Friday, August 26, 2011

SB 48: THE Epic Struggle for Queer Rights in California

Equality California Director Warns About Upcoming Referendum


Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

PHOTOS, top to bottom: Roland Palencia, Kevin Beiser

“This is the greatest threat in years to LGBT [Queer] Californians,” Roland Palencia, executive director of Equality California, warned the predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club at their August 25 meeting. The great threat he and two other speakers — EQCA’s regional field director, George Zander; and Kevin Beiser, openly Queer member of the board of the San Diego Unified School District — were there to mobilize against is the radical Right’s referendum campaign to repeal SB 48. Also known as the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, Respectful) Education Act, and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown July 14, SB 48 requires California public middle and high schools to teach “a study of the role and contributions of Pacific Islanders … Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and other ethnic and cultural groups” in social-science classes.

It might not seem like much of a change from previous law — which contained similar requirements to teach the role and contributions of “Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, … [and] European Americans” — but a coalition of radical-Right activists similar to the ones that successfully pushed through Proposition 8, banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage in California, are aiming to get the repeal of SB 48 on the June 6, 2012 ballot. Palencia and Zander, EQCA’s regional field manager for the Palm Springs area and a former San Diegan, came to the club to warn of the consequences for the Queer community if SB 48 is repealed by California’s voters — and to present the coalition they’re organizing to defend the law at the ballot box.

SB 48 “is about historical accuracy, and our enemies are portraying this as ‘the homosexual agenda’ and saying this is what will turn kids Gay,” Palencia warned. “It’s not going to be a referendum on the merits of whether we have contributed. It’s going to be a referendum on the entire Gay community. They’re going to use this as a platform to demonize and marginalize our community. No matter what the issue is — marriage equality, employment rights, fairness, education, safe schools — they always go back to their core issue: that it’s a threat to families and children. We’re going to have to address it head on and deal with it very directly.”

According to Palencia, the campaign to repeal SB 48 will be based on the radical Right’s tried and true stereotypes about Queers: “that we are haters, we have a homosexual agenda, and we want to make everybody Gay and teach about sex.” His coalition plans to answer with the argument that it’s people with anti-Queer prejudice, not Queers, that threaten children and families. “Discrimination and creating a hostile environment in school is dangerous,” he said, adding that one reason Queer adolescents are at higher risk for alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide than non-Queers is “the pressures on Gay students” from bullies, who often feel inspired and reinforced by anti-Queer ballot campaigns like the one which passed Proposition 8 and the one likely to be waged against SB 48.

Beiser, who stayed behind and fielded questions after Palencia had to leave for another meeting, said he was wearing “two different hats.” As a school board member, he said, he has to get ready to implement SB 48 by “making information available to history teachers” so they themselves can learn about the contributions of Queer Americans and then be able to teach it to their students. He also spoke as a Queer educator, saying that there’s nothing new about radical-Right attempts to write school curricula to eliminate the historical and social contributions of groups they don’t like.

“In the 1980’s, when the state started adding Martin Luther King and the [African-American] civil rights movement, they fought back against it and wanted to keep that information away from students,” Beiser recalled. He stressed that the campaign to protect SB 48 must stress that all the law requires is that students receive “age-appropriate, factual instruction,” and cited a 2003 study, “Safe Place to Learn: Preventing School Harassment,” by the California Safe Schools Association [available at] that argued that teaching the sorts of lessons mandated by SB 48 can actually keep Queer middle-school and high-school students from being bullied and make them feel more secure.

“School climate is improved, students feel safer, students hear fewer slurs and less name-calling, and harassment is less frequent when students report that they have heard about LGBT issues at school,” the “Safe Place to Learn” report said. “For example, 67 percent of students who have learned about LGBT issues at school said their school is safe for LGBT students, compared to 40 percent of students who have not learned about LGBT issues at school. … Students who have learned about LGBT issues at school were also more likely to feel they have a voice at school and make positive contributions to school.”

Asked how the opposition is working to get the repeal of SB 48 on the ballot, Palencia said, “They’re focusing on their network of churches. They have to collect 500,000 valid signatures by October 12, so they’re probably shooting for 650,000 to 700,000 for a margin of error. We have spotted signature gatherers in Temecula and Amador County, but we don’t know if they’re being paid. They may be confident enough that they can raise the signatures through their churches, but if they need to go with paid signature gatherers, a $1 million budget would be enough to get it on the ballot.”

“Right now, we’re also contacting our base,” said Zander, who took over as Equality California’s spokesperson after Palencia left the meeting — he had another speaking engagement during his whirlwind San Diego visit. Zander explained that a decline-to-sign campaign, aimed at targeting signature gatherers and getting people they approach not to sign the petition, “is possible,” but only if the anti-SB 48 side stops relying on volunteers at churches and starts paying people to gather signatures. They’ve set up a hotline for people to call, 1-(877) 440-9585, to report any sightings of people circulating the anti-SB 48 petition.

Questions from the audience focused on whether Equality California would make the same mistakes a lot of people thought they did in the Proposition 8 campaign — particularly in making straight people the public faces of the campaign and pushing Queers into the closet in their own civil-rights struggle — and whether the group, whose expertise is as a lobbying organization, is the right one for the very different task of running an election campaign. Also, at least two people — one of them both blind and Queer — urged the campaign to focus on the disability community because repeal of SB 48 will sanction educational discrimination against them as well as against Queers.

Palencia conceded that Equality California doesn’t have the expertise to run a ballot campaign but said that the “regionally based structure, focused on experience” they’re creating to fight the repeal will draw in people who know how to run campaigns. As for whether Queer people will be relegated to the background of the campaign, Palencia said, “This is going to be a referendum on our community. We really have to be front and center as to who we are and what our values are.” Elsewhere during the meeting, though, he and Zander boasted that most of the current coalition-building efforts are focused on non-Queers.

According to both Palencia and Zander, they are involving disability groups in the campaign from the get-go. “We learned so much from the past,” Zander said. “The organization we have helped create is mostly straight. [The disability issue] is clearly part of it. What we’re talking about now is organizing. It includes the disability and Pacific Islander communities. This campaign is not Gay-based. We’re here [at the San Diego Democratic Club] because you’re the organizers and we need you now in San Diego.”

“If I were to message a series of ads right now, I’d say the opposition hates the LGBT community so much they’re willing to hurt the disability and Pacific Islander communities,” said former San Diego Democratic Club president Craig Roberts. “They’re going to try to make this about our community, and it’s not just about our community. That actually adds to our viewpoint that non-Gays could benefit us by reminding the voters that this isn’t just about the LGBT community. It’s about the disability community and the Pacific Islander community also.”

Another audience member asked what outreach they’re doing to the African-American and Latino communities — who voted for Proposition 8 in higher percentages than whites or Asians, largely because of the power and influence of the churches in their communities. Palencia named the Jordan Rustin Coalition and Latino Equality Alliance as groups they’ve already reached out to, and said they “expect to expand the coalition to non-Gay Black and Latino groups” — but he admitted they don’t yet have the NAACP on board.

Responding to a question from former club president Jeri Dilno about the influence California and Texas, as the two largest purchasers of school textbooks in the U.S., have on the content of the books and what students are taught from them, Beiser explained that at least as far as adopting books is concerned, “in Texas they don’t have separate local school boards. There is one school board, and it’s statewide, so it’s hyper-influential nationwide.” According to Beiser, the Texas board’s war against non-traditional depictions of gender have gone so far that “they wanted to take out pictures of women in souits and put in pictures of women in aprons holding plates of cookies.”

Beiser warned that the public schools will be an ideological battleground for as long as they exist. “There are a lot of groups trying to [use the schools to] control minds,” he said. “The plastics industry is trying to put into textbooks information on how great plastic bags are.” He compared the Queer rights struggle to the efforts of women in Saudi Arabia who are committing civil disobedience by getting into cars and driving, in defiance of a Saudi law making it illegal for women to drive. “Our struggle is for freedom,” Beiser said, “and we have to stand up against censoring anyone, whether it’s Filipinos, disabled people, or LGBT people.”

The San Diego Democratic Club unanimously passed a resolution fully supporting the implementation of SB 48 and urging people “to refuse to sign petitions entitled ‘Referendum to overturn non-discrimination requirements for school instruction’.” At the suggestion of former club president Stephen Whitburn, the resolution also contained a commitment to oppose the referendum should it qualify for the June 6, 2012 ballot — meaning that the club will have to urge its members and supporters to vote yes to keep SB 48 in place.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tea Party America and How to Fight It


Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

If there was any doubt before the debt-ceiling debacle in Washington, D.C. throughout July that the radical Right in general and the Tea Party in particular has achieved dominance over American politics, there’s no room for doubt anymore. Thanks to the Tea Party — and to its high-powered propagandists on talk radio and Fox News — the U.S., which remains mired in an economic crisis that is putting (and keeping) millions out of work, has committed to a policy of massive budget cutbacks at all levels of government that will suck so much demand out of the economy, it will convert the nagging recession into a full-blown depression. And the Tea Party will massively benefit from that depression, because it’s sold the American people on the idea that the remedy for what ails the U.S. economy is more of the same: more cutbacks, more austerity, less money in ordinary people’s pockets and more in the hands of wealthy individuals and corporations, who judging from what they’re doing with it now are likely either to squirrel it away in their bank accounts as cash reserves or invest it in other countries.

