BY Neal Broverman

November 19 2009 6:30 PM ET

MATT SZABO MAIN X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COM

What is the most pressing problem in L.A. right now?
Without
question, the damage the recession has done to the city’s finances is
unprecedented, and it put into jeopardy every major critical service
that the city provides to its residents from the police officers to
firefighters. We are dealing now in a new reality. We don’t have the
luxury like the federal government has of printing money or borrowing
huge sums from China. We have to live within our means and the
recession has just ravaged our city finances in a way that's forcing us
to make very difficult decisions. For the past two years we haven't had
the opportunity to make good decisions anymore. We’re choosing between
bad and worse. We have no margin of error right now. And it’s critical
that every single dollar we spend is in the most judicious way
possible.

What recent city accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m
most proud of this mayor’s success in growing and diversifying the Los
Angeles Police Department. I’m even prouder he’s been able to maintain
the expanded department even while facing huge budget deficits.

Neither
Villaraigosa nor San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is running for
California governor next year. Will you support state attorney general
Jerry Brown?

I’m likely to support the Democratic nominee,
whoever he or she may be. As I understand it, right now there are no
declared candidates. But if Jerry Brown is the candidate, I’d be happy
to support him.

When do you think Proposition 8 should go back on the California ballot?
One
of the most disappointing consequences of Proposition 8’s victory in
November [2008] was the manner in which the gay community turned on itself in the aftermath. I believe strongly that this controversy over
whether we take it back to the ballot in 2010 or 2012 is a manufactured
controversy. I’ve been in politics for enough years to understand that
the notion that we’re guaranteed to win in one year or guaranteed to
lose in another is simply naïveté. It falls somewhere between novice naïveté and really malicious arrogance. As much as we would like, as
much as many in the gay community would like the campaign for marriage
equality to resemble a Prius commercial or an Obama YouTube video, we
can’t lose sight of the fact that winning marriage equality is
fundamentally about winning; it’s about getting one more vote than the
opposition. I believe there would be no greater tool for which we can
reach out to communities who currently don’t support marriage equality
than winning marriage equality. We won’t be able to convince people of
our position; people will have to come to that realization themselves
when they see close friends or relatives who are gay and married and
see that they're no threat to their marriage. I don’t think the
question should be when should we go back, the question should be when
can we win. And if we can win in 2010, we should go back in 2010. If we
can win in 2012, we should go back in 2012. That’s what we’re doing here — we’re trying to win equality.
I’m a little unsettled that there’s a divide by those who want to fight
for our rights now and those who want to fight for our rights later. I
think we’re all on the same team here and we’re going to reach out far,
far beyond the gay community if we’re ever going to achieve full
equality.









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