Three San Diego elected Republicans—Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Councilmembers Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer—are in a tough spot. The District 6 City Council seat, being vacated after this year by termed-out Democrat Donna Frye, is the only chance in 2010 they have to narrow the gap on the council between Democrats and Republicans.
But the District 6 candidate endorsed by the San Diego County Republican Party is Lorie Zapf, who, CityBeat revealed in a story last week, wrote in e-mails to an anti-gay activist in 2006 that homosexuality is a sin and that gay people should be kept out of elected office and not allowed to influence education.
When CityBeat asked Zapf—before she knew we had her e-mails—if she wanted to keep elected offices free of gay people, she said that was “absurd” and that she supported DeMaio and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, both gay. When we presented the e-mails to her, she said the words she used “do not accurately reflect my views or actions then or now” and apologized for them.
For the moment, let's take her at her word—after all, if she knew Dumanis and DeMaio were gay when she supported their candidacies, then her actions belied her words. In that case, in 2006, when she sought a seat on the San Diego County Republican Central Committee, she lied in her e-mail to activist James Hartline, shamefully pandering to a reprehensible, hysterical bigot who doesn't think he's gay anymore. And for what? To secure the support of Hartline's crazy band of fringe fundamentalist followers? That's particularly odd in light of her comment to Hartline that she didn't care all that much if she wasn't elected to the GOP committee.
Even though she might hold her nose and endorse a gay candidate if he or she is conservative enough, how could one say such things without a certain level of conviction. She didn't simply tell Hartline that she shares his views on homosexuality; she even brought her own family into it, saying her gay kin are sinful products of unhappy childhoods. She also told the U-T that it's not all gay people that she dislikes; it's gay activists—the gay people who are proud of who they are and are committed to fighting discrimination. Furthermore, she blamed the press and said she doesn't understand why her e-mail was newsworthy. Um, really?
We're disappointed with Sanders' and DeMaio's responses thus far. “I'm probably not in the best position to be judging others about that,” Sanders told a Union-Tribune reporter. “I would take Lorie at her word that that was four years ago and that she's changed her position on that and I'd be willing to accept that.”
First of all, if Sanders had carefully read our story, he'd know that she's not claiming that her views had changed; she's admitting that she was not being honest with Hartline. But even if she were claiming that she'd had a change of heart, we'd call B.S. When was the last time you heard someone rave about a gay “agenda,” as she did in the e-mail, only to do an about-face just a few short years later?
Meanwhile, DeMaio said via Twitter on Friday, “I do believe her apology is sincere and that she does not subscribe to discriminatory views,” and “I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but hold her accountable.”
What is she apologizing for? Lying and pandering to a bigot? And what does it mean to give someone the benefit of the doubt but still hold her accountable? We've asked DeMaio what that means but haven't received a response.
While we wish DeMaio had not accepted Zapf's apology, we at least understand that civil rights is not his big issue; it's more important to him that fiscal conservatives get elected. Sanders is the bigger disappointment. For us, the peak of his stint as mayor was his principled and emotional stand—before an election—in favor of gay marriage. He has backed his words with action, testifying last year in a landmark legal battle on behalf of gay couples.
Lorie Zapf has shown herself to be ethically unfit for public office—whether or not she thinks gay people should be kept out of elected positions. At best, she's made it clear that she can't be trusted to be honest and that her judgment is, at the very least, suspect.
Socially moderate Republicans must take a stand against this type of behavior.
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