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A painful era

It's PrideFest time again, and that means another opportunity for Mayor Rivera and the gay community to score points off each other.

For the mayor, it's altogether agreeable to have an opportunity to lambaste gay marriage, and, by implication, gayness itself. After all, didn't our very own high priest/ayatollah/Bible scholar/sequestered cleric, His Holiness Doctor James Dobson hisself liken the battle against gay marriage to Armageddon?

And isn't the Dark Lord of Briargate's power such that the mightiest of secular potentates, George II, President and Pretender, Lord High Executioner, journeyed to the Focus of All and humbly sought the Lord Doctor's favor? And given that the mayor, insignificant though he may be in the Grand and Godly Enterprise of Republican Politics, exerts a certain petty authority over the Dark Lord's domain and also aspires to higher office ... doesn't it make sense for the mayor to go after those Same Sex Sinners big-time??!! Well duh!!

And for the gay community this has got to be a bizarre moment in local history. It wasn't so very long ago, after all, that our city's resident homophobes were pointing to the unbridled sexuality of a few participants in a '70s San Francisco parade as evidence of the degeneracy/moral turpitude of all gays. Remember? Gays were inherently promiscuous, carriers of all kinds of disease, and wholly responsible for the AIDS plague.

And now look at 'em! They want to marry, and live in the suburbs, and go to church, and garden, and support their partners/spouses in old age, and create stable, lasting relationships. Why, why, the very idea! The horror! Imagine, dozens of gays pledging their troth in Acacia Park ... oh, say it ain't so Mayor Lionel -- make it go away.

But it doesn't much matter what Rivera, or Doctor Dobson, or George Bush, or Pastor Ted Haggard at the New Life Church, say or believe. Our country's historically hysterical prejudice against gay men and women is ending, however slowly and painfully. Want proof? Every poll shows that Americans under 25, by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, reject all forms of prejudice against gays. And by the same margin, Americans over 60 cling to the belief that it's OK to discriminate against gays. Geezers: begone!! The future is not yours.

So when the time comes to erect a statue of our city's greatest leader of the early 21st century, say around 2050, it ain't gonna be Rivera. I'd put my money on the gently courageous and principled Vice Mayor Richard Skorman, or the tough-minded and equally principled former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.

And as for Rivera and his fellow gay-bashers in local government -- you'll be remembered just as fondly as former City Councilman Dawson Hubert (anyone remember that guy?) whose notoriety peaked when he told a group of mostly African-Americans that it's perfectly OK to discriminate against people.

Yup, they may be moral pygmies and pious hypocrites to boot, but we keep electing 'em to office. So let's take a look at the current crop of wanna-bes.

Connoisseurs of attack pieces will appreciate a current Dan May mailing, in which the anointed successor to the present District Attorney Jeanne Smith compares himself to upstart John Newsome. Here's my favorite claim: 1982 -- Dan May is sworn in as Deputy District Attorney. 1982 -- John Newsome doing homework for 7th Grade.

C'mon, May coulda been a lot tougher -- how, for instance, does he know that Newsome did his homework? And nasty as the district attorney's campaign has been, it promises to get a lot nastier. But just as Southern segregationist pols learned never to be out-segged by their opponents, Newsome has a new mentor: Lethal Injection Jesus. Who's gonna pray more, jail more and execute more? Newsome! And apparently, we'd rather have tough talk and pious posturing than actual, like, experience. My money's on Newsome.

Over in Commissioner District 2, where Doug Bruce faces Margaret Radford, the Dougster may once again go down, this time to a woman (gasp!) journalist (choke!) turned politician (aaaargggh!). Folks may admire Bruce, and approve of TABOR, but also recognize that Bruce might be less interested in representing his constituents than in pursuing whatever eccentric agenda he happens to be pushing.

And as for District 3: Sallie Clark. Jack Gloriod's a good candidate, but running against Sallie on the West Side is like running against Marcy Morrison in Manitou.

It's how you learn to lose.

-- johnhazlehurst@earthlink.net

  • A painful era

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