In California’s Capitol, the County District Attorney’s race is open for the first time in two decades with the announced retirement of Jan Scully.
One of the candidates, Anne Marie Schubert, the gay sister of the architect of California’s notorious anti-gay marriage ballot initiative, Proposition 8, is running as a conservative law and order candidate endorsed by every major law enforcement association and correctional officer’s union.
Public records show both Schuberts are registered as Republicans, while the candidate’s two opponents, Maggy Krell and Todd Leras, are registered Democrats.
Ms. Schubert’s oldest brother, Frank, made millions of dollars stripping away equal marriage rights of homosexuals at the ballot box in California and Maine in 2008. Because of the familial connection to the fight against marriage equality, Ms. Schubert’s run for District Attorney has proven to be divisive among the region’s LGBT advocacy community.
“I don’t hold Anne Marie accountable for the actions of her brother,” Darrick Lawson, the past president of Sacramento’s Rainbow Chamber of Commerce whose group surprised many with its recent endorsement of Schubert’s leading opponent, Krell. “I hold her accountable for her own actions, and more importantly, her own inactions.
“I believe there is one Californian in 2008 who was uniquely qualified to make a difference during the Prop 8 campaign, and that was Anne Marie Schubert. If she had stood on the Capitol steps with her partner and their two children, the debate would have changed immediately,” Lawson claimed.
While Frank Schubert designed a successful campaign that promoted the idea that children would somehow be damaged or diminished to be knowledgable of same-sex unions, his sister and now candidate for District Attorney worked and lived in Sacramento with her Domestic Partner, Julie Greenberg, raising two young children the approximate age of the young boy, Joey Wirthlin, politically exploited by her brother to get California voters to strip away the right of their gay fellow citizens to marry.
“We are all accountable for the choices we make and fail to make in our lives, and I think her silence during prop 8 is hard to justify,” Lawson told California Progress Report (CPR).
Christine Allen, a spokesperson for Marriage Equality USA, a national organization that continues to fight for marriage equality, agreed with Lawson that Schubert’s coming out would have impacted the prop 8 debate.
“She absolutely would have been a gamechanger,” Allen, who lives in Sacramento, told CPR. “There is no doubt.”
Allen points out the current disclosure that Charles Cooper, the attorney who defended prop 8 before the US Supreme Court has now “changed his position” since his daughter announced her plans to marry her same-sex partner.
“The most powerful message is that even our opponents have gay and lesbian members of their family and regardless of what they choose to sayt publicly in the heat of the campaign, historically weve often found that their personal behavior and private beliefs are very different. Unfortunately, we too often learn this after the election, and after voters have been misled.”
California Progress Report made several attempts to reach Ms. Schubert for a response to the comments of Lawson and Allen, but calls to the campaign number and an email and calls to campaign manager, Dave Gilliard, were not returned.
When asked about Anne Marie Schubert’s friends within the Sacramento community who likewise remained quiet about Frank Schubert’s extended family including a same-sex couple with children, with at least one Christmas party reported at the couple’s home which Frank Schubert attended, Allen responded, “I appreciate that there was a code of silence in the name of friendship, however, without a doubt it would have been better for the community as a whole if that silence had been broken.”
Kathi Finnerty, one of the founding members of SacLegal, the local LGBT association of lawyers, and an active member of LGBT rights-focused Stonewall Democratic Club, supports the Republican Schubert who she’s known “professionally” for a decade.
Finnerty said she knows Anne Marie and her brother Frank and claims Ms. Schubert’s silence during Prop 8 is not as cut and dry as it might seem.
While Finnerty wished to be “considerate of Anne Marie’s right to privacy” she told CPR that there may have been other, personal reasons why Ms. Schubert did not hold a press conference on the Capitol Steps celebrating her family.
“She’s now single,” Finnerty said, asking readers to draw their own conclusions to why she might not have been so public about her relationship.
