Guest Editorial
Will realtor’s group ZAPF bad endorsement?
Published Thursday, 26-Aug-2010 in issue 1183
Editor's note: This touching editorial was going to be a column, however as an editor I realized that this was more…This shows that every one has the choice and chance to educate and influence. Indeed it is the small interactions that change the world and people. In that regard we all can be and are activists.
Like Lucille Ball after any number of harebrained schemes gone awry, The San Diego Association of Realtors (SDAR) “has some ‘splainin’ to do” over its recent endorsement in the Sixth District San Diego City Council race of on-the-record mega-hater Lorie Zapf.
As reported by SD Citybeat reporter Justin MacLachlan on March 9, 2010, Republican Zapf’s opinions range from goofy to illegal given the protected status of GLBT Californians. Here are excerpts from emails she wrote to notorious “ex-gay” James Hartline.
“I absolutely want to keep homosexuals out of public office and not be allowed to influence our schools, textbooks, altering marriage, children and on and on.”
“...I do believe homosexuality is a sin. I have three homosexual first cousins. I love them all and would ‘be seen’ in a photo with them. I believe they all live in sin and frankly all are very unhappy people and had horrible childhoods as well. “
“...for whatever reason God allowed people to choose homosexuality. So there must be a reason for it, although I don’t get it, like so may (sic) other things that don’t make sense.”
I’ve commented in this column on the recent progress made in organized real estate on GLBT issues. Indeed, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is due to modify its Code of Ethics to include protections for GLBT homeowners, buyers and tenants this fall. This action comes in advance of any federal mandate to do so, making our community the first minority group to be included in NAR’s guiding principles before enactment of similar federal regulations. Quite an accomplishment for those spearheading the process including NAGLREP (National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals) and the Wisconsin Association of Realtors. NAR with its million-plus membership is a frequent visitor to the SD Convention Center for its huge annual meeting.
So what happened at SDAR? According to SDAR’s immediate past-President (and straight ally), Erik Weichelt of Weichert Elite, Realtors, Inc., SDAR’s selection committee doesn’t routinely look beyond a candidate’s real estate-related positions. Perhaps they should.
Apparently, things have changed in the 15 years since another great straight ally Caryl Iseman, Broker-associate at ARG Abbott Realty Group and I co-chaired SDAR’s Governmental Affairs operation. Back then, the questions candidates faced were indeed limited to real estate and business matters. Our research was not. Letting a Zapf-like candidate garner our endorsement in those days would have been a serious dereliction of our duties.
I was tipped-off about Zapf’s open bigotry by another straight super-ally former 6th District Councilwoman Valerie Stallings. Valerie represented the district for 11 years. Old friends, she and I are now neighbors downtown and last Thursday I convinced her to help me clean out my refrigerator.(Yes, okay, by helping me empty a bottle of Pinot Grigio.) I sliced up some just-arrived fresh Harry and David peaches sent my way by Realtor-extraordinaire Jo Marr, Broker-associate at Woods Real Estate Services. Valerie suggested I join her at Howard Wayne’s (Zapf’s opponent) fundraising breakfast (Hell, yes!) and she casually remarked about Zapf and her opinions on “The Gay” to coin our favorite Rachel Maddow term.
Being a wine lightweight and having much to catch up on with my old friend, including her recent magical and heartwarming trip to Maine, I thought nothing more of it until Friday afternoon, when I suddenly recalled the recent disagreeable money solicitation Zapf inflicted upon me. Having not yet seen her hater-stripes, I politely confessed that I had already endorsed a competitor to which she snapped, “I guess you really don’t care about your business, do you?” Before I could advise this total stranger of my 25 years as an agent/broker and of my years of volunteer service to the profession, she showed me… by hanging up. I guess Zapf’s skin is as thin as her qualifications.
SDAR’s leadership must rescind Zapf’s endorsement. The Realtor imprimatur cannot be applied to a candidate who hasn’t the faintest notion of equality, especially when a strict Code of Ethics and a commitment to Equal Housing Opportunity guide everything we do as Realtors.
To SDAR’s credit, its leadership has convened an emergency meeting of its Executive Committee as a first step towards rescinding Zapf’s endorsement. This is admirable and I look forward to a favorable outcome. The debacle exposes serious defects in the way this very large and normally gay-friendly trade association operates. I hear changes will be made.
Like Lucy though, the only sound I’d love to hear from Zapf is the telltale “wah-wah-wah” of her November defeat. In addition, perhaps SDAR will get serious and sharpen its political act, because right now it is as if the Keystone Cops crashed a paddy wagon into a KKK all-nighter and then mismanaged the ensuing 2-car funeral. Aargh!
I urge you to weigh in on this by contacting our very good allies at SDAR: CEO Mike Mercurio at mmercurio@sdar.com or SDAR President Mark Marquez at markm@weichertelite.com.
Jim Abbott is the President/Managing Broker of ARG Abbott Realty Group and has worked in the field since 1985. He serves on the board of the National Assn of GL Real Estate Professionals and is a past director of both the California and San Diego Assns of Realtors. He is SDARs senior Director at Sandicor – the regional MLS for San Diego County and has previously served on the board of Equality California and as Library Commissioner for the City of San Diego. Contact Jim at info@argsd.com or call 619-234-3995.

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