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Commentary: Who's telling the truth at LGBT Weekly?

SAN DIEGO, California -- A casual reader of LGBT Weekly this week would get two starkly contrasting views on congressional candidate Carl DeMaio.

Publisher Stampp Corbin portends to climb into "DeMaio's political mind" and concocts a fantasy of a candidate who would do anything to "win at any cost." Corbin makes some outrageous allegations against DeMaio, none of which are sourced or referenced or proven by the facts.

But in the same issue, longtime local activist Nicole Murray Ramirez devotes his entire column this week to document his long history with DeMaio in the piece titled "About Carl DeMaio and I." Nicole, as he is known throughout the LGBT community, says he has mentored DeMaio since before he first ran for San Diego City Council in a race that DeMaio won.

"There was one major problem when it came to Carl DeMaio and most of our GLBT leaders and activists – he was a Republican. Without even meeting or getting to know him, many in our community disliked him immediately and judged and condemned him, yes, because he was a Republican," Nicole writes.

Yes, Corbin is one of those persons. He is outspoken in his opposition to DeMaio and had maintained a public feud with DeMaio's partner, Johnathan Hale, head of the Hillcrest Business Association and the publisher and CEO of a much larger and more successful media company that produces the GLBT News Network, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, San Diego PIX Magazine and other operations.

In his commentary this week, Corbin makes a huge whopper that calls into question his credibility as a truth-teller. He writes:

"Let’s take a look at the motivations of candidate Carl DeMaio. DeMaio was the first elected LGBT City councilman in San Diego. As many of you know, DeMaio won in the heavily Republican district that included Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch and Mira Mesa. DeMaio ran as a closeted candidate, his personal life was off limits. Most of those who voted for DeMaio did not know he was gay."

Flip over to Nicole's column, readers learn this:

"Carl 'came out' in a San Diego Magazine interview by then editor, Tom Blair who also happened to be gay.

"He won a huge victory in the primary election that year becoming the first openly gay elected City councilman, followed later that year by Todd Gloria."

So who is correct? Corbin or Nicole? Google Tom Blair and San Diego Magazine and Carl DeMaio and you get the correct answer.

Blair (TB) interviewed DeMaio (CD) for the April 2007 issue of San Diego Magazine and asked him about whether he would run for the City Council in 2008. DeMaio voluntarily outed himself in that issue without Blair even asking the question. Follow the Q&A from that issue:

CD: I’m very excited by the prospect of being part of that reform team -- from District 5. But I’d look at three criteria. First, can I contribute to moving our city forward by being on the council? Second, I care a lot about the mission we’ve begun at The Performance Institute, and I want to make sure that continues. And third, as a private individual, can I live with the public scrutiny? Am I prepared to have the public shine a light on my personal life?

TB: Do you have some particular issue there?

CD: The fact that I’m gay, I suppose. But at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s very relevant when you consider all the things that are really important to voters. We have the city’s greatest financial crisis ever. We have city services being cut in our neighborhoods. Our leaders breaking the public trust by violating the law.

TB: You wouldn’t be our first gay councilmember.

CD: True. And even though it may be uncomfortable for me — coming out, being honest with the people — I think that’s what people want. It certainly hasn’t been relevant in the past five years, as we’ve sought to bring the city’s problems to public light, although some of the folks we were shining a light on did put pressure on us in regard to my personal life — in an effort to get us to back off. We didn’t.

TB: I guess it comes down to whether it’s better to be outside of office throwing stones, or inside, dodging them.

CD: I was at a reception recently, and an insider, who’ll remain nameless, said, “You know, Carl, there’s now a curse word going around City Hall, among the insiders and union folks, that’s worse than ‘Carl DeMaio.’ It’s ‘Councilmember Carl DeMaio.’ ”

Then we went to Tom Blair himself for comment.

“The article speaks for itself. Literally. The interview was published in its entirety and one of the questions led to Carl voluntarily coming out as gay,” Blair said via telephone on Thursday.

DeMaio's "coming out" did generate a lot of backlash within the Republican Party, especially from the right-wing fringe. But it did not stop DeMaio from winning the election and fulfilling his campaign promise of reforming City Hall pensions.

But being a gay Republican is like waving a red cape in front of an angry bull. Many Democrats feel betrayed by LGBT candidates who join other parties, since Democrats have embraced LGBT rights and gay marriage. Never mind that DeMaio agrees with Democrats on equal rights and many social issues, just not on other key issues involving business and commerce.

Nicole writes that local gay leaders asked him not to bring DeMaio to LGBT events because of his political affiliation.

"Sometimes some GLBT leaders and activists got so negative and nasty toward Carl that they wanted to stop his involvement with our community. But he got involved with Stepping Stone, Townspeople, Being Alive, and The Trevor Project etc. Anytime I asked him for support of our community’s Children’s Easter Egg Hunt, Toys for Kids Xmas Drive, Backpacks and School Supplies for Children, food drives etc. he always came through with support … never seeking headlines," Nicole writes.

But Corbin writes all sorts of nasty things, accusing DeMaio of having ties to the Tea Party and being delusional about being able to change the anti-gay mind-set of the Republican Party.

"DeMaio’s megalomaniac mind is telling him, 'I will make the difference. The Republican Party will change its position on LGBT rights and abortion by my will.' Voters know that DeMaio is deluded. The poor guy actually believes he is the change the Republican Party has been waiting for. Problem is most of the Republican Party leaders do not think so when it comes to LGBT civil rights, abortion and birth control."

But then Nicole writes this:

"Though Carl had a 100 percent voting record when it came to GLBT civil rights issues, the left wing Democratic gay activists and leaders campaign to destroy Carl DeMaio has never stopped. And soon they started attacking and trying to destroy his partner, Johnathan Hale.

"In about half a century of involvement in politics and our community I have never witnessed such a nasty and vicious campaign as the one aimed at Carl. They even stooped to spread an ugly “bathroom” smear attack on Carl that even then Council President Tony Young and Council President Todd Gloria condemned as pure lies.

“Now don’t get me wrong, Carl DeMaio is not the perfect candidate and I don’t agree with him on all the issues and Johnathan Hale is far from perfect (and so am I and who is) but the Carl DeMaio and, yes, Johnathan Hale of two years ago are not the same. These two young men have grown, experienced loss and life more, matured and deserve you to learn more about them and get to know them on your own. Not what editorials, commentaries, ads and, yes, even my column say.

"This is my challenge to each and every one of you: do your own homework and make up your own mind. Thank you."

So there you have it: Same publication, two completely opposite viewpoints. You be the judge.

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Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN and GLBTNN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713. For the record, Williams has been a registered Democrat since the 1970s.

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As a matter of full disclosure, Hale Media Publisher Johnathan Hale has a personal relationship with Carl DeMaio.