When I updated my post on Log Cabin member Mike Gin’s election as Mayor of Redondo Beach, I noted that I would have more to say on this as soon as my guests left town. Indeed, it seems that in my post on their visit, I expressed thoughts similar some of my thoughts on Mike’s election. Just like most people at Disneyland took my friends’ public display of their sexuality in stride, my sense is that most people in Redondo Beach took his sexuality in stride.
In a post on Mike’s election, BoifromTroy links to a column in the LATimes where Steve Lopez notes that when Mike campaigned for mayor, he listened to his would-be constituents and focused his campaign on items of concern to them such as “creative partnerships between the city and schools, public safety and well-managed growth.” The mayor-elect concluded that his election showed that his fellow citizens “judged me on my work and my service to the community and not on the basis of my sexual orientation.” He pointed out that his sexuality is “not the type of thing that I wear on my sleeve.”
This seems another sign of the basic tolerance of the American people. In urban and most suburban areas, most voters could care less about a candidate’s sexual orientation. They’re paying more attention to how the candidate addresses issues of concern to them. Since Mike focused his campaign on such issues, he won a big victory.
Indeed, it seems that the side that makes an issue of a candidate’s sexuality is the side that loses in the end. In the final days of the campaign, the California Republican Assembly sent a mailer out to 6,000 voters in the city attacking Gin and linking him to “national gay rights groups”
If the reaction of citizens of Redondo Beach was like that of Republicans in Arlington County to GOP-backed County Board candidate Amy Jones-Baskaran’s mailer in the 1997 elections making an issue of the sexuality of Jay Fisette, her openly gay opponent, it’s no wonder Mike racked up such a big margin. When some Republicans received her flyers, they called County GOP headquarters to condemn her last-minute tactics. (Indeed, a handful even stormed into the HQ angrily waving the offensive mailer.) Many Arlington Republicans, including myself, refused to vote for her. She was the only Republican running in South Arlington who failed to carry a single precinct there. Her gay-bashing tactics backfired.
Shortly after the campaign, an Arlington Democrat told me that the reason Jay had won in 1997 but not in 1993 (when he lost in a special election) was that in 1993, he had run as a gay activist, but in 1997, he ran as a civic activist. In other words, the year he made sexuality the focus of his campaign, he lost, but when his opponent made an issue of it, he won. As long as he addressed the concerns of his fellow citizens, his sexuality became a non-issue. Like Mike last week in Redondo Beach, Jay gave his fellow citizens something to vote for. In their victorious campaigns, neither candidate made an issue of his sexuality. Each ran as most candidates run for local offices, as citizens concerned about the welfare of their communities.
What Mike’s victory really shows — just like Jay’s victory showed nearly eight years ago — is that most voters really don’t care about a candidate’s sexuality. And that if anything, attempts to make an issue of a gay candidate’s sexuality will only serve to drive voters away from his opponent. Voters may not yet be ready to accept gay marriage, but even Republicans in suburban areas have shown little tolerance for gay-bashing. People are generally more interested in a candidate’s commitment to issues of concern to his constituency than to his sexual orientation or other qualities irrelevant to his ability to serve.
I believe that Mike Gin’s election will prove to be a good thing for the citizens of Redondo Beach. And this election says a good thing about his fellow citizens — perhaps even a good thing about all Americans as the election appears to be a part of a trend in American politics, where voters see a candidate’s sexual orientation as just one of his many attributes.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com