The triumph of the Tea Party is just the culmination of a long campaign on the part of the radical Right that has, with occasional interruptions, moved steadily from success to success. The modern-day U.S. Right began in the 1930’s as a counter-movement to the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt and a well-organized American Left that pushed FDR and the Democrats of his time much farther than they were initially prepared to go. It survived the disgrace of its initial leaders, most of whom either tried to keep the U.S. out of World War II or openly sided with America’s enemies, Nazi Germany and Japan. It achieved its first triumph when it got enough people scared about alleged “Communist infiltration” of U.S. government, business and entertainment to spark a huge purge of the Left from American public life — the second of three massive attacks on the Left (in the late teens/early 1920’s, the late 1940’s/early 1950’s, and the late 1960’s/early 1970’s) that have relegated the U.S. Left to a tiny, uninfluential sliver of the American body politic.

What became the Tea Party survived the disgrace of its first major elected official, U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin), in 1954. It survived the overwhelming defeat of its first Presidential nominee, Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona), in 1964. It had its first nationwide electoral triumph when, in 1968, it exploited the anxieties of many members of the white working class over race and culture to swing America’s classic proletariat more or less decisively from the Democratic to the Republican party. It also used the Democrats’ support of the landmark civil-rights legislation of 1964 and 1965 to “break” the so-called “solid South” at long last and turn it over time from almost totally Democratic in national elections to reliably Republican. The result was that in the 1968 Presidential election, Republican Richard Nixon and Right-wing independent George Wallace got 57 percent of the vote between them, to Democrat Hubert Humphrey’s 43 percent: the birth of the Right-wing majority that has dominated American politics ever since.

Since 1968, the Republicans have taken the presidency seven out of 11 times. But even when they’ve elected Democrats to the presidency and Congress, the American people have got Republican policies. It was Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Congresses of his four years in the White House that first started the deregulatory frenzy that led to the collapse of the financial system in 2008 and the economic crisis that plagues us still. It was Bill Clinton who destroyed the government guarantee of support for families with dependent children and signed into law such attacks on the Queer community as the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the “Defense of Marriage Act.” And it was Barack Obama who began the evisceration of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid by offering his so-called “grand deal” to the Republicans to slash those programs in exchange for minimal tax increases — which the Republicans promptly threw back in his face, knowing that by holding strong they could get the destruction of the social safety net without having to give in on taxes.

This does not mean, as a lot of U.S. Leftists assume, that we should give up on electoral politics in general or the Democratic Party in particular. Quite the contrary: we need to emulate the success of the Tea Party and organize in the electoral and non-electoral realms simultaneously. It also means we should forget about so-called “third parties,” which in a winner-take-all system like ours are a meaningless and counterproductive distraction. We should have no hesitation about “primary-ing” Democrats who fall short of progressive ideals, but at the same time we should vote for any Democrat over any Republican because in this historical era, the Democrats represent what Noam Chomsky has called “the reality-based wing of the ruling class” and it is a short-term necessity to keep them in power and the Tea Party crazies at bay.

At the same time, we need not only to “organize” — the all-purpose word thrown about by Leftists who see the predicament we’re in but have only the barest of hints as to what we ought to do about it — but to reach out to the growing number of victims of Tea Party politics and economics and do what we can to help them directly. At the last Activist San Diego meeting Congressmember Bob Filner talked about organizing a demonstration to stop one woman from losing her house to a legally dubious foreclosure — and at the end, when at least for that day she got to stay in her home, the 200 people he’d brought out asked, “When are we going to do this again?” We have to keep doing it again … and again … and again, until there are enough people out there we’ve helped that there’s a critical mass ready to listen to what we have to say.

What’s left of the U.S. Left needs to realize, first of all, that we’ve “hit bottom.” That’s where recovery from alcoholism or drug abuse starts, and it’s where our recovery from our political meaninglessness and obsolescence needs to start. We need to realize that our ideas have been so thoroughly rejected by the majority of Americans that, when Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his candidacy for President, he actually said that it is “an injustice” that nearly half of all Americans pay no federal income tax, and that a progressive tax system “punishes success while setting America on a course for greater dependency on government.” It’s one thing for a Republican politician to believe that, and to govern that way; but Perry is so convinced a majority of the American people agree with him that he said it out loud and used it as a selling point for his campaign.

We also need to break ourselves of a lot of bad habits we’ve acquired during our years of powerlessness. First, we need to stop hating America. I remember an argument I had with an activist from the International Action Center who defended his group’s railing against the U.S. for having built its civilization on the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of African-Americans. I tried to convince him — futilely — that this was defensible analysis but rotten politics. Given a choice between a Right that tells the American people that their history as a nation should be a source of pride and a Left that tells them it should be a source of shame, it’s no wonder millions of Americans have chosen the Right. Ironically, the first modern use of the phrase “Tea Party” was by the Left — by an organization that formed in 1970 to encourage tax resistance as a protest against the Viet Nam war — but we’ve let the Right co-opt it, and virtually all of American history besides.

We also need to purge the words “consensus decision-making” from our vocabulary and put them on the scrap heap of dead language where they belong. Our compulsion for “internal democracy” — for delaying and delaying and delaying every decision until we’ve anticipated every conceivable objection, rational or otherwise, and trying to reach agreement among everybody at the table — has rendered us totally paralyzed, unable to realize opportunities even when we’ve worked hard to open the door for them. As much as I hate Vladimir Lenin for founding the Soviet Union and thereby inexorably and permanently associating the very concept of “socialism” with dictatorship and brutality, there’s no getting around that he was a master tactician, probably the best the Left has ever produced.

The Right understands Lenin’s tactical genius — Rupert Murdoch had a picture of him on his dorm-room wall in college — and we need to re-learn it ourselves. In particular we need to revive his concept of “democratic centralism,” which imposed order, structure and discipline on Leftist organizing. There’s a reason the only socialist revolutions that ever succeeded were organized on Lenin’s principles; without them — and especially without “democratic centralism,” which means that once the majority makes a decision, everybody carries it out without question or further debate, and our internal disagreements are kept behind closed doors while we present a unified phalanx of thought, word and deed to the public — there’s no way a Leftist movement can overcome the overwhelming advantages of money, power and media available to the Right.

Filner, Gonzalez Headline Discussion on Debt Ceiling

Activist Meeting Focuses on How the Right Won the War of Ideas


Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

left to right: Lorena Gonzalez, Floyd Morrow, Corinne Wilson, Dr. Jeff Gordon, and Congressmember Bob Filner at Activist San Diego August 15, 2011.

“Where did we go wrong?” said San Diego-Imperial Counties Central Labor Council secretary-treasurer Lorena Gonzalez at the start of Activist San Diego’s August 15 discussion of the debt-ceiling crisis in Washington and what severe cutbacks in government spending are likely to do to the economy. Lamenting the way the Right in San Diego has successfully been able to demonize organized labor as “an outside force” responsible for all the city’s economic woes, Gonzalez said, “A lot of it is our inability to reach out to people who once understood our movement and what it stood for.”

Bob Filner, who’s ending his 20-year tenure in Congress to run for Mayor of San Diego in 2012, was similarly self-critical. “I’ve never seen anything like the stupidity on their side — or the unwillingness of our side to confront them in a way that would make sense to the American people,” he said. “We went into this [debt-ceiling] debate, and for some reason we ceded the playing field to the other side at the beginning.”

Filner criticized President Obama for not demanding a rise in the debt ceiling last December as a condition for extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich, and also for refusing to invoke the 14th Amendment to the Constitution as giving him the power to pay America’s debts whether Congress raised the debt ceiling or not. “We ceded them the complete playing field,” he said.

According to Filner, the slogan he wanted the Democrats in the House of Representatives to use was one that would tie the debt-ceiling crisis directly into America’s three budget-busting wars in Muslim countries: Afghanistan and Iraq, which Obama inherited from Bush; and Libya, which he got us into himself without even asking for the fig leaf of a Congressional resolution. “It was, ‘End the debt — end the wars,’” Filner recalled. “But because we had a President who didn’t agree on this, the [Democratic House] leadership didn’t pick it up.”

Though the ostensible topic of the meeting was the debt ceiling debate, which ended August 2 with a deadline deal and the subsequent downgrading of America’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s, most of the comments addressed a broader sense of crisis in the country and a desperate search for strategies that will put progressive and Leftist perspectives back into the public debate. Activist San Diego’s recently elected board president, long-time activist Jeeni Criscenzo, wanted to focus the debate around Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine, which holds that capitalist ruling classes deliberately foment crises like the debt-ceiling debate to scare people and keep them from challenging the ruling class’s power, but no one but Criscenzo herself cited Klein’s analysis.

Instead, the speakers — Filner, Gonzalez, former San Diego City Councilmember Floyd Morrow, Corinne Wilson of the Center on Policy Initiatives, and single-payer health advocate Dr. Jeff Gordon — talked primarily on what the Right has done to win the debate over economic and social policy in the U.S., and what the Left has to do to get back in the game. Gonzalez drew a parallel between what the Republican House majority is doing in Washington, D.C. and what Republican politicians and their media handmaidens have already done in San Diego to demonize organized labor.

