skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Some In San Diego’s LGBT Community Not Embracing DeMaio’s Same-Sex Partner Ad

Evening Edition

Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio made national headlines recently with a new campaign ad. The ad shows Republican former City Councilman DeMaio and his partner Johnathan Hale walking hand-in-hand during a gay pride parade, while a voiceover says DeMaio "believes in equality and diversity and is a defender of our personal freedoms."

The Wall Street Journal reported this is the first time any Congressional candidate of either party has featured a same-sex partner in an ad. Although the commercial is not yet being shown on TV, its mark on history added early interest to a race that is expected to draw national focus and funding anyway as freshman Congressman Scott Peters, a Democrat, fends off the challenge from DeMaio to represent the 52nd Congressional District.

But some members of San Diego's gay community have not received the ad warmly.

LGBT activist Will Rodriguez-Kennedy is a Marine veteran and Republican-turned-Democrat.

Aired 2/24/14 on KPBS News.

Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio made national headlines with a recent commercial. But some members of San Diego's LGBT community are not embracing the ad.

LGBT activist Will Rodriguez-Kennedy is a Republican-turned-Democrat and former president of the local chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, a Republican gay rights advocacy group (he resigned after making a purchasing mistake with the group's debit card). Rodriguez-Kennedy views the ad as political opportunism and said DeMaio does not have a track record of advocating for gay rights.

"His personal community was fighting a major civil rights issue, and he was quiet," Rodriguez-Kennedy said. "That speaks to a person's integrity, it speaks to a person's political courage, and it's something that should be at issue in a political campaign, especially when we have Washington politicians who typically lack political courage."

DeMaio was not yet a member of the City Council when it voted on endorsements of same-sex marriage in 2007 and 2008, but did vote for a council call to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, as well as a resolution to require city contractors to offer benefits to same-sex partners. He also helped install a rainbow flag in Hillcrest. Still, he's had a troubled past with San Diego's gay community.

During the 2011-2012 mayoral race, the San Diego Log Cabin Republicans did not endorse DeMaio or another gay Republican candidate, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Then DeMaio was booed and hissed at during a mayoral debate at The San Diego LGBT Community Center. Opponent Nathan Fletcher said DeMaio had attacked him for supporting gay rights to win favor with Republicans.

"Let me make something perfectly clear," DeMaio responded. "I have never criticized any of my opponents for…."

The crowd cut in, shouting "Liar! Liar!" until the moderator, KPBS reporter Tom Fudge, quieted them.

"I have not criticized any of our candidates for their positions on social issues, nor will I, because I do not believe the roll of the mayor is to advance a social issue agenda," DeMaio continued. The crowd erupted again in boos, hisses and more calls of "Liar!"

Carl DeMaio Booed at Pride Parade

Above: Mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio is booed by some in the crowd at San Diego's 2012 pride parade.

A few months later, DeMaio was booed again as he walked in the gay pride parade. Some parade goers said they were protesting DeMaio because his mayoral campaign took donations from hotelier Doug Manchester, who was also a strong supporter of banning same-sex marriages.

Most recently, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, who is also gay and is seen raising the Hillcrest rainbow flag with DeMaio in the ad, said in a statement that he supports DeMaio's opponent Peters.

DeMaio would not give an interview for this story, but in 2012, he told KPBS he had no problem taking money from Manchester.

"I think obviously I have strongly held personal views," he said. "The issues that are important to me as Carl, an individual, private citizen. But my role as mayor is quite different."

Susan Jester, the president of San Diego Log Cabin Republicans, said she's proud DeMaio got donations from Manchester.

"We should be applauding that, we should be congratulating Carl that such a person, such a powerful man, is willing to put his money behind Carl," she said.

Jester said DeMaio shouldn't have to campaign on gay rights, any more than a straight person should have to campaign on being straight.

"The thing that's different about Carl in terms of the LGBT community is he's not a gay activist, he never was a gay activist," she said. "He was a businessman who happened to be gay who ran for office and got in on his merits and his experience. The gay part sort of came along with it."

Susan Jester is the president of the San Diego chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, a Republican gay rights advocacy group.

But Rodriguez-Kennedy sees it differently.

"He refers to LGBT equality not as a civil rights issue, but as a social issue, which is a fundamental difference in how you frame an issue," he said.

"There's a quote that I use that says the hottest places in hell are reserved for people who in times of great moral crisis maintained their neutrality," he added.

