Best Politician (2013)

Shawn Nelson

Thirty-five years ago, Orange County served as ground zero in homophobic madness when Fullerton state Senator John Briggs sponsored an ultimately losing proposition that banned from public schools not only gay and lesbian teachers, but also any teacher who believed in equality. Eleven years after the Briggs embarrassment, Fullerton Congressman William E. Dannemeyer threw decorum out the window and, as a ploy to increase hatred of gays, read into the Congressional Record his descriptions of homosexual sex acts. With that shameful backdrop, fast-forward to this year, when Shawn Nelson, Fullerton's county supervisor, brought his hometown officially out of the Dark Ages. Nelson, who—as were Briggs and Dannemeyer—is a conservative Republican, successfully got his all Republican colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to finally approve an official county proclamation in honor of Briggs' nemesis: Harvey Milk, the assassinated San Francisco supervisor and first openly gay elected official in the United States. Sure, the victory was long overdue and symbolic, but there's no denying it underscores this is no longer your bigoted granddaddy's Orange County.


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