“What we’ve heard in San Diego for years is now going on in Washington,” Gonzalez said. “The other side is good at identifying a common enemy. We progressives don’t like to speak in ‘war’ terms. We try to bring people together.” In contrast, she argued, the Right seeks scapegoats so that people blame all their problems on those below them in wealth and income, not those above — and in San Diego in 2011, that’s organized labor in general, and specifically public-employee unions.

“Everything wrong in San Diego is [supposedly] due to the trash collectors who take home $27,000 per year pensions with no Social Security,” Gonzalez said. “They’ve become the poster children for why you can’t get your potholes fixed.” Gonzalez also noted that unions couldn’t blame the real culprits — the politicians who voted increased pension benefits for workers without any way to pay for them, and the developers and other corporate rich whose mega-projects were built with the money siphoned off from workers’ pensions — because the politicians are also the people they have to negotiate with for their workers’ wages and benefits.

Instead, she said, “we kind of hunkered down and said we’re not going to point fingers at the bosses.” What’s more, she added, “We defended things that should never have been defended” — the giant pensions that went to city administrators and elected officials — “and now our blue-collar and white-collar workers may lose their pensions and retirement security” in part because of the labor movement’s strategic mistakes in responding to the Right’s challenge.

Gonzalez also argued that the Republican agenda of ceaseless public budget-cutting will make the economy worse, not better. “Virtually every economist will say the only way we’re going to get out of this recession is to spend money,” she explained. “Instead, we have cut back, especially in the public sector. Private-sector jobs have crept up, but the cuts in the public sector have kept unemployment high. These [budget-cutting] discussions will not only affect the programs they cut, but people’s jobs as well.”

Another reason the Right has essentially taken over the national agenda, Gonzalez said, is that they’re a lot better than the Left at holding their elected officials accountable. “We tend to look at elections like a tournament,” Gonzalez said — using a sports metaphor in a room so unrepresentative of the American majority that few people there follow professional sports. “Election day is just drafting, the day you complete your team. If you put together your team and then walk away, you start losing.”

Filner, who has held elective office virtually continuously since the 1970’s, agreed that the Left needs to do a much better job of making sure the politicians they help elect actually do what they’ve promised. “It’s your job to keep us honest,” he said. “When John F. Kennedy came in, he was not as liberal as Obama. He was not interested in civil rights. We got in the streets and forced him to be interested in civil rights. I got on a bus to Jackson, Mississippi and spent several months in the state penitentiary, but we got rid of the whole structure of segregation. We have to do the same thing today.”

According to Filner, there are actually more abuses that should be challenged by direct action today than there were in the 1960’s. One of them, he explained, is foreclosure. “I think the foreclosures are illegal,” he said. “We gave the banks billions” — someone in the audience interrupted and said, “Trillions!” — “and people feel so powerless they just drop the keys behind and leave.” He recalled a demonstration he organized to keep a woman in his Congressional district from being foreclosed on, that drew 200 people and led the county sheriff and the bank to decide to let her stay.

“I saw a sense that we could change things,” he said. “There wasn’t that sense of powerlessness. The sheriff and the banks would be back, but that day we won, and people were saying, ‘When are we going to do this again?’”

Corinne Wilson, whose job title at the Center on Policy Initiatives is a real mouthful — “research and policy lead/construction campaigns director” — presented her organization’s recently released report on foreclosures. Available through their Web site,, the report estimated that 56,689 foreclosures will happen in San Diego between 2008 and 2012 and they will cost property owners, even if they’re not foreclosed on themselves, a total of $19.2 billion in home values. What’s more, the state and city will lose $117 million in property taxes, both from the foreclosed homes themselves and the loss of value by their non-foreclosed neighbors, and the total cost to local government of the foreclosure crisis — both in lost tax revenues and additional city services, including putting out fires in foreclosed homes — will be between $134 million and $855 million.

How does that happen? Wilson cited statistics that “if there’s one foreclosed home that stands vacant, it negatively impacts all home values within one-eighth mile from it. … Just as we released the report, a foreclosed home caught fire and damaged the homes around it. That comes out of our municipal budget. Our local budget crisis is also a foreclosure crisis, and thanks to Proposition 13” — which requires property taxes to go down if a property’s assessed valuation goes down — “it will impact for decades our ability to raise money for public services.”

Former Councilmember Morrow reminisced about his boyhood in the 1930’s — “I was born in a tent with a dirt floor” — and his long history of progressive activism, including organizing for the Kennedy for President campaign in 1960. As an early victim of the radical Right — after three terms on the San Diego City Council he was defeated for re-election in 1977 when he was Queer-baited by a so-called “Christian” publication called The Church News — Morrow spoke with authority on how the ascendancy of the Right has coarsened American politics.

“There’s no place in our politics for the intemperate, hateful politics of Koch [Charles and David Koch, the ultra-Right industrialists who have largely funded the Tea Party],” Morrow said. “The only traction the Tea Party has is Sarah Palin lucked into being governor of Alaska — where they collect the social dividends from their natural resources and every citizen receives tax revenue from the oil companies. We need Social Security, health and education. If you think education isn’t worth it, try ignorance. Without education, you have the new barbarians.”

Dr. Gordon, who was slated to talk about health care, spoke instead about the growing levels of economic inequality in the U.S. and how the destruction of the middle class is threatening to create permanent unrest and spark the kinds of street riots recently seen in Great Britain. In comments that led two audience members to denounce him as racist, he said, “I worked in Black communities in the 1960’s, and they were functional communities, but when the Blacks lost their jobs [through the de-industrialization of cities like Detroit and Indianapolis], those communities fell apart and the ‘ghetto culture’ was foisted on them by the loss of their jobs.”

According to Dr. Gordon, the destruction de-industrialization has wrought on the African-American community is coming to the white population as well, as the Right’s economic policies relentlessly attack the middle class and leave America with a handful of wealthy people at the top and a huge number of people with little or no income — and little or no chance for advancement — at the bottom.

“Young men who don’t have jobs — what do they do?” he said. “Ask the people in England. It’s been a year since [the British government] went on an austerity program, including the devastation of social services. What are those people going to do? You’re already starting to hear about ‘flash mobs’ and rioting and curfews in places like Minneapolis. If we don’t organize and fight back, we’re going to be hit hard when we hit bottom.”

Media Arts Center Hosts “Radio Summer” Aug. 29

Event Brings Together Community to Create Progressive Radio


Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

There are plenty of stations on the San Diego radio dial you can tune into for political commentary, but absolutely no diversity as to its content. All you’re going to get are the Right-wing Republican and Tea Party propagandists whose nationwide exposure has made the phrase “Right-wing talk radio” seem redundant. But thanks to a recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implementing the Local Community Radio Act, passed in Congress and signed into law by President Obama in January, more and different political and cultural voices may be heard on America’s airwaves. Locally, the Media Arts Center of San Diego is hosting a “Radio Summer” event Monday, August 29, 6 to 8 p.m. at their North Park office, 2921 El Cajon Boulevard (near 30th Street), to work on getting up to four new low-power FM stations licensed in San Diego and encourage nonprofit organizations to apply.

“Radio Summer” is actually a nationwide campaign sponsored by the Prometheus Radio Project, a Philadelphia-based organization whose slogan is “Freeing the Airwaves from Corporate Control.” Prometheus lobbied for the Local Community Radio Act for years and finally got it through Congress, and now they’re scheduling this and similar meetings throughout the country to make sure community organizations actually take advantage of the Act. Low-power FM stations actually existed before, but they were restricted to rural areas. Now, urban activists and community organizers can apply for low-power signals as well.

“Today, we start the countdown on the return of local voices to the radio waves, as low-power radio stations will finally be given space to broadcast in large urban markets,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon G. Clyburn when the FCC issued its low-power regulations in July. “Already we see amazing rural stations run by farm workers, schools and churches in rural Florida, Oregon, and the Carolinas, and we’ve heard of interest from the Chicago public-school system, from workers in Baltimore, and from music groups in San Antonio. In New Orleans, local groups want to rebuild their city and connect with their neighbors, and in Miami, health educators in the Haitian community want another outlet to serve their city.”

“‘Radio Summer’ is about folks getting organized in communities where low-power frequencies are expected to open up next summer,” said Kelly Barnes, general manager of the Activist San Diego (ASD) Radio Project and former staff member with the progressive nonprofit station KPFK-FM in Los Angeles. “The FCC has signaled their intention to open up an application process that could take as long as two years, but by Prometheus’s best data, they believe that as many as four frequencies will be opening up in San Diego for applications next summer.”

The August 29 “Radio Summer” meeting in San Diego is being sponsored by the Media Arts Center, Prometheus, ASD, the World Beat Center, New Media Rights and Open Media City Heights. Some of these groups already have radio experience: the World Beat Center’s director, Makeda “Dread” Cheatom, hosted a local reggae show on a major commercial FM station for 25 years, and Open Media City Heights ran a continuous Internet radio stream off their Web site until just recently, when they reorganized as an audio blog. Both the World Beat Center and Media Arts Center are also experienced in audio and video production, and one of Media Arts Center’s purposes is to make production equipment available to nonprofessionals in the community to produce their own media.