Finnerty told CPR that Schubert was dating but Finnerty had not yet met Ms. Schubert’s current girlfriend.
Schubert has since claimed to be in a relationship in an article appearing last week in the Sacramento Bee.
Finnerty challenges any presumption that Schubert does not have LGBT support in the county. While most of Sacramento’s LGBT organizations are rooted within the City of Sacramento, Sacramento County has many lesbian and gay individuals who are not represented by the organizations. Rainbow’s Chamber of Commerce, for example, had only around 45 votes cast to endorse a candidate for District Attorney.
Finnerty’s own group, Stonewall Democrats, however, support Krell. SACLEGAL is not able to endorse candidates, however, CPR spoke with two other SACLEGAL members, Jo Michaels and Natalie Bustamente, who together were only able to name one other Schubert supporter in their organization besides Finnerty.
As evidence of the LGBT support Finnerty claimed Schubert has, she told CPR she was hosting a “meet and greet” for Schubert last Friday night and expected “between 40 to 50,” to attend. Finnerty said the event “was not a media event,” and declined to name any of the attendees, referring to the T Street home of the party as being owned by ‘Liz’.”
In addition to Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, Maggy Krell has the coveted endorsement of Sacramento’s last citizen mayor, Anne Rudin, widely admired and beloved by a Sacramento LGBT community who literally began their campaign for equality in 1972 when Rudin demanded police stop harrassing a transgendered woman named Velma Starr. The now 89 year-old Rudin, fondly referred to by many in the LGBT community as “Mother Mayor,” for implementation of anti-discrimination ordinances in housing and employment for LGBT and those living with HIV/AIDS, told CPR, “I’ve known Maggy for a long time and know her to be both fair and principled,” said Rudin.
Todd Leras, a United States District Attorney who entered too late for any LGBT organization endorsement, was the only candidate to tell the BAR that he supported eliminating felony convictions for simple drug possession. “I supported SB 649 (Leno).”
SB 649, which would have made simple possession of Opiates a wobbler, giving District Attorneys the flexibility to charge possession as a misdemeanor or felony, was not endorsed by a single county DA. Leras told CPR, “They don’t want to be accountable for the disparity between races and classes,” said Leras, who believes SB 649 would have made DA’s more responsible by creating a record of who and how often they prosecuted with a life-altering felony conviction.
Leras’ father, a Santa Rosa farmer, told the BAR at the candidate’s debate at the McGeorge School of Law last week that Leras cried when his lifelong friend told him he was gay. “Not because he was unhappy he was gay, because he felt so bad” his friend felt he couldn’t share that with Leras.
Leras’ father said he was proud of his son when he asked that friend to be his best man.
For Ms. Schubert, there appears to be a similar vision shared with her brother as a conservative, but there also appear to be differences. Frank Schubert has said his devout interpretation of the Humanae Vitae doctrine of Catholic faith, one that holds as sacred the sanctity of life and by measure then only supports marriage for those couples able to procreate, is the reason he opposes, by faith, marriage equality for all citizens. Ms. Schubert, however, defied the same Catholic Doctrine by co-chairing the No on Prop 34 campaign to stop the repeal of the Death Penalty. Catholics are primarily those who hold vigil outside a prison when someone is scheduled for execution by the state.
Any weekend gardener breaks the law by accidentally pulling out a California Poppy while weeding, but whether or not that offense is worthy of prosecution by the county District Attorney is determined by the California county in which you live.
Whether counties spend money on prosecuting and inmate housing and ignore recidivism rates, or whether more money is spent on reform, correction and rehabilitation programs in Sacramento County, will be determined by who wins this election.
In Sacramento County, centrally located between the conservative eastern counties that are considered part of the Mormon Corridor and sphere of influence, or the more progressive coastal counties of the golden state, the fight is on for control of how justice will be served.
Dan Aiello is the Sacramento reporter for the California Progress Report.