Rodriguez-Kennedy said he doesn't think there's anything DeMaio could do to win back members of the gay community he's lost.

"Whatever he did would be seen as politically expedient right now," he said. "What really counts is what you did while you're in office."

But Mesa College politics professor Carl Luna said DeMaio's commercial is still likely a smart move. While DeMaio will still focus his campaign on fiscal discipline and reforming Congress, his stance on social issues will also be more important now that he's running for national office, Luna said. The commercial shows DeMaio realizes that.

"What Carl DeMaio is trying to do is even before people are really focusing on the election, to rebrand himself and the Republican Party in that district," Luna said. "This is the new Republican Party, it's not last year's close-minded party of no, without alienating enough of his base in the primary to win."

DeMaio told The Wall Street Journal he wanted to include his partner Hale in a mayoral campaign ad, but consultants advised against it, fearing it would alienate conservatives. DeMaio said those same consultants are not working on his Congressional campaign.

At a recent Log Cabin Republicans meeting, DeMaio told the group someone had emailed him to say the commercial is "throwing this in our face."

"My response was, boy, this is quite interesting, have you never seen a straight candidate's ads before?" DeMaio said. "You take a look at every candidate and they have pictures of their wife, their husband, their daughter, their son, their grandkids, their puppy, their goldfish.

"I mean, get real, this is just campaigning."

Carl DeMaio Speaks to Log Cabin Republicans

Above: Carl DeMaio speaks at a meeting of Log Cabin Republicans about his new ad, which shows him and his partner holding hands.

The National Organization for Marriage, a political group that fights against same-sex marriage, wrote a letter to "marriage supporters" last week denouncing DeMaio and his ad and encouraging people to vote for Kirk Jorgensen, the other Republican candidate running for the same seat.

"Carl DeMaio claims to be 'one of us' but his vision of America is very different from ours," the letter said. "He comes from an environment where sexual morality is a thing of the past, where children are indoctrinated into questioning their own sexuality, where gender is considered fluid but sexual orientation is fixed, and where a candidate who supports abortion, gay 'marriage,' gun control and medical marijuana can call himself a conservative — and a 'reformer.'"

Jester said voters who don't like seeing DeMaio and his partner in a commercial would likely not vote for DeMaio anyway.

"If you alienate 10 percent but win 40 percent, or 30 percent, you're coming out ahead," she said.

The filing deadline for the 52nd Congressional District election is March 7. The district represents Coronado, Poway and San Diego neighborhoods like Carmel Valley, La Jolla and Point Loma.

DeMaio, Jorgensen and Peters are the only declared candidates so far. The top two vote-getters in the June 3 primary will advance to the November election.

This story has been updated to clarify language about Carl DeMaio's voting record on the City Council.

Comments

Avatar for user 'dialyn'

dialyn | February 24, 2014 at 8:39 a.m. ― 8 months ago

Like too many politicians, DeMaio will do anything, say anything to get elected. I had to work with the man when I was with the City, and it was not a fun experience. The City Council gave him too much power over a department with no good reason other than they took his word that he could make recommendations regarding a field that he had no experience in, and his recommendations were not improvements. Personally, I wouldn't vote for him because I just can't find in myself to trust him. And, for me, it's not a LGBT issue but a character issue.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'willrk787'

willrk787 | February 24, 2014 at 9:11 a.m. ― 8 months ago

"It's not an LGBT issue but a character issue" is a good point, Dailyn, and you're right.

As I said in the interview it's about courage and integrity. You cannot trust someone to fight for the liberties and rights of all people when he was silent on the battle civil rights and even attacked people for supporting his own civil rights on the command of his donors who financed a measure which meant to revoke his civil rights.

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality" This quote which is attributed to John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. first came from Dante. It encapsulates my overall point re: DeMaio.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DavidKing'