ASD is in a peculiar position relative to “Radio Summer” in that they’ve actually got an FCC license — not for low-power but for a full-power station in the Descanso/Julian area. They’ve also got a ticking deadline clock; according to FCC regulations, they must actually start broadcasting at a high enough quality level within three years of when they got the license. The drop-dead deadline to get their station on the air, Barnes explained, is June 29, 2013. According to Barnes, one of the FCC’s rules is that a full-power license holder can’t also apply to run a low-power station — but they can advise and work in coalition with other groups that are eligible.

Barnes is expecting the August 29 meeting to feature presentations from all six sponsoring organizations — including Prometheus, from whom she’s hoping to bring in an electronic presentation from their Philadelphia headquarters. The Media Arts Center will focus on the trainings they offer community media-makers in how to use standard production software like Audacity, Garageband, Photoshop and, for video people, Final Cut Pro. Brian Meyers, who founded Open Media City Heights and now works with the Media Arts Center, will discuss how to get a live streaming station on the Internet as both an alternative medium and preparation for launching a broadcast station.

The New Media Rights presentation will be by attorney Art Neill, discussing what Barnes calls the “permission-based, royalty-free Creative Commons” approach to copyright many alternative media groups are pursuing so they can easily share content without running afoul of giant media corporations and their highly aggressive enforcement of traditional copyrights. “Their mission,” Barnes said of New Media Rights, “is to help groups understand and advocate for new media rights. Their nonprofit model is at our service.”

Barnes said her goal is to see the organizations who participate in “Radio Summer” and who actually apply for and get the low-power licenses to be “judicious stewards of the treasure gathered up for our projects, who will use it wisely.” Her vision of community radio is as “a watering hole where people come and trade skills, and become storytellers. … We’re working on our personal development as well as producing the radio stream.”

For more information on the August 29 “Radio Summer” event, please e-mail Kelly Barnes at or phone her at (619) 528-8383.


Bisexual, Binary and Proud Young Man


Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

“I didn’t come into the world repressed in any way,” said Parker Jaques, one of the six panelists at the Bisexual Forum of San Diego’s event at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center May 12. “I had a very open family. I didn’t have it in my mind that being Bisexual or being Gay was anything abnormal, and it was kind of a shell-shock to realize that not only is this considered abnormal, but you’re just running from normal.”

Jaques wears a knit rainbow-flag scarf and a leather jacket over camouflage pants — the jacket because he rides a motorcycle and the pants because he likes the idea of having pockets on the sides of his legs. It’s hard to believe a man of his generation uses such seemingly antique bits of slang as “dudes” and “chicks” to describe men and women, respectively. He’s active in the First Unitarian-Universalist Church and describes himself as “an unemployed child-care provider” — and as you’ll read below, he’s typically blunt about why he thinks he’s unemployed.

As a Bisexual he sees little or no difference in sexual expression between the genders — with his penchant for salty language, he says, “You rub it, it works” — but a great deal of difference between male and female partners in terms of the overall emotional dynamic of a relationship. “With a relationship with different people, it brings out different parts of me,” Jaques told the Bisexual Forum event. “It’s really not about the physical attraction so much, but it’s about the traits in people and the qualities you can love them for. And truth be told, I’ve been accused of being straight, because I tend to date more women.”

I wanted to interview Parker Jaques because he’s a refreshing change not only from the breast-beating, guilt-ridden coming-out stories I’ve heard too many of over the years — including from previous Zenger’s interviewees — and also because he says what he thinks, without regard to anyone’s notions of political, sexual or gender correctness. He’s particularly withering in his scorn towards anybody who calls themselves “non-binary,” neither male nor female — like our last Zenger’s cover person, Red — and indeed, once we started talking about that it was hard to get him to talk about anything else. So here’s Parker Jaques, unvarnished and compelling.

Zenger’s: The reason I wanted to do an interview with you, why I thought you’d make a good Zenger’s feature, is I’ve done so many interviews with people who had these long, involved breast-beating stories of how they came to accept themselves as Gay, Bi, Trans or whatever, and after I heard you at the Bisexual Forum event, I thought, “Gee, it would be really nice to do a story with someone who didn’t go through all that.”

Parker Jaques: I wondered why you were interviewing me! I came out of the closet, and everyone went, “Hi, Parker.” The reaction was completely counter to what people are led to believe, at least in movies and in what people hear. You always hear about, “My dad beat me up,” “My parents disowned me,” “My friends all threw me out,” “My church threw me out.”

Zenger’s: So why don’t you just start at the beginning, with your family background and how you grew up.

Jaques: My mom has been married twice, but never to my father. My parents were never married. I have this really complicated immediate family, involving divorces, marriages to other people, and then more kids. I have four half-sisters and a half-brother, and then some of my step-parents have had subsequent children, or had children even before. There’s something to the tune of 25 people in my quote-unquote “immediate family,” if you include my mom and the people she was married to, and then the people they’ve been married to, and whatever.

Zenger’s: People use the phrase “blended family,” and yours sounds like a Mixmastered family.

Jaques: And I don’t even live with half these people! Most of them are in other states. I haven’t seen my dad in almost a decade, and I don’t really care to. My first stepmom lives in Louisiana and has had another kid. I like both my stepdads. My first stepdad lives in Las Vegas with his wife and children. The only one of my siblings who actually lives here is my half-sister, and she lives here, there, like I do. We bounce between my grandma’s house and my mom’s house, because my mom’s house is out in the country. We live with my mom and our stepdad, and they’ve been married for 10 years now. They just celebrated their tenth anniversary.

In the beginning I lived with my mom, and at my grandma’s house, initially. Then I tried to make it work out with my father, and it didn’t really go. There was a lot of bouncing around in the early years, and then my mom married my first stepdad and we moved to Las Vegas, and then they got divorced. We moved back, my mom went to college in New Mexico to study ferrier science and became a ferrier — a horseshoer. Now she’s back and she’s been doing fairly well ever since. She got married, we got a new house, and that all came to a head when I moved from elementary school to middle school. So I started middle school with a new stepdad, and then a different house and a different place. We moved to Spring Valley, which is still San Diego, but it’s a very different part of the world.

We had no religion in the house. My first stepdad was Jewish and we did some of the Jewish holiday things, but even at that age, though I knew what we doing and why we were doing it, I never really made the connection that anyone believed in the divine. When I found out in second grade that people really believed that Noah crammed two of every creature into a boat and that the whole world flooded, and all of those other things — up until that point I just thought they were tales. I thought they were stories, just like Mother Goose or anything else, and I didn’t put any stock in them.

I knew Gay couples, and in my mind it was, “Some guys date dudes, some chicks date chicks, a lot of people tend to date the other. It’s just how the world is.” I only understood “gay” as a synonym for “stupid” until I was about 12. I didn’t actually put the word to what homosexuality meant, because it was just a thing that was there. There wasn’t anything good, bad or anything about it. It was just a thing that existed.

I wasn’t like a lot of other Queer kids in school. I didn’t get beaten up. I broke a lot of people up. I hurt a lot of bullies, and it was my mom being a very staunch supporter of self-defense, and the school generally being scared crapless of her, that allowed me to get away with a lot. A kid would take a swing at me and call me a “faggot,” and I’d put him on the ground. I wasn’t ostracized and stepped on or beaten up or anything like that.

I’m Bisexual, and I frequently get accused of being straight! At least in the world as I’ve seen it — it’s functionally far easier to date the opposite sex, because the conventions are already there. What society expects of us, what we as people tend to expect of each other, due to the fact that we’re in the same society, it’s all kind of spelled out for you. But in homosexual dating, it’s a lot more personal, at least from where I’m standing.

But it’s also a lot more furtive, cloak-and-dagger, sneaking around the issue. You’ve got to figure out not only is this guy going to be someone I like, but are we going to be compatible in the bedroom later on. And unless you really put in the time to figure that out — which I obviously haven’t — the issues aren’t very clear.

Zenger’s: That’s interesting, because my own reaction has been precisely the opposite. I gravitated towards men at least in part because the rules and codes for approaching women seemed so intimidating, and I felt like I could “read” much better from my own gender the signals of, “Is he attracted to me? Would he be interested? Would we get along, sexually and otherwise?”

Jaques: It’s also because, from the time I was about 7, when we moved back in with my grandma — my grandfather died when I was about 9 —that left me in a house with my mom, my grandma and my sister. I was in the estrogen ocean for most of my developing years. I’ve always been a bit effeminate. But I’m effeminate in the way that a tomboy is effeminate, you know? If I was a chick, I’d make a lot more sense to people, but that’s a different story.

I’ve always been kind of the effeminate tough guy, which is funny. Around my Gay friends, I’m the scary one in the room. I’m the intimidating one, the one nobody wants to mess with. When I go hang out with my straight friends, I’m the effeminate one. I’m the wuss in the room. I’m the same way, but it’s read differently. It’s the same set of behaviors, but they’re interpreted very differently by the communities I’m among. Which probably explains why I understand women so well, especially with the Internet and the liberation of young women to a more egalitarian setting.

The conventions around women also seem a lot more mutable. I know I’m probably going to like a girl if I just walk straight through all the lines of decorum and actually talk to her. I’m going to skip all of the movie crap and just going to walk in, guns blazing. I think it also has to do with my age somewhat, because a lot of Gay men I know who are in my age bracket have literally just figured this out. You get a lot of them who are still in such a tormented mental place that they don’t really understand themselves as people, and they’re only coming to an understanding of themselves as sexual beings. I’ve already read that book and put that away. They’re still trying to figure out what page they’re on!

