DeMaio has been notoriously quiet on LGBT issues and has accepted campaign donations from supporters of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. While former Mayor Jerry Sanders campaigned aggressively against Prop 8 four years ago, DeMaio reained silent on the issue as he ran for City Council in a conservative district. Though DeMaio has since stated his support for gay marriage, he has insisted that gay rights would not be a priority as mayor.
“I’m proud of San Diego that sexual orientation has not played an issue in this race,” DeMaio told The New York Times. “I’ve been running on fiscal reforms and prosperity to create jobs. That’s the agenda that I think has brought so many diverse groups together.”
But for the queer community in San Diego, it is an issue. DeMaio was booed at a debate at the city’s LGBT center and he and his partner were booed as they walked hand-in-hand at this year’s pride parade. While DeMaio claims that only a small minority of gay voters are so vocally opposed to him, the nonpartisan Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund has not endorsed him and even the Romney-loving Log Cabin Republicans initially endorsed another candidate.
Among conservatives, however, DeMaio is making major headway. “Carl’s been embraced by just about everyone,” said Tony Krvaric, chairman of San Diego’s Republican Party, which endorsed DeMaio over two other GOP candidates. “He has a lot in common with a lot of people on the fiscally conservative side.”
Filner, an outspoken gay rights advocate, has been pressing the gay issue in what has become an unsurprisingly bitter campaign. After criticizing DeMaio’s partner, the publisher of San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Filner was accused of trying to draw attention to his opponent’s homosexuality in order to dissuade the socially conservative from voting for him.
Nevertheless, many LGBT leaders have thrown their support behind Filner. “For Carl DeMaio to be elected mayor would not be a victory for gay and lesbian people,” said lesbian activist and organizer Linda Perine. “It would be a defeat.”
Photo: Rotary Club of La Jolla