DavidKing | February 24, 2014 at 9:23 a.m. ― 8 months ago

Nothing demonstrates the obvious political bias of KPBS, a taxpayer funded organization, than articles like this. Carl DeMaio served on the SD City Council, a body having virtually nothing to do with gay rights issues. I've never been Carl's best friend or even a big supporter, but this is obvious and outrageous. The one time gay issues came up was the decision to file an amicus brief in support of same sex marriage and Jerry Sanders made the tough choice of standing by his daughter instead of conservative voters. I was General Counsel of the local GOP and participated in the meetings defending his choice to stand with his daughter at the risk of costing the party support of opponents of same sex marriage. The decision was firm and final to stand with Mayor Sanders. I was in the room when Carl called dozens of people into the room to say he was running for council, and bravely state that he was gay. No one in the room saw him differently before or after the meeting. Where is any substance in this article? Mr. Kennedy believes that instead of "doing his job" to fix the way SD runs its business he was supposed to use a soap box on matters of almost no relevance to city operations. Simple: gays are more supportive of Democrats and don't support a firebrand fiscal conservative like Carl. Go figure. What else? He took money from Manchester. Hell, if you want to win in politics, you better appreciate your donors. And, Manchester doesn't rant about social issues. He gave some money to support same sex marriage, but doesn't breathe fire from the mountaintop. I used to stay up all night studying materials to prepare for the best program on radio, Roundtable, back when it was moderated by an impartial person--Gloria Penner. Roundtable now leans from left to leftist, with nothing comparable to its old impartial moderation. I'd never appear on the program again, NEVER. I won't even listen to it. This is shameful and KPBS should consider its obligations to fairly report political news, not just vapid innuendo with an obvious bias. I founded a nonprofit news organization, and know it's tough to be fair. SDNR had had guest columns from Todd Gloria, Chris Kehoe, we fairly interviewed Filner, Alvarez, etc. I have personally ripped a new backside for GOP officials (Dumanis, etc.). This is nearly mindless material, unfair, and says more about KPBS's political bias to favor Democrats than anything about Carl DeMaio.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | February 24, 2014 at 9:36 a.m. ― 8 months ago

The fact that he is a gay republican is pure hilarity. The gay hating party has a gay man as an up and comer. If you abandon your values for your career you are simply a shell of a man with no allegiance to your heart. How can you be trusted to make sound decisions for the good of the people?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Claire Trageser'

Claire Trageser, KPBS Staff | February 24, 2014 at 9:46 a.m. ― 8 months ago

DavidKing, thanks for your comment. The story says DeMaio did not have the opportunity to vote on gay rights issues while on the City Council. Jerry Sanders made his statement in support of same-sex marriage in 2007, before DeMaio was elected. I think all of the points you've made in your comment were represented in the story. I'm sorry you see it as biased.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'KTB'

KTB | February 24, 2014 at 10:48 a.m. ― 8 months ago

Let's face it... it is not only a San Diego phenomena, but national as well, that if you are gay and not in lock step with the Democrat/Left/Progressive/Union cabal, you will be an outcast.

There is little Carl could do to every win over some of these people who would rather have a straight Democrat homophobe than a gay Republican.

As councilman, DeMaio did not represent Hillcrest, but the Hillcrest Gay Mafia, who could never be satisfied with a Republican no matter what, set upon him like a pack of jackals because he wasn't as proactively gay as Todd Gloria... who did represent Hillcrest.

Carl DeMaio wants what we all should want, to be judged by the content of his character and his public record. He can and does defend both very well.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DavidKing'

DavidKing | February 24, 2014 at 10:56 a.m. ― 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

( )

Avatar for user 'DavidKing'

DavidKing | February 24, 2014 at 11:11 a.m. ― 8 months ago

Claire,

You said Sanders "made his statement in support of same-sex marriage in 2007." That's a substantive understatement. It's so far off as to be misleading. He refused to VETO a council act authorizing an amicus brief on the issue to the CA Supreme Court.

Donors, please look at how very well-educated and fair are those KPBS whom employs. Either you need to give much much more...or look to give elsewhere.

David A. King

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Claire Trageser'

Claire Trageser, KPBS Staff | February 24, 2014 at 11:26 a.m. ― 8 months ago

David,

I was referring to Sanders' 2007 press conference where he said he had changed his mind on same-sex marriage: http://www.utsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070920/news_1n20sanders.html. Not sure why that is misleading or uninformed.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 24, 2014 at 11:38 a.m. ― 8 months ago

A purchasing mistake! LOL

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | February 24, 2014 at 11:49 a.m. ― 8 months ago

"To preserve our free societies, we have to defend not just against distant enemies, but against dangerous policies at home. If we allow scarce resources to be squandered on surveillance programs that violate the very rights they purport to defend, we haven't protected our liberty at all: we have paid to lose it." ~Edward Snowden

