether that is actually being implemented in Bakersfield I don't know. We need to make sure that that happens and also we have a new law that is supposed to go into effect January 1 that says children can't be put into reparative therapy when they tell their children that they are gay and it is being challenged in the courts. And Atty. Gen., Harris is going to defend that law and our people are going to be exposed to you are not good, you are not wonderful because you are gay and you need to go to go to these horrible types of reparative therapy sessions.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to end it there I am just completely out of time. Thank you for a great discussion. I've been speaking with Nicole Murray Ramirez and Stampp Corbin publisher San Diego LGBT weekly thank you both for coming in.