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Carl DeMaio addresses his LGBT support

(Editor’s note: SDGLN is not reporting on the 2012 San Diego mayoral race because SDGLN Publisher Johnathan Hale has a personal relationship with City Councilmember Carl DeMaio, who is running for mayor. SDGLN will also not be making an endorsement in the race. This story was written by SDGLN content partner Gay San Diego.)

SAN DIEGO -- On Tuesday, March 20, at an event organized by the Carl DeMaio for Mayor campaign, Councilmember and 2012 mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio answered questions from a crowd of approximately 95 people. Among questions about pension reform, small businesses and city infrastructure, were those regarding DeMaio’s support for the LGBT community.

Comedian Shawn Pelofsky introduced DeMaio by saying, “What is important to me, in the gay community, is that… you guys are represented everywhere. I don’t care if you’re Democrat, Independent, Green or Republican, our faces need to be seen and represented.” DeMaio said he met Pelofsky at a fundraiser for the LGBT anti-bullying organization, the Trevor Project.

Pelofsky’s was a sentiment shared by DeMaio, who used the evening to reach out to the LGBT and Democrat communities. DeMaio said he believes his support for the LGBT community comes from, in part, being able to be openly gay in places where not many LGBT people are known.

“I have been into neighborhoods, I’ve been into groups [and] I’ve been into constituencies [where] they’ve never really had any interaction with someone from the LGBT community,” DeMaio said. “We are changing minds because we are touching hearts. That’s important for people to understand. You cannot change minds until you interact—as uncomfortable as it may be—and change people’s hearts.”

The event was held at Eden San Diego, located at 1202 University Ave., and the first question from the predominantly male crowd addressed DeMaio’s support for the LGBT community.

“First and foremost, I am a proud member of this community,” DeMaio said. “No matter what my opponents want to say, no matter what deception they want to create, they are not going to run me out of my own community.”

Thom Senzee, editor of San Diego LGBT Weekly, asked DeMaio a campaign-specific question regarding one of DeMaio’s opponents in the mayoral race, Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher. “Why did your campaign manager Ryan Clumpner point out that Nathan Fletcher had a low score as a Republican that supported LGBT rights…,” Senzee asked. Senzee was referencing an online post written by Clumpner, in which he said Fletcher’s rating with several political interest groups made Fletcher the “most liberal Republican.”

“That’s not what happened,” DeMaio said in response to Senzee’s question. “What our campaign made sure that people understood is that before you cast a vote, you should understand people’s records on issues.”

On March 8, before the San Diego County Republican Party Central Committee voted on their endorsement for a mayoral candidate, Clumpner posted a message on sdrostra.com called “Nathan Fletcher’s Misfire.” In it, Clumpner listed ratings of Fletcher by four “third party organizations:” the Republican Liberty Caucus, California Republican Assembly, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Capitol Resource Family Impact.

Fletcher was vying for the endorsement from the County Republican Party, as was District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. DeMaio won the endorsement in a vote on March 10.

Benjamin Nicholls, Hillcrest Business Association executive director, asked DeMaio to speak about the differences between small, local businesses and large ones. DeMaio said he understood the issues small businesses experience, having previously started two that grew to be medium-sized businesses. DeMaio’s partner, Johnathan Hale, is also a small business owner. Hale operates Hale Media, Inc., which produces San Diego Gay and Lesbian News and San Diego PIX.

“I understand the challenges that a small business owner faces,” DeMaio said. “Johnathan [Hale] is a small business owner. It’s sort of like a blast from the past when he comes home and he says, ‘Look what form I got from the government today,’” the Councilmember said.

DeMaio went on to say he and Hale are supporters of Stepping Stone of San Diego, a nonprofit drug and alcohol recovery center providing programs primarily for the LGBT community. Both DeMaio and Hale are listed as donors for the nonprofit.

San Diego LGBT Center board member Tom Hebrank attended the March 20 event and thanked DeMaio for his support. “For those who question your commitment, I want to thank you for supporting a $100,000 grant for mental health services through The Center,” Hebrank said.

DeMaio responded by saying, “I’m absolutely thrilled about that, but there are several of our neighborhood organizations in the LGBT community that were passed up for funding again this year.”

DeMaio again mentioned Stepping Stone, as well as Townspeople, an LGBT organization addressing the housing needs of people living with HIV and AIDS and Being Alive, a support and advocacy organization for people living with HIV and AIDS, as having been passed up for funding. “These are organizations that do exemplary work,” DeMaio said.

“I think the best way for me to represent the gay community is to continue doing what I’ve been doing: going into communities where we don’t have any representation and going in there and saying, ‘I want to be your mayor because I want to be a good mayor. I want to get things done,’” DeMaio said. “‘Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering, yes. I’m gay.’ It shouldn’t really matter, should it?”

This article was originally published in Gay San Diego.