Does a leopard change its spots???
Published Thursday, 30-Sep-2010 in issue 1188
Lorie Zapf is not the first to claim that she has seen the errors of her homophobic ways. Political gain is a powerful motivator and a closer look at many candidates these days reveals a plethora of changed views and opinions.
Until recently only a few had much to say about Zapf and as someone who is running for a council seat together with a council member looking to run for mayor it seemed a good fit that DeMaio and Zapf join forces in the race for the GLBT and conservative vote.
Jonathan Hale, life partner of Carl Demaio and owner of Hale Media, Inc. producers of San Diego Gay & Lesbian News (SDGLN.com) and San Diego Pix Magazine (sdpix.com), recently ran an interview profiling Lorie Zapf. Ironically this interview never did include an apology to the community nor a sense of remorse; instead she was sorry about corresponding with James Hartline, an anti gay activist who she had been speaking to through email for some time.
While this subject might have never surfaced again it did when Zapf decided to run for city council and aligned herself with DeMaio, who is a gay republican. Zapf has described these small debacles as nothing more than just a hasty turn of events. For someone who is seeking GLBT support it is not without a hint of irony that she stated the following, as revealed by Justin McLachlan of CityBeat who broke the story : “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,” Taken from an email exchange Zapf wrote in 2006, obtained by McLachlan of CityBeat, between her and James Hartline, she went a step further in her anti gay speech to let Hartline know that she believed in what he was doing. “I like that you are trying to keep homosexuals and homosexual activists out of public office because we both know what the long term agenda is.” And later: “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.”
Zapf has also taken cheap shots at council member Donna Frye stating “We can only vote for the choices we have, and Donna Frye is an A.C.L.U. LIBERAL who is leading this city down the wrong path.” When Zapf realized that she would not be able to win the vote on an anti gay platform in a city that has many open gays and lesbians elected into local politics it is no wonder she has had such a drastic change of heart. That’s not even mentioning a Mayor who is beyond supportive of GLBT rights and rarely misses any large GLBT functions with his lesbian daughter and her wife.
What does that mean for us? It means she wants our support and vote, however she can, aligning herself with council member Carl DeMaio rumored to be the financial backer of the gay news service San Diego Gay & Lesbian News (SDGLN.com) and San Diego Pix Magazine (sdpix.com), owned by his partner Hale, for her own gain and he for his. We sought out the advice of a Licensed Psychotherapist, Michael Kimmel, to see what his thoughts were on this matter. Kimmel stated:
“A person’s views on minorities (e.g., prejudice against gays, Muslims, African-Americans) are typically a result of their upbringing and experiences. These views are usually quite ingrained and - although it’s possible they could change - it’s not very likely that that they would change quickly.
Changing a prejudice like homophobia is usually a long -term process that unfolds over time. The change process is usually instigated by a powerful experience that shows the individual that their prejudice/stereotype is false, e.g, if a gay couple moved in next door to a very homophobic guy and this guy eventually got to know them over time and found them to not be true to his stereotype/prejudice about LGBT people, this could help change his view on how he sees us.
When I read Ms. Zapf’s quote: ‘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...’ this struck me as typical of many people whose religion prejudices them against the LGBT community.
While I don’t know Ms. Zapf personally, this quote gives me the impression that there may be a deep rooted prejudice against the LGBT community that is typically unlikely to change quickly or easily.”
Pat Washington GLBT activist and African American had this to say about it.
In 2006, then-businesswoman Lorie Zapf “suggested gays are not fit for public office.” Today, it’s 2010 and candidate Lorie Zapf (candidate for San Diego City Council, District 6), has sharply reversed her position and her stand on the campaign trail is now “firmly believe that candidates and elected officials should be judged on their positions on the issues and their ability to do the job, not their sexual orientation.” Zapf now affirms that she will have an open door policy towards everyone and that she will look to LGBT elected officials and elected officials who are allies of the LGBT community for guidance on issues like marriage equality or ending the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a priority while in office.
