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Not Just a Union Buster: Why Some of the Nation’s Most Vociferously Anti-Gay Religious Activists Are Backing California's Prop 32

Although it is not widely seen as a “gay issue,” Prop. 32’s passage could have far-reaching consequences for California’s gays and lesbians.

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For more than a decade, the Family Action PAC has routinely funneled money to  anti-gay conservative politicians across the state of California, including Orange County State Assemblyman  Allan Mansoor, whom Smith recently praised as “an effective voice for conservative values.”

Mansoor caught the attention of LGBT activists when he ran for a  Costa Mesa city councilseat in 2002 by posting homophobic comments and articles on the message boards of the website Concerned Costa Mesa Citizens. He also supports the claim that homosexual men commit acts of sexual child molestation at a disproportionately high rate.

Recently, Smith came out as an opponent of this year’s Assembly Joint Resolution 43 – otherwise known as the LGBTQ Bill of Rights. Proposed by Bell Gardens Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, the resolution urged Congress and President Obama to extend California’s robust LBGT civil rights protections against bullying, harassment in the workplace, and discrimination in pay, loan opportunities, housing, hiring and family leave, to gay and lesbians across the country.

“The California Legislature spends their time on trivia instead of dealing with the major problems that the state has,” Smith complained of AJR 43 to  Onenewsnow.com. “And it also tells you how the special interests control the California Legislature.”

Smith’s definition of gay rights as a “special interest” should tell LGBT-rights supporters all they need to know about Prop. 32–whose website explicitly advocates “taking back California by reducing the influence of Special Interests across the board.”

LGBT activist Robin Tyler, an original plaintiff in the California Marriage Equality case and a member of the first lesbian couple to be legally married in California, sees Prop. 32 in the same vein as Prop. 8, and thinks its passage would have disastrous effects on the marriage equality movement in California.

“Prop. 32 is another glaring example of why Californians are being fooled into thinking that if they voted for stopping ‘special interests,’ they will be voting in their own favor,” she says. “Like Prop. 8, which misled the public who voted ‘Yes’ into thinking they were protecting their children, Prop. 32 once again misleads the public into thinking they are protecting themselves.”

Reached by phone, Larry T. Smith had “no comment at this time” on Tyler’s remarks or anything having to do with Prop. 32.

Should Prop. 32 pass, Smith, Ahmanson and their compatriots will undoubtedly continue pushing their religious, anti-gay agenda on the state of California and beyond.

“This is not just about California,” says the Courage Campaign’s Jacobs. “Labor communities have been very supportive of LGBT rights in the workplace and in the political space. They are reliable allies. If 32 passes, California’s 2.5 million unionized workers won’t be able to contribute their money for political purposes out of state either. The next time there’s a fight in Washington over the Defense of Marriage Act, for instance, labor has less capacity to join us. California is a donor state. The whole chain is interrupted.”

Matt Fleischer is an award-winning investigative journalist, a former LA Weekly staff writer, and an editor at FishbowlLA.

 
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