Honestly, it’s also easier to date women, at least for me, because I can walk down a street walking my girlfriend’s hand and nobody’s going to give me shit about it. It doesn’t matter where I am, I can walk that way anywhere. If I’m dating a guy, now I’ve got to look out not only for myself but for him, and we have to be paying attention to what’s going on around us and where we are, and how affectionate we can be to each other based solely on what part of the map we’re on. If we’re walking down the streets of Hillcrest, go right ahead. If we’re walking downtown at night, it’s probably a bad plan.

And even in Hillcrest it’s sometimes a bad plan, although I think we’re on a downswing with the white supremacists. It’s like every five or six years they crop up and start attacking people, and then a few people get arrested and the rest of them duck back.

Zenger’s: There’s been a lot of talk about how young people relate to their sexuality differently than people of my generation or the ones between you and me age-wise. There’s a belief that young people are much less likely to categorize their sexuality and make a decision, “I’m straight,” “I’m Gay,” “I’m Bi.” Do you think that’s true?

Jaques: Honestly, I think it’s a lot of hipster crap. I know a lot of these people who say, “Oh, I’m pansexual,” and the grammar Nazi in me jumps in, with my annoyance at people who do things because they’re popular, and I say, “Look, if you’re pansexual, it means you like everything. Everything.” I know that in some ways they’re saying it to be respectful to the Transgender community, at least after a fashion, and saying they’re “pansexual” means, “I like dudes, I like chicks, I like chicks who were dudes, and I like dudes who were chicks.” But I think “Bisexual” really covers it because there are only two genders, kids. There are only two options on the plate, unless you’re going to go outside, right?

“Pan” is a Greek root. “Pansexuals” — because I get a lot of those — pansexual means everything. So stay away from my goat. And they get mad at me when I tell them that! I say, “You’re the one who’s saying you’re an everything-sexual. I’m just treating you like an everything-sexual.”

Zenger’s: I think what they mean in practice by that is they just want to keep all possibilities open.

Jaques: Honestly, “Bisexual” pretty much covers that. “Bisexual” does not say, “and not Trans people.” A straight man can love a Transsexual woman just in the same way he loves a non-Transsexual woman. Making a specific sexuality for Trans people, to be attracted to or not attracted to Trans people, I think serves only to highlight them further, which is completely counter to what the Transgender community truly wants to do, which is blend in to what they were not born as. So I think it’s counterproductive.

Zenger’s: This will make a very interesting contrast to my last cover story with Red, who said, “I am non-binary.” In Red’s world, there are not two genders; there are all these different genders, and they are neither male nor female, they are in a —

Jaques: Pretentious bullshit. That’s what it is. It’s because people are trying so hard to break away from the gender binary, or the idea of male and female gender roles, instead of accepting that there are two kinds of genitalia, kids. You’ve either got an innie or an outie, and what you do with that is your deal. That’s it. If you have to be so pretentious that you have to have your non-standard gender recognized to feel validated, then you’re doing it wrong. You’re making what your “gender” is more important than the actual function of yourself as a person.

I’m a guy. I take care of kids. I’m a child-care provider. Really, if I wanted to throw my lot in with them, I could say some of that stuff, but it wouldn’t help me. It wouldn’t change the fact that child care is a very sexist field, and it’s sexist against dudes, which means if I call the ACLU and say, “Hey, they gave my job to a woman,” they’ll hang up on me. No, there are two basic genders. You might slide up and down on the Kinsey scale somewhat with your sexuality, or even how you behave in contrast to gender rules. But those multiple-gender things are really trying to turn two opposite ends into a scale, when it’s really not there and it doesn’t need to be.

If you’re a girl who works construction and likes Tonka trucks, that doesn’t change your gender. It doesn’t change your internal gender. Unless you really feel the need to be a man and to be seen as a man, you really don’t need anything more specific than that. And these people who are clamoring for it, it’s like they’re asking for special treatment for a disease that doesn’t exist. They’re trying to be, “I’m unique,” when everyone’s unique. “I’m different, I’m counter.” But it’s not really different. They’re just trying to put a special name on it.

Zenger’s: When I wrote the introduction to my interview with Red, I said they’re a minority within a minority within a minority. Being Queer is a minority, being Transgender is a minority within Queerdom, and being non-binary is a minority within the Trans community.

Jaques: The thing is there are two kinds of philias among humans. There’s gynophilia and androphilia. Androphilia: you like male-looking things. Gynophilia: you like female-looking things. Now, if I point out a very lovely-looking woman who has transitioned from male to female, looking at her I see a woman. My gynophilic impulses are turned on and are addressing her as a woman. The fact that she’s got a dick under there doesn’t change what I’m seeing. It might change how I handle it later, but that’s a purely sexual thing. It doesn’t have anything to do with attraction.

I don’t know why people even need to have these things, why they need to have it be different. Because there isn’t any need. They’re asking for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. “I am a 60/40 guy/girl, but I’m not, because gender isn’t binary. There’s all sorts of genders along this binary line that we clearly understand as people.” It’s so pretentious, it makes me sick. And the thing is, as soon as you tell them they’re wrong or mistaken or just not doing it properly, they start crying about how you’re not respecting them. It irritates me.

No, I’m not letting you try to pull shit. I’m not letting you try to redefine things that don’t need to be redefined, and by trying to redefine them you’re creating a problem that didn’t exist before. Because these people who are, “Oh, I’m not one gender, I’m multiple genders,” I behave differently depending on whether or not I’m in drag. I pull off drag pretty well, though not when I haven’t shaven and I’m all messed up. But I can do that, and I do it from time to time. I go, “I’m going to dress like a woman. I’m going to look like a chick. I’ll do it at this party, and it’s going to be fun.” And I do that.

There are times in relationships, depending on the nature of my partner, when I as a person will kind of gravitate to one more stereotypical gender norm or understanding, at least in the context of relationships, than I normally would. But I think that’s just me being a flexible person, not a gender thing. It’s not about my gender; it’s just about me. I don’t need some special attention or some special thing. I don’t need this special classification. That just is what it is, and that’s all it is.

Zenger’s: You said some interesting things at the Bi Forum meeting, including the role of the Internet in relationships today and how it touches people’s lives. Once again, as someone who’s grown up with it rather than someone who got dragged kicking and screaming into it as a mature adult, how do you feel the Internet has affected the way people interact?

Jaques: In a lot of ways, it’s really killing interpersonal conversation and relations. There are a lot of people who don’t know how to be personal, how to relate to other people in person. People know how to write up a good page, know how to describe themselves wonderfully, know how to have deep intellectual conversations over a keyboard. But they don’t know how to emote as a person unless they can put on some smiley-faces.

I think that it is changing certain things. It is making it so that people who are not necessarily as attractive as their partner have a fair chance of meeting that person and having a relationship with them based solely on the fact that you only see a couple of pictures on a dating site or on Facebook. Then you get to know that person through the content of their posts, through their statements, through what they write, and your correspondence with that person. However, there’s also the down side, where people might look worse than they really are, because they like to put on a certain face on the Internet.

I don’t think it’s really broken anything, but I think it’s changing the paradigm. That, and then there’s trolling. Almost everyone does it at some point. People forget about things they’ve done in the past, and somehow get connected to them later, and then they get questioned about it and they have no recollection. “Oh, I was probably just trolling.” So it’s the way the Internet works that’s crazy.

Zenger’s: You also said a moment ago that the Internet emancipated women. What did you mean by that?

Jaques: I’ll try to remember what I was talking about when I said that!

Zenger’s: It was in the context of why you find it easier to date women than men.

Jaques: Yes, because women now, because they’re on the Internet, because there’s not the face-to-face societal thing about women not being able to be sexual in any way without looking bad, a woman on the Internet can talk about porn, can talk about what really turns her on, what gets her off, what she’s into as a person, because of the Internet. Because we’re not seeing her, we’re just reading what she says, it allows both genders to be honest with themselves in a lot of ways.

Because women are allowed to be honest in a lot of ways, it’s taken away the hot-chick thing, where a really obnoxiously attractive woman winds up the center of everyone’s attention. On the Internet, how attractive you are hardly matters. A lot of women who were quiet and scared in social situations are able to step up and show themselves as the people they truly are on the inside, by showing it on the Internet.

Of course, Facebook is serving to bring all of that back and change that around, because now everyone is on Facebook and everyone has to hide what they do on Facebook. You can only talk about going to bars so many times before everyone labels you an alcoholic. But the rest of the Internet — the non-Facebook internet — continues its inevitable march of causing gender equality to happen spontaneously.

Which I think is a good thing, because if there’s one thing that hurts gender equality in the entire world, it’s the feminists. Not because they’re doing anything wrong ¬— not because I disagree with what they’re doing — but sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense. I love pointing that out to them, and it pisses them off beyond all belief and reason, and it’s hilarious.

Zenger’s: I actually remember saying at a Bisexual Forum meeting that the second-wave feminist movement of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, in a lot of ways, was really a reaction to the sexual revolution. Along with all the good things it had done, the sexual revolution had also given men a very powerful new tool to persuade women to have sex with them, whether they wanted to or not.

Jaques: Exactly.

