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HRC’s Fred Sainz scrambles his facts on Carl DeMaio and Prop 8

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SAN DIEGO, California — A high-ranking official with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has come under fire this week for making a claim against openly gay Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio that appears to be inconsistent with the public record.

Fred Sainz, HRC vice president of communications and marketing who is a former press secretary for San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, told The Daily Beast that DeMaio shot down his 2008 request to come out publicly against Proposition 8 because he feared such a move would jeopardize his race for City Council.

Records obtained from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, however, show that DeMaio had been elected to the City Council during the June 3 primary, a full five months before Proposition 8 came up for a vote during the 2008 presidential election.

DeMaio is one of three candidates hoping to defeat first-term Congressman Scott Peters (D-San Diego) this November, and the first step is the June primary. If elected, DeMaio would be the first openly gay Republican elected to U.S. Congress.

And although City Hall records show that DeMaio had a 100% voting record on LGBT issues while serving on the San Diego City Council, the HRC has instead chosen to endorse Peters, who is heterosexual.

“Fred’s personal views on Carl have obviously pushed him to give the HRC board misinformation,” said Dave McCulloch, DeMaio campaign spokesman. “His account is bizarre at best, because a simple check of the timeline shows Fred is wrong.”

Tommy Knepper, DeMaio’s campaign manager, wondered about Sainz’s agenda.

“It’s a shame that there are some in the LGBT community like Fred Sainz who are willing to put their partisan views before the mission of advancing full equality,” Knepper said. “Despite receiving no support from these partisan groups, Carl DeMaio will continue to do the hard work of fighting for equality within the Republican Party.”

Arlon Staggs, former Steering Committee member of the San Diego Chapter of the Human Rights Campaign who was active in the fight to defeat Prop 8, recalls a different timeline than Sainz. In a letter to the community published Monday by San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Staggs said Sainz’s timeline is wrong and his statement is full of “shame, disgrace and lies.”

“To say that Carl DeMaio was anything but 100% on board with the campaign to defeat Prop 8 is an outright lie,” Staggs wrote.

“He was just as visible and as vocal as any other community leader working to defeat Prop 8 and he spoke out on many occasions for marriage equality. But because of his party label, nothing Carl did was good enough,” Staggs wrote.

Attempts to reach Sainz for further comment were not responded to in time for deadline.

Not gay enough?

The crux of DeMaio’s problem with LGBT political groups may be more related to him not being the gay candidate, but the candidate who just so happens to be gay.

Florida-based political consultant Alex Patton, who is not connected to the congressional race, said the active campaign against DeMaio is a short-sighted strategy.

“They are no worse than dogmatic, single-issue organizations; to them this is a zero sum game and the context of the election is everything,” Patton said. “Logically this makes no sense in arguing a candidate’s degree of gayness. But I do think that groups who are saying these types of things are on the course of marginalizing themselves.”

The politics, it seems, are less about supporting an LGBT candidate and more about backing the Democratic Party.

“That’s really the bottom line, there’s always a smoke screen or reason why they can’t support gay Republicans or Republicans in general,” said Susan Jester, founder of AIDS Walk San Diego and president of the San Diego Chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans.

“In the past 30 years, it’s been my experience that the gay left will simply not support gay Republican candidates and instead, have gone about the business of doing everything they can to demonize them,” Jester said. “They distort the facts and misrepresent why they won’t support someone like Carl, when ultimately, it comes down to his values and views of the government being in our lives is different than theirs.”

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Margie M. Palmer is a freelance journalist who contributes to SDGLN and Gay San Diego, among other publications.

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

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