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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 31 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 35
A voice for equality in Tampa
Section One
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A voice for equality in Tampa

Republican mayor runs pro-equality TV ad during GOP convention

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Republican mayor of San Diego aired a TV spot for equal marriage rights during the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week.

In the ad, which will not be shown in the Seattle market, Mayor Jerry Sanders looks directly into the camera as he urges Republicans to support equal marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples and the principle of limited government.

'In 2007, I announced my support for marriage equality for two reasons - family and freedom,' says Sanders in the ad. 'Marriage strengthens families and we need more of that in this country, not less.'

Sanders also mentions other prominent Republicans, such as Dick and Lynne Cheney, Laura Bush, and Cindy McCain, who have announced their support for same-sex marriage.

HRC and Freedom to Marry paid $30,000 to air the spot, which ran August 27-30 only in the Tampa market.

'Republicans talk about values such as freedom, limited government, and personal responsibility, values that support the freedom to marry,' said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry.

'Our ad showcases Republicans who are living up to the values they proclaim, pointing the way for the party to get with the majority of Americans and on the right side of history.'

Sanders was elected mayor in 2005. On September 19, 2007, he abruptly reversed his public opposition to marriage equality by signing a San Diego City Council resolution against the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

In an emotional speech, Sanders explained that he could not tell his Lesbian daughter, Lisa, that her relationship with a partner is not as important as that of a straight couple. He had 'decided to lead with my heart,' he said at the time, 'to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice.'

DISSENTING DELEGATES
While the Republican Party platform is uniformly hostile to LGBT rights, some convention delegates have spoken out for equality.

Barbara Ann Fenton of Rhode Island made a formal motion to add support for same-sex civil unions to the GOP platform.

'As a Roman Catholic, there's nobody in this room who believes more than I do that the definition of marriage is between one man and one woman, but those are my religious beliefs,' Fenton said as she made the motion Monday. 'This country was founded on the separation of church and state.'

She added, 'For my own generation, a lot of times homosexuality is not the biggest deal in the world. And that's OK.'

Themis Klarides, a Connecticut state representative, was one of the delegates who seconded Fenton's motion.

'I'm from New England, where support for Gay couples is really old news,' Klarides told CNN.

In 2005, Connecticut became the first state to pass a civil unions law for same-sex couples. She voted in favor of the bill several times until it passed.

'This speaks to the heart of what Republicans believe in - less government interference in our lives,' Klarides said. 'We want our party to focus on growth and the economy and allowing us to thrive as a people, not on telling people what they should do in our private lives.'

Fenton told CNN she had only one disturbing run-in after the platform meeting.

'One person did come up and tell me I should renounce my Catholicism - that what I was spewing was pure evil,' Fenton said. 'It was hard to keep a straight face.'

But for the most part, the reaction she received from other delegates and Republican staffers was positive, she said.

'People kept buying me drinks and kept coming up to me saying how they wanted to support my group for doing this. I don't have a group,' Fenton said. 'Some people asked me if I was Gay. I told them you could still be for Gay rights and be a heterosexual. I don't think that's political suicide. If it were, I wouldn't be a part of this party.

'One guy even dropped a note in my lap, ' Fenton added. 'I thought I was going to get bashed with some nasty note, like you'd get in fifth grade. But what it said essentially was, 'I'm in the closet. Thank you so much for this.'

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