Zenger’s: “Oh, you’re unhip, you’re uncool, you’re hung up,” you’re this, you’re that. And a large part of this anti-sex streak in that era of feminism seemed to be a reaction to that, an attempt to create a space where women could defend themselves against unwanted advances without risking that “unhip,” “uncool” label.

Jaques: And then at some point in the mid-1980’s we taught an entire generation of girls not to fight rapists. We taught them, “Let it happen, he’s not going to hurt you.” It’s completely not true, but we’ve raised an entire generation of girls who don’t know how to tell a guy to screw off. For example, at Comic-Con this year, the Masquerade Ball, which is the dance after the Masquerade, my friend, who’s a model — and she is very, very attractive — and she was on the dance floor, but she really didn’t want to be because there were guys trying to get all over her.

She’s been raised to be too nice to tell them to just bug off. She’s been raised to be too nice to hit a guy for grinding up on her ass. She’s been raised to be nice, and so she had me act as her foil — which I had to admit was kind of enabling: “Yeah, yeah, this is my girlfriend, go away.” But we’ve raised an entire generation of women to be powerless to men, and we’ve created even more of an animosity dynamic in male-female dating. Which is a problem, but it’s something that the world is working on, slowly but surely.

I think it was Martin Luther King who said that the world is moving towards justice. One way or the other, it’s going to happen.

Zenger’s: Something that is kind of hard to believe now that the Tea Party has totally taken American politics hostage.

Jaques: Oh, my God. I like the fact that John McCain called them out the other day. He actually called them out and said, “Why are you lying to your constituents? You know we cannot force this through. We can’t get this to work. This is dumb.” I gained some respect for him. I lost it, though, when he waffled on the torture bill. A man who’d been tortured as a prisoner of war stopped fighting the torture bill back when Bush was President, mostly because of political stuff, and I lost a whole lot of respect for the man that day.

You know, as bad as it will sound, I respected Strom Thurmond, not because I agreed with anything he did, but because when the chips were down, and he believed something different from what a lot of other people believed, he stood on the Senate floor for 24 straight hours, just to filibuster. And that was a very dangerous political move, because just about everyone else in the house was going, “We need to push this through. This whole civil rights amendment needs to happen.” And he disagreed, he disagreed strongly, and he stuck to it. And if nothing else, I’ll give the man credit. When the chips were down, he stuck to his guns. More power to him. But I might disagree with him strongly.

Zenger’s: I was always impressed by the fact that over his lifetime Barry Goldwater turned around from voting against the Civil Rights Bill to urging that it be amended to include Gays.

Jaques: That’s the thing that quote-unquote “honest” politicians do over time. The problem with conservatism is it’s trying to “conserve” a view of the world that isn’t true. The problem with liberals is they’re trying to push a world-view forward that isn’t what’s actually going on either. It’s like the abortion debate. They’re not really arguing about the same thing. The pro-lifers, the anti-choicers, are saying, “It’s alive. It’s a live thing. You can’t kill it, you murderer.” And the pro-choicers are saying, “But it’s not your choice,” which isn’t even the same argument. They’re not arguing with each other. They’re arguing different points.

It’s the same thing with politics in America these days. They’re not really meeting in the middle. They’re just passing by, like ships in the night, with their statements. Which is why the Presidential debates are always hilarious, because they’re not really arguing. I think Futurama had it best when they had two clones of the same guy running for President, on opposite parties, and that’s what we’re getting down to sooner or later.

Zenger’s: Why are people of your generation not as politically active as their elders, especially their elders when we were your age?

Jaques: The things we have to fight over aren’t as at home as they were in those days. What most of the politically active kids in my age group are interested in is starving children in Africa, or starving kids in China, or workers in China. Almost all of our issues that politically active kids in my age group really latch on to and really want to deal with aren’t domestic. So there really isn’t the same kind of draw.

In the 1960’s, there was a whole civil rights movement. That was a palpable movement, and that was a thing that people were doing. That was big, that was important, and that was at home. We have the Gay rights movement, but it’s been going on for so long now that it doesn’t need us, almost. At least that’s what the perception, the kind of Gestalt perception of my generation, is. You guys are already on it. You’ve already done it. We don’t have a thing to fight.

And Viet Nam was a huge war where there were tons of people dying every day. Even in this total-bullshit “War on Terrorism,” we’ve lost about 5,000 troops, the last I counted. That’s really not that many.

Zenger’s: And, as a lot of people have pointed out, there isn’t a draft.

Jaques: And, as a lot of people have pointed out, there isn’t a draft. So there’s no real point that we as a generation can really latch on to and fight over. It’s become so rounded. There’s really no edge for us to get. There’s no true issue for us to get angry about. There’s the Gay marriage thing, but slowly but surely we’re winning that battle — and it’s really not that big of one. My generation took the homosexuality battle to the trenches of the forums of the Internet, which mean absolutely nothing. It kind of scares me that eventually my generation will start treating the Internet as more important than real life, and what you say on the Internet may one day be more damning to you than what you could say in person.

Zenger’s: Oh, that’s already happened. I’ve had at least two instances where people have e-mailed me saying, “Please take the interview I did with you off your Web site. It is getting in the way of me finding a job.”

Jaques: You know what the biggest thing getting in the way of me finding a job is? Having a penis. Like I said, I’m one of maybe five child-care providers in the known universe who’s also a dude. It’s not like I can call up the ACLU and tell them, “They hired this girl who has a high-school diploma.” I really can’t claim anything, especially because I’m a white male and my whole ancestry is white. I’ve got no one in my corner about anything. I’ve allegedly got the “Establishment” in my corner, so I guess that’s something. Yeah.

It’s not like I’m saying anything to you I wouldn’t say to anyone who actually asked me, anyway. Most people are smart enough not to ask me for my opinion because, damnit, they’ll get it.

Getting Hooked on Being Part of the Marine Family


Copyright © 2011 by Leo E. Laurence, J.D. • All rights reserved

Flying back to San Diego from Washington after attending the formal commissioning of my mentee, Roberto-Ruelas “Tony” Araiza, 29, as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps at nearby Quantico, VA, I was wearing my Marine cover (tan desert cap) and seated in an aisle seat of a U.S. Airways plane as we landed.

As the plane stopped taxiing, pandemonium broke out as passengers grabbed their baggage to deplane.

Suddenly the stewardess announced on the loudspeaker: “We have an active-duty Marine on board.”

Unexpectedly, I was given a standing ovation by everyone on the plane out of respect for the Corps.

“That’s for you,” said a seating companion, herself a Marine though dressed in civvies.

Even going through airport security in Washington, I was personally escorted around the X-Ray security equipment.

Why Cross-Country Trip?

I traveled across the country for the singular privileges of (1) pinning his new gold bars onto his uniform for the first time, and (2) giving him his first salute after being sworn in as a commissioned Marine officer.

After returning my salute, Tony gave me the traditional silver one-dollar coin. It’s dated 1878.

In a Marine’s career, those two honors, pinning and the first salute. rank high up there to the place of a wedding in the lives of lovers.

Here was one of my young mentees becoming one of the proud and one of the few.

“Tony” is one of the hottest-looking young Mexicans you’ll ever meet. He naturally walks straight-back erect and looks sharp in his Marine uniform. He’s a natural-born leader, and in high school selected as team captain of his wrestling team, even without a vote.

As a natural leader, he’s perfect as a Marine officer.

His OCS training/breaking lasted about two months. As a commissioned officer, the Corps is now sending him into basic training at Quantico, where he’ll find his operational specialty, probably in logistics.


I first met Tony in 1997 when he was a champion wrestler as a sophomore at San Diego High School 13 years ago. I was the school’s fitness coach in the S.D.H.S. Caver Fitness Center.

We established a formal mentorship, and I literally became a functional member of his extended family.

“Tony” thinks of me as his dad.

To me, “Tony” is mi hijo (my son).

Actually, with 49 years between us, he’s more like a grandson, but that’s a mere technicality. He’s still my “son.”

“I am who I am because of Leo,” Tony has said to his closest friends and family. He’s straight, married and had a 3-year-old kid; while I’m a very OUT Gay.

He’s strikingly handsome. While he lost some weight in OCS school, his upper-body is more muscular.

I really love him, but like a son, not a Gay lover.

When he turned 18 as an S.D.H.S. senior, he asked me very privately one day to teach him how to shave. Suddenly, I even felt like a real Dad.

When he graduated from college, he gave me a special, school T-shirt that said Dad on the front, with his school’s name (San Diego Christian College).

Becoming a Marine

Having been a Navy combat photographer, I strongly urged him to get a commission in the Navy after he earned his undergraduate degree.

During one of our dozens of confidential, mentorship sessions; he said he’d go Navy if I insisted. Yet, I discovered that he had more of a gung-ho personality, and might fit better as a Marine officer.

After I changed my mind, he excitedly applied for the U.S.M.C. Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA.

I had been a company commander in the Navy’s OCS school in Newport R.I., but learned that the Marine’s training for their officers is much, much tougher both physically and mentally than the Navy.

In just two months of OCS training, the Corps really changed Tony. He lost some of his pretty-boy good looks and in that short time became much more macho.

Day after day, he went through the toughest military training sometimes with only about three hours of sleep a night. While physical fitness and weaponry were important, “Tony” said the biggest part of his academics (60 percent of final grading) was devoted to Marine Corps history as he was turned into a proud Marine officer.

