California legislature's LGBT caucus denounces recall

BY Advocate.com Editors

July 10 2003 11:00 PM ET

Speaking on the steps of the state capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, five legislators who make up California's Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus joined a growing number of prominent leaders--Democrat and Republican--who have denounced a recall campaign against Gov. Gray Davis. Describing it as costly, wasteful, and divisive, the legislators said the recall campaign threatens the progress made in the area of civil rights during the past five years. "This recall effort is an abuse of the electoral process and a clear effort to thwart the will of the voters," said openly lesbian assemblywoman Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego). "It is being used as a tool to divide California rather than bring our people together."

Kehoe said Governor Davis has shown "courage and leadership" in his support of civil and political rights for all Californians, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. She contrasted Davis's record with that of the recall's primary financial backer, conservative congressman Darrell Issa (R-San Diego), who seeks to replace Davis as governor. In his failed bid for a senate seat in 1998, Issa engaged in what the Log Cabin Republicans (an organization representing gay conservatives) deemed "gay-bashing," Kehoe said. He also was backed by Gary Bauer and James Dobson, two notoriously antigay far-right leaders, she said. "If Darrell Issa or Arnold Schwarzenegger become governor, all the progress we've made will be 'terminated,' " Kehoe said.

Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) noted that the recall itself could become a political weapon of mass destruction to be used against any politician whose poll numbers drop too low. "If you open this door, you will never be able to close it again," Goldberg said.

"It will become a way of life. It is possible that as little as 3% of registered voters in California could choose the next governor under the winner-take-all recall approach," added openly gay assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). "If that's not an assault on our democratic process, I don't know what is."

Earlier this week recall campaign leaders announced they had enough signatures to put the recall question on the ballot. If those signature are ratified in time, voters--who, a recent poll says, slightly favor a recall of Davis--could be asked as early as November if Davis should go, and they would also be asked to pick a new governor. The process would likely cost California taxpayers about $25 million.

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