The Sanders backstory

Timothy Kincaid

October 13th, 2012

Most readers will recall that day in September 2007 when Republican San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders called a press conference to announce his veto of a City Council resolution in favor of marriage equality – but then announced that he would endorse marriage instead.

Long time activist Nicole Murray Ramirez now tells us the story behind the press conference that surprised and touched the nation. (LGBT weekly)

Almost immediately, the media attributed Mayor Sanders’ change of heart to the fact that he has an openly lesbian daughter, Lisa Sanders. Lisa and I know that this is far from the truth and the real story has never been told.

Lisa and I developed a close relationship because her father asked me to help Lisa maneuver the complexities of coming out while being a public figure. I felt like her fairy godmother as I have watched Lisa blossom into an LGBT activist and leader in her own right.

Let me stop there to say how that decision reflects on Sanders’ character.

Nicole Murray Ramirez

Ramirez was an excellent choice; experienced, connected, pragmatic, and goal-focused. But he’s also Empress Nicole the Great, The Queen Mother of the Americas within the Imperial Court System, a drag community that raises huge amounts of money for HIV/AIDS and other causes. And, sadly, many people – Republican, Democrat, or anything at all – would hesitate before choosing a drag queen as the mentor for their daughter. I think drag queens are perhaps the hardest for straight people to understand or appreciate.

So I really respect that Sanders went with ability and integrity instead of stereotypes about who the “good gays” were. Back to the story.

Mayor Sanders was in a quandary. Sanders was under political pressure to veto the City Council’s resolution from within the Republican Party, plus Sanders was up for re-election. His opponent was millionaire Steve Francis who took a public stand against same-sex marriage.

I will never forget the confidential phone call I received from Sanders’ aide, Fred Sainz. Sainz informed me that the mayor had decided to veto the City Council marriage equality resolution. Sainz asked that I arrange a meeting with LGBT leaders so the mayor could personally explain his decision.

Sainz suggested that I pick ten LGBT leaders from a list that he submitted to me. In addition, he requested commentary space for the mayor in the Gay and Lesbian Times to explain his veto to the entire LGBT community.

Go read it. It’s an important part of our history.


October 13th, 2012

Is it wrong that instead of being inclined to thank him and be grateful for his ultimate decision, I want to castigate him for being so difficult to persuade, and coming so close to making the wrong decision?

I mean, it’s great he changed his mind when he was presented with a roomful of people (in his own home) that had compelling stories articulately told by sympathetic characters — but we can’t do that with every person that needs their mind changed.

There’s presumably nothing in these stories that the mayor couldn’t have produced using his own imagination — so why did it take these people coming to his home?

I sit ready to be chastened for my cynical attitude.

Gene in L.A.

October 13th, 2012

If you recognize your attitude as cynical, why do you need someone to chasten you for it? The important thing is that a thinking man was open-minded enough to consider the opposite side of his own attitude and brave enough to change it in the face of political pressure. We will never be able to change everyone’s minds; let’s be grateful for those we can change and give credit to those who are willing to be changed. Maybe someday simple education will do the job. Until then it’s either us or it’s no one.

F Young

October 13th, 2012

This is another example that proves the importance of in-person story-telling.


October 14th, 2012

The power of coming out cannot be overstated. It is our most useful tool.

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