He graduated from OCS and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on Aug. 13 at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia.

I had asked him earlier for the privilege of pinning his gold bars onto his uniform for the first time. He also specifically advised his OCS school that he wanted me to give him his first salute as an officer, a very special honor by a newly commissioned U.S.M.C. officer.

For those two privileges, I flew across the county to be at the Quantico Marine Base for a full weekend.

Tears were literally flooding down my face as I saluted him, and slowly said en EspaƱol, “Muchas gracias para este honor especial.”

With that salute, I became part of the Marine family, according to three-star Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn from the Pentagon, the guest speaker.

Before the commissioning ceremonies began, he was standing around bored and I walked up to him and chatted.

As part of the Marines now, Lt. Gen. Flynn strongly suggested that I serve as a volunteer at a Marine base in San Diego.

Volunteering Locally

The Marines at Miramar processed the mountain of my paperwork as a volunteer applicant, but I’ll be assigned to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

Everywhere I go, if I’m wearing my official, camouflage tan Marine garrison cover (cap), I’m treated with enormous respect. It’s incredible.

As a reporter working a story and wearing my SDPD police press card, I’m accustomed to receiving respect from those I’m covering.

But that is not even close to the respect I’ve been shown while wearing my Marine cover.

For two nights, I went to a small, second-floor Gay bar in Fredericksburg, VA, about 25 miles south of the Quantico U.S.M.C. base where Tony’s OCS school was located.

The first night, I wore a firefighter’s shirt. People in the bar were polite, but largely ignored me.

After “Tony’s” commissioning was over, I wore my tan Marine cover.

I bought my first drink, but all the rest were on the house.

After staff at my hotel discovered my Marine connection, they went overboard to meet my needs … almost.

While spending two, full days roaming the Quantico Marine Base, I noticed that most of the Marines I met were “godawful” cute. And built! I’m looking forward to my volunteer service at MCRD.

You took your Dad as you got him. But somehow I became Tony’s Dad and he became mi hijo (my son) culturally.

He spent most of his time with his little son, wife, sister and brother; but the most important seconds for me were the time when I was pinning his gold bars onto his shirt and jacket, and gave him his first salute.

If I had some small measure in shaping this young man into becoming a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, then our mentorship is successful. Nobody taught me how to be a dad, and certainly I wasn’t close to my real dad. But about six years ago, a close Gay friend/neighbor asked me, “Do you love him?” referring to Tony.

I had to think about that, and realized that I did love him, and as a son, not as a lover.

Even as I write this very intimate report on Tony’s commissioning, tears come into my eyes. Tears of pure pride and love.

Photo captions:

Newly commissioned a U.S.M.C. second lieutenant, Roberto-Ruelas Araiza returns his first salute from his mentor, Leo E. Laurence, J.D., at Quantico, VA on August 13th. Photo by Daniel Araiza.

Leo E. Laurence, J.D. pins the first gold bars onto the Marine uniform of 2nd Lt. Roberto-Ruelas Araiza after his Quantico, VA commissioning. Photo by Daniel Araiza.

Sexy Singing Dominates Wild Gay Men’s Chorus Concert


Copyright © 2011 by Leo E. Laurence, J.D. • All rights reserved

Lots of bare skin and animated singing dominated two, sold-out performances of the huge San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus on July 30-31 at the elegant Balboa Theatre downtown.

Over 150 of the hottest men in town, from pretty-boys to seniors, literally filled the large stage under the baton of veteran conductor Gary Holt.

The chorus is no choir in church. These guys rock! They have the skills of trained, experienced singers and the animated energy of teenagers. They have amazingly dramatic diversity, both in ages and races.

And they are sexy!

The chorus dressed formally in white shirts and ties for the first half, but went totally casual in the second; with one singer in full-face make-up as a witch; and others revealing lots of skin while singing.

The show was called Guy Tunes and promoted as “the best of the boy bands,” largely from the 1950’s through the 1970’s.

The standing-room-only audience literally roared their enthusiasm for the Saturday night show, especially when things got blatantly sexy.

Not only are these guys fabulous singers, they can dance really well too; with precision choreography by Joey Landwehr, easily equal to Vegas singing and dancing.

There was a heavy dose of flagrant sexuality in many of the numbers, especially when guys stepped down from the chorus and danced while they sang.

Gay pride dominated the dancing accompanying many numbers on the very full concert program.

As they sang a number about surfers, some of the guys stripped down to swimsuits off stage and brought down the house in a wild frenzy as they danced as hot surfer boys.

“I’ve never seen so many of the guys get undressed,” conductor Holt said comically between songs.

For some songs, several singers even changed into skin-tight white pants that showed bulging baskets, to the roaring delight of the audience dominated by seniors.

The show closed with the Village People’s very Gay song, “Y-M-C-A.” Like the original Village People, the singers were costumed in everything from a sailor suit to a muscular Native Ameri-can, with full Indian headdress, wearing only a skimpy loincloth showing mostly everything off of his very muscular, slender, smooth, pretty-boy body.

The fantasies his nearly naked body created fit the character of the song “Y-M-C-A.”

In the 1960’s, YMCA’s were notoriously Gay (especially the Embarcadero Y on San Francisco’s waterfront), with young guys roaming the hallways in underwear and horny roomers leaving their doors open to encourage erotic encounters.

In explaining that the Gay Men’s Chorus recently performed with the San Diego Symphony’s Summer Pops concert, conductor Holt humorously noted, “Nobody knows show tunes like the Gays.”

Gay singers can learn about joining the chorus by sending an e-mail to: or calling (877)296-7664. Their Web site is

Photo Captions:

A close-up of an energetic, animated singer in the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus July 31 performance in the elegant Balboa Theatre. Photo by Leo E. Laurence.

Skin and energized, erotic singing dominated the July 31 per-formance of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. Photo by Leo E. Laurence.


By Leo E. Laurence, J.D.

It was a dark and stormy night as I was parking on a side street near downtown headed to a fancy party and dressed to kill.

While I was unbuckling my seat belt, suddenly a scared teenager approached my open, driver’s-side door and pointed a handgun at me. He seemed so nervous, like it might have been his first attempt to rob someone at gunpoint.

“Hand me your money,” he demanded, in a shaky voice, pointing his revolver at my head.

In police training, law-enforcement officers learn that it is extremely important to stay calm when being threatened with a weapon, particularly a gun.

“O.K., let me get out (of my vehicle) to get to my wallet,” I quietly told my would-be robber.

“Actually this will be easier if I go over to the sidewalk,” I said to the guy as I literally walked around him, crossed in front of my vehicle and stood on the nearby sidewalk.

The fellow quickly followed me and shouted: “I mean it. I’ll shoot if you don’t give me money,” he nervously said while sticking his arm straight towards me with his gun.

Facing him, with the guy’s weapon only inches from my face, I noticed that the bore of the barrel was really small, like a .22 caliber; but the cylinder with the bullets was quite large, more like a .38 revolver.

Now I knew that the “gun” was a toy.

Spreading my legs wide and bending at the waist, I put my fists into the basic, defensive Karate position and firmly told my would-be robber: “My wallet is in my back left pocket. If you want it, come and get it.”

Then I focused on his groin where I intended to hit him if he attacked me physically.

“Oh, forget it,” the kid said and he abruptly turned around and ran off.

What L.E.A.P. does

As one of L.E.A.P.’s 129 speakers nationwide, all current and former law-enforcement officers, we educate widely diverse audiences that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs, police offices can focus more on crimes of violence.

We are partners with many community organizations in the cannabis community. Anyone can be a member, not just officers.

L.E.A.P. has over 50,000 members in 80 countries, including Brazil and Canada; and are working on branches in the U-K and Australia.

Readers have called me to report personal experiences of help these monthly NUG articles are providing.

We want to reach even more local, law-enforcement officers, and “we don’t require that they identify themselves as a law-enforcement person,” explains Major Neill Franklin (ret) of the Maryland State Police, our L.E.A.P. executive director headquartered in Medford, MA.

Local Update

Alex Scherer, 28, made the major presentation for the coalition of dispensary owners, the Patient’s Care Association, who ran the successful referendum campaign to kill the draconian ordinances that existed and were de facto bans on dispensaries throughout the city. Scherer made a dramatic speech and few noticed he was dressed casually in shorts.

Photo caption:

Wearing shorts in his city council appearance, Alex Scherer, 28, spoke for the Patients’ Care Association and the coalition of cannabis organizations successfully getting the ordinances re-pealed. Photo by Leo E. Laurence.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Long and Winding Road of Marriage Equality Litigation

Attorney Molnar Explains the Progress of the Prop. 8 Cases


Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

Seeking social change through litigation is not for the faint-hearted — or for the impatient. At the June 25 meeting of the predominantly Queer San Diego Democratic Club, attorney Matt Stephens made that point when he began his presentation on anti-choice litigation by mentioning that the case challenging the Boy Scouts’ sweetheart lease deals on San Diego land was filed in 1999, has “sat in the Court of Appeals since 2006,” and was now at risk of being thrown out because a hostile Appeals Court judge wants to rule it moot because the original plaintiffs are now too old to be Boy Scouts. Likewise, at the club’s next meeting on July 28, attorney Jason Molnar, who got involved in California’s marriage equality cases as a staff lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, brought along two hand-drawn flow charts, each over 20 feet long, detailing the convoluted history of California law on same-sex marriage since 2004.

