A San Diego Citizen speaks out about Mayor Jerry Sanders
Yesterday’s Prop 8 trial testimony was dominated by the emotional San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, The anti-Prop 8 attorneys showed a video of the Mayor’s news conference from September 2007, when he broke down in tears as he gushed to the world that he now supported same sex marriage. Learning that his own daughter was a lesbian was the event that precipitated his change of heart.
Today’s courtroom opponents of Prop 8 want to depict Mayor Sanders as a compassionate soul who came to his senses and supported same sex marriage at the 11th hour, back in 2007.
I remember the events of September 2007 very well. I remember what led up to that day when Jerry Sanders cried for the cameras. Oddly enough, no one asked me about my feelings, then or now.
At that time, the same sex marriage case, (called In re: Marriage Cases) was working its way through the courts of California. The City of San Diego was debating whether to file an amicus brief in support of same sex marriage in that case. (Quite a few CA cities had already filed these briefs.) An amicus brief doesn’t have any real legal impact. The City of San Diego didn’t need to take any position at all on the matter. The great public discussion about filing an amicus brief was about political posturing and preening, pure and simple. Pose for the camera. Get your pro-gay ticket punched so you can get invited to the right parties, be seen with the right people, and get the financial support of the gay community.
So one fine day in September 2007, the San Diego City Council held public hearings on the question of whether the City of San Diego should file an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the marriage cases. There were about 200 people there. The City Council scrupulously heard equal amounts of testimony from both sides, all afternoon. The Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, Salvatore Cordileone, sent a message, begging the City Council not to divide the city by passing a legally meaningless and completely unnecessary resolution. I spoke. So did many others from both sides. It all looked so fair, so democratic, so positively New-England-town-meeting-ish.
And then, at the end of an afternoon of passionate speeches on both sides, City Council members pulled out already prepared speeches, endorsing same sex marriage. The entire proceedings had been a cynical public relations ploy. They were not listening to their constituents. They never had any intention of listening. Their minds had been made up, well in advance of hearing the very first speech. (I should say that the vote was not unanimous.)
I remember that many of us had hoped Mayor Sanders would do as he promised when was elected, and keep the City of San Diego neutral on the same sex marriage issue. Sanders had campaigned on a pledge to support natural marriage. He wasn’t elected to promote his personal views, or to indulge in his emotions in public.
I had some feelings that day. I felt betrayed that he went along with the posing for the cameras, adding a touch of drama of his own with his tears. Lots of other people were offended too. No one has asked us about our feelings. We were angry. We felt invisible, as if we didn’t matter.
We did what Americans do when they are angry with their government. We didn’t sue anyone. We didn’t hold a news conference and cry in front of the cameras. Nor did we do a combination of those two, as the opponents of Prop 8 are currently doing. We refrained from suing somebody and getting the cameras to watch us cry in the courtroom. We looked for a way to act within the law to express our views, and to persuade our fellow citizens to join us.
Some far-sighted San Diego citizens decided in the aftermath of that City Council meeting, to do something. They came up with a plan to put a marriage amendment on the ballot for the 2008 election. These citizens reasoned that there would never be another opportunity. They saw that the Supreme Court of CA would redefine marriage and impose same sex marriage on the state. They reasoned that if a marriage amendment weren’t passed in the election of 2008, same sex marriage would be so entrenched that we could never dislodge it. It was now or never. Thus was born the campaign for the measure that became known as Proposition 8.
Full disclosure, or I should say: full confession. I was against putting the marriage amendment on the ballot. I didn’t think it could be done. I thought it would be worse to put it on the ballot and lose, than to let it go. I held back at first. But, fortunately, they didn’t listened to me. They forged ahead.
So, I will tell you something you probably didn’t know: the initial push for Prop 8 came from San Diego. The money to get it on the ballot came from San Diego. Once it was on the ballot, people from all over the state jumped on the bandwagon to help.
All because of that meeting back in September 2007, when the City Council members showed their utter contempt for their constituents.
The gay rights machine had been moving along smoothly. The gay lobby won that court case, In re: Marriage Cases, in May of 2008, as everyone had predicted. The LGBT Caucus had already won SB 777, mandating gay friendly curriculum in the schools, including elementary schools. Ordinary people weren’t paying attention. The CA gay political machine could have kept right on going, putting their policies in place, and no one would have noticed until it was too late.
But now, after Prop 8, everyone in CA is paying attention. Parents are no longer asleep at the switch. They are going to their local school board meetings and keeping track of changes to the school curriculum. They pushed back against the Alameda County school district in 2009.
Jerry Sanders, that’s the result of Prop 8.
That’s the result of gratuitously insulting your constituents, San Diego City Council and Jerry Sanders. You awoke a sleeping giant.