The California state assembly on Monday passed resolution HR 17, proclaiming June, 2009 as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month.
But controversy arose when one Republican assemblyman linked the resolution’s encouragement to Californians “to work to help advance the cause of equality” for LGBT residents with proposition 8 and marriage equality for same-sex couples.
As with previous years, there was coordinated opposition by Republican legislators with Assemblyman Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) rising to speak against the resolution. Mr. Gaines, whose biography claims he is an evangelical insurance broker, reprimanded his colleagues for failing to acknowledge “the will of the people,” as he linked HR17 to proposition 8 in his call to oppose the resolution calling for equality for gay and lesbian Californians.
“I must regrettably rise in opposition, both to this resolution and the ceremony which will accompany it,” said Gaines. “We stand today in the peoples house. All the people, not just the few. It is appropriate that the assembly recognize and appreciate the myriad diversity that comprises the California mosaic. And I congratulate those who are working selflessly to help those in need and those who are suffering. But it is sadly evident that this resolution and the ceremony today is less about that and much more about advocating changes in the law that run counter to the will of the people, and I cannot be a party to that,” he said.
“I believe that HR 17 is an outright reaction not only to a plurality of viewpoints but also to the decided judgment of our initiative and judicial processes. It is essential that legislators in the peoples house respect the views of the majority and of the voters of this state in our institutions and pushing resolutions like this one to show millions of Californians that the majority party in the legislature thinks their views don’t matter. It says that their deeply held beliefs and the judgment of their courts are somehow not legitimate.”
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), dressed in a light blue striped seersucker suit and black and white patent leather loafers, responded to Mr. Gaines proposition 8-directed comments. “I really didn’t see any mention of marriage,” replied Mr. Ammiano. “Though I understand why a connection would be made as we stand here today to acknowledge the people whose shoulders many of us stand on, including past and present members of the LGBT caucus, Ms. Migden, Ms. Kuehl, Ms. Goldberg, Mr. Laird, Mr. Leno and ms. Kehoe.”
The resolution passed 45-6, with 21 assembly members either absent or abstaining. Following the vote, all but seven Republican legislators left the chambers. The resolution had 43 co-sponsors.
Outside the Assembly chamber following the event, Mr. Ammiano responded to the GOP reaction. “That kind of behavior always is going to be with us until we achieve true equality. I have respect for my colleagues and it’s painful they feel this is a distance that cannot be bridged. But in the meantime, get over yourselves. It’s not about them, it’s about us, and I think we’re doing fabulous.”
“I wanted to just compliment the members of the Republican caucus who stayed on the floor,” Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) told the BAR, noting that during the previous ceremony GOP legislators left as a group, “Which was definitely intended to be a statement to oppose equal rights for LGBT Californians. There are clearly differences here in Sacramento. Democrats by in large support equal rights for LGBT Californians, Republicans oppose them, but maybe there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel, some softening of their oppositon, and that would be a good thing,” Kehoe told the BAR.
The seven GOP legislators who remained through the ceremony were Assemblymembers Van Tran, Nathan Fletcher, Curt Hagman, Audra Strickland, William Emmerson, Anthony Adams and Dan Logue.
Those LGBT community members honored were Ivy Bottini, Jose Sarria, Megan Hogan Bienestar Human Services (for Latino HIV outreach), Brigadier General Keith Kerr, Father Geoffrey, Miss Major, and Helen Zia.
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