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Sep 13, 2010: Just Who is this "Abel Maldonado" Clown, Anyway?
It's a name you might not recognize if you're not a political wonk, but his anti-gay crusade could spell disaster for California's LGBTs.
Maldonado is California's current Lieutenant Governor. It's a relatively low-profile job: he basically just has to look busy in case anyone asks whether the office should even exist. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano called it "a weenie office," which sounds fun.
But Maldonado has one other interesting responsibility: when the Governor (which is still Arnold) is out of town, the Lieutenant Governor takes over. Usually, acting politicians don't do anything too far out of step from the politician whose chair they're keeping warm. Two notable exceptions: in 2003, Supervisor Chris Daly circumvented Willie Brown's political patronage system to appoint commissioners who were actually qualified; and in 1979, Lieutenant Governor Mike Curb appointed a judge while Governor Jerry Brown was busy running for President.
And here's where Maldonado has a chance to really do some damage. A group of "conservative leaders" -- it's unclear who, exactly, they are, other than that they're backed by the obsessively homophobic Capitol Resource Institute -- want Maldonado to take advantage of Arnold's absence by appealing Judge Walker's finding that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.
If these shadowy "conservative leaders" can get Maldonado to act, it could breathe new life into the marriage ban. That seems unlikely to happen, since the deadline for Maldonado to appeal is today and he's pretty busy making political hay out of the San Bruno disaster. But stranger things have happened.
So what about Maldonado? Who is he, where does he stand, and does he get his kicks beating up gay couples?
He's on record as being a big fan of Prop 8. He voted against recognizing out-of-state marriages. He was against Harvey Milk Day (then changed his mind after the movie came out). He opposed anti-discrimination laws. He opposed new birth certificates for gender-change recipients. He opposed LGBT sensitivity training for nurses. He opposed allowing LGBT couples to transfer property. He's in favor of kicking gays out of the army. He even opposed domestic violence services for LGBT victims. The list goes on and on and on and on.
And here's the crazy part: the anti-gays often say "why can't you just be content with domestic partnerships? They're the same as marriage except for the name." But Maldonado has repeatedly voted to strip rights and responsibilities away from domestic partnerships.
This November, California voters will decide whether Maldonado should keep his job. His opponent in the race for the Lieutenant Governor's office: San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.
Now, I'm not saying that all LGBTs owe Newsom our undying fealty and obedience. But over the last five years, Maldonado has consistently moved to prevent gay couples from accessing legal protections. The least that the LGBT community can do is show our thanks by restricting his access to the Lieutenant Governor's office.
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