Since I know a number of people who have sincerely changed their anti-gay posture over the years, even in my own family, I realized that it is quite possible that we weren’t getting “zapf’d” and this aspiring political leader could have truly had a change of heart. So, I looked for concrete evidence of the change of heart.
I just can’t find any evidence that Ms. Zapf isn’t doing anything more than taking advantage of our sometimes fatalistic willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt just because they “talk the talk.” In the years between 2006 and 2010, what has Ms. Zapf done to build goodwill and advance the full equality of LGBT San Diegans? I know from her own comments that she has gay people in her life, but how many has she employed? How often has she stood up for the rights of lesbians and gays to marry? Where has she made her mark on organizations that serve or represent LGBT individuals and families? Where’s the evidence of her change of heart that I can point to silence my own internal warnings that Zapf is nothing more than a savvy political opportunist who knows that she just has to mouth the words inclusion and open door policy to get District 6 voters to give her the benefit of the doubt too quickly?
With so much hanging in the balance for LBGT equality, can we really afford to risk Lorie Zapf winning in November? I don’t think so. Zapf’s verbal assurances that she has relinquished her anti-gay sentiments just in time to try to win election to San Diego City Council should give us caution, not a false sense of optimism about converted yet another homophobe to our side of the justice ledger.
While San Diego Gay & Lesbian News (SDGLN.com) did an interview with Zapf it was lackluster as far as apologies go or in the recognition of any sense of the magnitude of homophobia that she spewed. In the interview, conducted fondly enough by an unnamed staff reporter, the questions were tame and dodgy at best, leaving out the meat and potatoes of why she said those things and what caused her change of heart.
SDGLN: Will you make social issues, such as marriage equality or ending the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a priority while in office?
Lorie Zapf: My priorities will be in the areas where city government has a big role and lead responsibility, such as police and fire services, road repairs, and so on, where we are now failing. I will, however, be mindful of the social issues facing our residents and, where appropriate, I’ll be there for support and encouragement.
SDGLN: Let’s start with the fundamental question. Why are you running for San Diego City Council?
Lorie Zapf: I decided to take on the challenge of running for City Council because like many San Diegans I’m concerned about the direction our city is taking. We need to address the city’s financial problems first and foremost. We must also put our neighborhood services as our top priority. I’m also very concerned about our local economy and finding ways to help create and retain quality jobs in San Diego. These three issues – financial reform, neighborhood services and the economy – will be my top priorities if I am elected to the City Council in the November election.
What is more frightening than Zapf running for a city council position is that not only a gay person would endorse her but that a gay media outlet would have the guile to call her “An active leader in our community”, again by an unnamed staff reporter. With elections around the corner we need to take a closer look at who pops up just in time for a gay vote proclaiming they are no longer homophobic as they once were. We also must not accept our own community leaders “throwing us under the bus” for political and financial gain.
Zapf summed it up best by issuing the following statement when asked by SDGLN: If you are elected, how do you intend to work with the LGBT community here in San Diego?
Lorie Zapf: Mayor [Jerry] Sanders has done a good job reaching out and building relationships in the LGBT community. I’d rely on him for advice. I’d also reach out to LGBT elected officials to guide and advise me. [City Councilmember] Carl DeMaio and I are already working together on fiscal reform. Although I disagree with [City Councilmember] Todd Gloria on fiscal issues, he has been a champion of LGBT issues. There’s also [District Attorney] Bonnie Dumanis, [Solana Beach City Councilmember] David Roberts and a host of others in the County I can turn to.”
It seems as though if you can’t beat ’em join ’em will be Zapf’s platform.
As if throwing his political endorsement Zapf’s way weren’t enough DeMaio put on a fundraiser for Zapf at Jerome’s on Morena Blvd. Imagine what the early pioneers of the gay press and early leaders within our community would be saying.