"We know we cannot impose our values on other countries, but certain values are universal -- they are cherished by people in every nation in the world, including in Asia -- and they are intrinsic to stable, peaceful, and prosperous countries. Human rights are in everyone’s interest. This is a message that the USA delivers every day, in every region. More than our military might, and more than the size of our economy, our most precious asset as a nation is the persuasive power of our values.
U.S. policy has consistently, through Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses, supported the Dalai Lama.
~Then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton (Oct 28, 2010).
Liu Xiaobo -- that other iconic Nobel laureate remains in a Chinese prison. I join billions of people worldwide in calling for their release and/or safe return home.
I'm voting for Carl DeMaio because Scott Peters voted to increase NSA funding.
The Dalai Lama remains in exile -- as does Edward Snowden.
The only thing Peters has accomplished was.... on the day before his swearing in the average net worth of members of the House was under $1 million. The following day it was over $2 million.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 24, 2014 at 11:50 a.m. ― 8 months ago

I"It's a civil rights issue not a social issue." In other words, De Mayo isn't militant enough, DOGMATIC ENOUGH for Rodriguez-Kennedy. Period.

The intellectual dishonesty is unbelievable!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | February 24, 2014 at 12:43 p.m. ― 8 months ago

Hate the political party, not the politician.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DavidKing'

DavidKing | February 24, 2014 at 1:37 p.m. ― 8 months ago

Claire,

The fact that you can't appreciate the difference between making a "statement" (a press conference) and "declining to veto" (a legally effective inaction by the executive of a municipal corporation) is the reason I say you're very much misleading and painfully uninformed.

Sanders took legal action to support the case before the CA Supreme Court. Not a pep rally.

FDR gave a great speech on Dec. 7, 1941 to a joint session of Congress following the Pearl Harbor attack. The Declaration of War passed by Congress on Dec. 8 was different.

Kindest regards,

David A. King

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 24, 2014 at 1:56 p.m. ― 8 months ago

Mr. DeMaio is a political opportunist, nothing more and nothing less.

The ONLY reason this man put out this ad is because he and his political cronies made a calculated decision that such an ad would help him politically.

He is NOT doing it because he cares so much about equality nor because he is taking a courageous stand, he's doing it because he wants our votes.

He will never receive my vote.

Where was he in when DOMA was signed or when the struggle for marriage equality was going on? He was palling around with right wing blowhards like Newton Gingrich.

DeMaio is poison to the gay community. He will, if elected, be an embarrassment.

While I agree with him there is a double standard in the way straight politicians appear in advertisements with their family, his timing on doing this proves he is doing it for political gain and nothing else.

Shame on this terrible political hack.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'skypanther'

skypanther | February 24, 2014 at 2:28 p.m. ― 8 months ago

I would not vote for DeMaio because he is a republican. Has nothing to do with him being gay.

That being said, being gay and republican is funny to me. It seems that they care more about money, than civil rights. The leader of GOProud, a republican group that is much more conservative than the LCR, has changed parties to independent and left the group.

http://swampland.time.com/2014/01/15/jimmy-lasalvia-founder-of-goproud-leaves-republican-party/

Saying that the republican party as a whole does not stand up to bigotry within its own ranks and members.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'willrk787'

willrk787 | February 24, 2014 at 2:53 p.m. ― 8 months ago

Poor DavidKing, it's unfortunate he decided to lie on this post.

1. I quit the No on D campaign. This was shortly after Carl DeMaio asked me and his council Chief of Staff to spy on Nathan Fletcher and shortly after a fairly difficult operation I ran to dispense the No on D signs. Citybeat gave the result of that operation praise because by their count there were three No on D signs to every 1 Yes on D sign they saw.

I have the email to prove that, as well as the email in which Carl DeMaio thanks me for my service.

2. Carl DeMaio asked me to serve on his campaign team in December of 2010. You typically don't include people you fire in on the ground floor of your mayoral campaign operation in fact you usually put the best people you can on your core team. I said no.

I have the email to prove that as well.

Let me know David if you would like to have the forward to you. Until then I suggest you remove that libelous comment.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DavidKing'

DavidKing | February 24, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. ― 8 months ago

Libelous, word that's a big word.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 24, 2014 at 6:05 p.m. ― 8 months ago

Richard thompson: ""We know we cannot impose our values on other countries, but certain values are universal -- they are cherished by people in every nation in the world, including in Asia -- and they are intrinsic to stable, peaceful, and prosperous countries. Human rights are in everyone’s interest. This is a message that the USA delivers every day, in every region. More than our military might, and more than the size of our economy, our most precious asset as a nation is the persuasive power of our values.
U.S. policy has consistently, through Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses, supported the Dalai Lama.
~Then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton (Oct 28, 2010).