That, Molnar explained, was the year Gavin Newsom, then mayor of San Francisco and now California’s lieutenant governor, took advantage of San Francisco’s unique status as both a city and county and unilaterally ordered his city clerk to grant marriage licenses to same-sex and opposite-sex couples equally. This directly contradicted Proposition 22, passed by California voters in March 2000 with 61 percent of the vote, which limited marriage to one man and one woman. Proposition 22, passed in reaction to the possibility that Hawai’i or some other state might allow same-sex couples to marry (Hawai’i’s supreme court made such a decision in 1996 but the state’s voters overruled it in 1999 before it could take effect), was the predecessor to 2008’s Proposition 8 but was merely an initiative statute, not an amendment to the state constitution.

Within a month of the start of same-sex marriages in San Francisco in February 2004, the California Supreme Court ruled that Newsom had exceeded his authority and the marriages were null and void. However, Molnar explained, “the court also held that the city and county of San Francisco was free to bring a suit challenging [the constitutionality of] the marriage laws.” That suit won at the trial level, lost at the state appeals court and won at the California Supreme Court by a 4-3 vote in May 2008. Anti-marriage groups, largely funded by the Mormon church and the Roman Catholic organization Knights of Columbus, responded by putting Proposition 8 on the November 2008 ballot, which was identical to Proposition 22 except that it amended the state constitution. “GAME OVER!” read Molnar’s flow chart on the state level — though in fact there was one more state supreme court hearing the next year, after which the court found that nothing in the California constitution blocked Proposition 8 but also ruled that it didn’t affect the validity of the estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages (including Molnar’s to his partner) performed in California before it passed.

The California Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage also said something else of great importance to the Queer community, Molnar explained. It “found that Gays were a ‘suspect class’,” he said, and thereby laws discriminating against them must be subject to “strict scrutiny,” the highest standard of civil-rights review and one the federal courts have so far only extended to laws that discriminate on race. The passage of Proposition 8 eliminated the state constitutional basis for recognizing same-sex marriage but did not affect the “strict scrutiny” standard for all other laws discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

With Proposition 8 in place, Molnar said, the only way for Californians to seek marriage equality through litigation was to file a lawsuit in federal court and challenge it as a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. “There was a big debate in the Gay community on whether we should fight this at the federal level,” Molnar recalled. In the end, the decision didn’t rest with the Queer community leadership; attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, who had been on opposite sides of the infamous 2000 case of Bush v. Gore that decided that year’s Presidential election, decided to recruit plaintiffs from San Francisco and Los Angeles for a federal suit. As they had done during the state level, the Southern Poverty Law Center had Molnar draft an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the federal case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which argued that Proposition 8 “subjected the minority to ‘the tyranny of the majority.’”

The case was assigned — randomly, Molnar insisted — to federal judge Vaughn Walker, who happened to be a Gay man in a long-term relationship. “But that doesn’t matter,” Molnar said. What did matter was the way Walker ran the actual trial. Unlike most constitutional cases, which turn on matters of law and interpretation, Walker set out to build a record based on facts. “He made both sides put on evidence and witnesses,” Molnar recalled. “The other side ended up with just two witnesses [as opposed to the 17 called in favor of marriage equality], and one was better for us than them. It took five months, and Walker firmly rejected Prop. 8. … Walker found that Prop. 8 didn’t even meet the rational-basis test” — the weakest standard for a civil-rights case — “ and he also said, ‘Plaintiffs do not seek a new right. … They want Californians to recognize their relationships for what they are.’”

Walker, Molnar stated, “also said Prop. 8 ‘places the force of law behind stigmas about Gays and Lesbians, including that Gays and Lesbians are ‘not as good’ and they don’t form relationships comparable to those of heterosexuals.” Walker’s opinion included 80 “Findings of Fact” — which was significant because in a non-jury trial the judge is the “finder of fact” as well as the arbiter of law, and appeals courts are not supposed to question the finder of fact’s findings, only whether the law was correctly applied and, if the original judge made a mistake in his or her application of the law, whether that would have affected the outcome (what the law calls “reversible error”). Walker’s decision, Molnar said, was a smashing victory for marriage equality and Queer rights in general.

Instead, Molnar said, it’s been portrayed as a defeat because almost as soon as he made the decision, Walker issued a “stay” — a delay in making it effective — which the Court of Appeals later confirmed. “This is procedural, not substantive,” Molnar explained, “but it confuses a lot of people in our community and makes them think we’re losing when we’re actually winning.” Molnar also pointed to two other important things that happened before the case got to the Ninth Circuit of the federal appeals-court system, its next legal stop. One was that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the trial could not be televised live — as Walker had wanted to do; he had the trial videotaped but so far only a handful of law students have actually seen any of the footage.

The other development was the decision of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his successor, Jerry Brown, not to appeal the case. Schwarzenegger and Brown, his attorney general, had both chosen not to defend Prop. 8 in the trial before Judge Walker and had allowed the initiative’s sponsors, Protect Marriage, to represent it in Walker’s courtroom. But the appeals court questioned whether the sponsors had standing — that is, a right to appeal — because they hadn’t established that they would personally be harmed by allowing same-sex marriages to occur in California. Then the staff of the Imperial County clerk stepped and argued that they had standing because if Walker’s decision stood, they’d have to perform same-sex marriages.

Instead of deciding the case, either on standing or on the merits, the appeals court punted, sending it back to the California Supreme Court for a ruling on whether state law allows initiative sponsors to appeal a decision invalidating their initiative if the government officials refuse to do so. Molnar’s chart was originally open-ended on when the California Supreme Court would actually hear that case, but before the meeting the Court scheduled a date — September 6, 2011 — and he revised his chart to insert the date. Kamala Harris, who replaced Brown as state attorney general when Brown replaced Schwarzenegger as governor, is on the same page as her predecessor and will argue before the state supreme court that the proponents don’t have standing. “If the California Supreme Court says they have standing, the 9th Circuit [federal appeals court] hears it on the merits,” Molnar said. “If not, [the proponents] can appeal.”

According to Molnar, Boies and Olson don’t want their case decided on the standing issue. “They want to win on the merits,” he explained. “It’ll probably be 90 days after the [September 6] hearing that the standing issue will be resolved. It’s possible the court will rule there is no one with standing, and unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, Walker is upheld. It would be a victory, but a narrow one; it would probably allow marriages in California but would not address it in the rest of the country.” Other legal scholars have suggested that a ruling on standing might not even allow same-sex marriage throughout California; the anti-marriage groups are expected to argue that if they don’t have standing to appeal, Judge Walker’s ruling should be confined just to San Francisco and Los Angeles counties because that’s where the plaintiffs in the case were from.

The goal of Olson and Boies throughout the litigation has been the United States Supreme Court — and one Supreme Court justice, Anthony Kennedy, in particular. They, and most Court watchers, expect the other Republican justices — John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — to oppose marriage equality, and the Democratic justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to support it. They pinned their hopes on Kennedy not only because he’s the swing vote but because he wrote the majority opinions in the two most important decisions for Queer rights the U.S. Supreme Court has ever made: Romer v. Evans (1996), which declared an anti-Queer initiative in Colorado unconstitutional; and Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which threw out all state laws against sodomy.

Kennedy, Molnar noted, also wrote a more recent pro-Queer opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Hastings (2010), in which a Christian student group at Hastings College of the Law, a University of California-affiliated school in San Francisco, sought official recognition from the school administration even though they discriminated against Queers. By a 5-4 vote, with Kennedy again writing for the Court, they ruled the school didn’t have to recognize an openly discriminatory group like the Christian Legal Society. On the other hand, Kennedy provided the swing vote in the case that allowed the Boy Scouts of America to continue to discriminate against Queers and atheists on the ground that they’re a private religious organization, and it was he who wrote the opinion forbidding Judge Walker from telecasting the Prop. 8 trial.

Audience members asked whether California’s domestic partnership law is an adequate substitute for marriage. “It’s marriage apartheid,” Molnar answered. “‘I’m domestically partnered’ does not have the same meaning as ‘I’m married.’” He also briefly discussed the ongoing court challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), passed in 1996, which denied federal recognition and benefits to any same-sex couple married in a state that allowed it. And he fielded a question about whether polygamists or polyamorists could take advantage of a pro-marriage equality ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court by calling it “a slippery slope” and saying his position is that “marriage is between two consenting adults.” He did not discuss the likelihood that a U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating Prop. 8 and declaring marriage equality nationwide would energize the campaign for a Federal Marriage Amendment banning same-sex marriages nationwide.

Molnar had spoken in San Diego at least once before, at a town-hall meeting June 3 sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) to discuss whether to put our own initiative on the November 2012 ballot to repeal Proposition 8 and restore marriage equality in California. Then he’d kept on his poker face and hadn’t revealed whether he thought that was a good idea. At the San Diego Democratic Club July 28 he made it clear he was against it because “there’s really nothing to gain. If we win [at the court level], it’s moot. If there’s no issue to be decided, there’s no case. The other alternative is if we lose, it doesn’t look good and we have to go through all the [anti-Queer] commercials again.”