the unknowns

Did David Larson’s Ambiguity Over His Sexuality Kill His California City Council Campaign?

David Larson tried to join the city council of Roseville, the conservative Sacramento-area town in California that’s home to more than a hundred thousand, but ended up in fourth place out of six candidates for two open seats. Did his loss have anything to do with the fact he was outed?

An insurance company owner, Larson says he believes the “majority of Roseville residents are open, are tolerant.” Sure they are: sixty percent of them voted to ban gay marriage in 2008 by supporting Prop 8, compared to 52 percent overall. Larson snuck in under the gun with his partner Brad Simmons marrying during the brief window when gay marriage was legal.

None of which he apparently broadcast to potential voters, notes the Sacramento Bee.

Those who had personal dealings with him – including the City Council that named him a planning commissioner – knew [Larson is gay], but, preferring discretion in campaign materials, Larson referenced a “spouse” without disclosing gender.

That ambiguity ended early in his failed campaign when the local newspaper referred to his “spouse” as his “wife.” One online commenter quickly pointed out that Larson is married to a man, sparking a cyberspace debate on whether Larson deceived voters, had been forthright with the City Council, and whether his sexuality should be game for campaign fodder.

And then came the the rogue email campaign, labeling Larson a “homosexual activist,” which nobody took credit for.

“The fact that I’m gay is a very small part of my life,” says Larson. “I don’t flaunt, nor do I hide, that I am a gay man.” Leave it to the bloggers to insist it was Larson’s lack of candor that did him in.

Republican activist and blogger Aaron Park said some voters were likely turned off by how Larson handled the issue, but he said there likely weren’t enough to sway the election. He pointed out that the two most conservative candidates in the race, Sam Cannon and David Brown, also lost. “It wasn’t that David Larson is married to Brad,” Park said. “It was the fact that he tried to hide it.”

Damned if you do …