Yes, words from the wife of the ex-President who CONTINUED the genocidal Sanctions Regime.. And the foolish Dems want her to succeed Obama!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'johnathanhale'

johnathanhale | February 24, 2014 at 7:04 p.m. ― 8 months ago

I think Claire did a good job balancing different views. I am surprised that she chose Mr. Kennedy as her source for this article. At one point he said that it would be hard for some from the LGBT community to change their opinion of Carl because it matters what you do in office. What is most puzzling by that remark is that he was an avid Nathan Fletcher supporter, and Fletcher actually voted against issues of importance to the LGBT community, such as Harvey Milk Day & recognizing out of state same sex marriages. Carl on the other hand, had the same voting record as Todd Gloria on LGBT issues when he served on the council. I would suggest looking beyond the loudest voices in our community when discussing issues such as this. They don't always speak for all of us.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'GuidoS'

GuidoS | February 24, 2014 at 9:14 p.m. ― 8 months ago

Ridiculous typical conservative bullying tactics by venture capital WStreeter, smear the messenger Ms Tregeser did a great job! How did worldnetdaily wannabe SDNR get 501c3 status? hypocrisy much?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'GuidoS'

GuidoS | February 24, 2014 at 9:23 p.m. ― 8 months ago

Yes It takes great courage for a politician to support gay rights in San Diego lol

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DavidKing'

DavidKing | February 24, 2014 at 11:10 p.m. ― 8 months ago

Upon another, slower read, this shows some thorough work, and upon further review, Miss Claire is one of the grooviest ladies in the house!!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | February 25, 2014 at 9:42 a.m. ― 8 months ago

missionaccomplished~ I think Hillary is trigger happy -- and I support John Kerry for President. And Caroline Kennedy for Secretary of State (but that is for Kerry, should he be elected, to say). Dante converses with two Florentine sodomites from different groups: Brunetto Latini, a poet; and Iacopo Rusticucci, a politician (Cantos XIV through XVI, Inferno). Dante had the luxury of assigning his friends and enemies to very particular circumstances; reformed sodomites ended up on Mount Purgatory. The JFK (and MLK Jr) quote(s) attributed to Dante in the comments above have something vaguely to do with those who were only for themselves -- during times like these -- which the Chinese would call "interesting." I signed a petition urging DeMaio to get with his fellow Council members in the Arizona hate campaign ("... but it's a dry hate"). I quoted Hillary because she was referenced the favorable treatment the Dalai Lama received from both major parties. But Edward Snowden was the secret hero of what I was saying. Dante was right in assigning Brutus and Cassius to the inner most circle of hell, well, he believed Italy had suffered as a result of their assassination of Caesar. I'd assign both Snowden and the Dalai Lama to heaven. Save the Whales. And vote DeMaio because he'd vote against the further funding of the National Security Administration.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | February 26, 2014 at 8:35 a.m. ― 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Homosexuality is not a civil rights issue. Gays are afforded the same civil rights as every other person in this country.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'willrk787'

willrk787 | March 3, 2014 at 12:34 p.m. ― 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I am sorry JeanMarc but that statement is rather ignorant of reality.

29 states in the United States can fire you based on your sexual orientation.
18 states allow for discrimination against people based on sexual orientation for reasons of employment by both the state and private employers.
10 more states allow for discrimination against people based on sexual orientation for reasons of employment by private employers.
29 states allow for discrimination on the based on sexual orientation for the purposes of housing.
37 states do not have marriage equality.

It gets a bit more hazy when you try and figure out where people can be refused service but for the most part, minus the 15-20 states which have municipalities and state governments who rule out that form of discrimination, it is legal.

Interracial marriage was litigated in the civil rights movement.
Refusal of service by private business was litigated in the civil rights movement.
Employment discrimination was litigated in the civil rights movement .
Housing discrimination was litigated in the civil rights movement.

These are all generally considered civil rights issues at least on the basis of race and gender but apparently for some they are not considered civil rights for LGBT citizens.

Either way, the statement "Gays are afforded the same civil rights as every other person in this country" is categorically false.

( | suggest removal )