Man, what a bizarro world we live in under the Trump presidency when a Democrat is yelling at gay men who are volunteering on a political campaign, and Republicans are demanding an apology and whining they don’t have safe spaces to be their nasty, harassing selves anymore!
Yet that’s exactly the situation that arose this month after a viral video showed Democratic Party of Orange County North OC Vice Chair Jeff LeTourneau yelling at gay GOPers in Fullerton. They were trying to convince voters at a Fullerton Wal-Mart to recall State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) because…well, the GOP says Newman was the deciding vote on that stupid gas tax the California State Legislature just passed, but everyone knows it’s happening because the 29th District is perhaps the purplest in California and California Republicans are desperate for any sort of victory in Aztlán these days.
Here’s the tape:
Conservative media nationwide has huffed about it ever since, and the video even made FOX News. The subsequent uproar led OC GOP chair Fred Whitaker last Friday to call for LeTourneau’s resignation, and for the DPOC and Newman to condemn LeTournea’s “vicious tirade,” he said in a press release. “As a community, we must stand together and oppose this kind of intimidation—it has no place in civil society.”
Triggered! Of course, the wackjob press or Whitaker didn’t give any context whatsoever: that LeTourneau is a legendary gay activist in Orange County, that he’s faced off against OC troglodytes for decades, and that he was the inspiration for the quote most associated with Bob “B1 Baboso” Dornan—”Shut up, fag!” even though it was Dorna’s wife who said it during a town hall.
Was LeTourneau a bit rude? Sure, but he still came off as genteel compared to the OC GOP’s nasty politicians and volunteers. And that has been his stance, as can be seen in the comments he made to the DPOC earlier this month explaining the spat, which he generously provided to the Weekly in its entirety.
Good Evening, members of the DPOC and guests. As Fran mentioned, I would like to take a few moments to address the incident that occurred on Saturday, June 10 th at the WalMart on Orangethorpe in Fullerton. In order to fully address the situation, I need to spend a few moments to explain, who I am and how we got to this place. I know I have traveled this journey with many of you for several years, and in some cases more than 2 decades, but to others including the press, they know not who I am.
Since the day when I was elected at 18yo, over 40 years ago as the largest vote getter in the DeKalb County IL Democratic Central Committee, though my nearly a decade representing thousands of Disney workers with HERE Local 681, my run for Congress against Bob Dornan before Loretta won that seat, through the 15 years as the Chair or Political Director for ECCO, the Elections Committee of the county of Orange, where I was largely responsible for raising nearly 2 million dollars, almost all of which went to support Democratic Candidates as well as efforts to oppose the many devastating and evil ballot proposals of the time such as Props 64, 69 102 22 and others, Propostions that called for criminalization and quarantine of people with AIDS, and through my years serving a Vice Chair of the Center OC and as a Boardmember of AIDS Walk OC and Life AIDS Lobby, the predecessor to Equality California, and finally during my last 6 years of service on the DPOC Central Committee and as State E board Member…I have always….ALWAYS worked tirelessly to promote the very honored positions on Social, Economic and Environmental Justice that are outlined in the Democratic Party Platform. During these years, I have attended many chicken dinners and fundraisers, but I have also marched all over the country, been beaten by police and protestors alike, gone to jail for Civil Disobedience and had my safety and life threatened on more occasions than I can remember.
But in order to fully understand the incidents in question, I need to also remind you of what the 80s and 90s were like in OC. This was the most conservative Republican held political powerhouse in the nation and the vicious political hostility toward the lgbtq community, perpetrated each and every day from the likes of Bob Dornan- Bill Dannemeir, Gil Ferguson, and Lou Sheldon of the Anaheim based Traditional Values Coalition, were almost to horrific to believe. Anyone could be evicted or fired for being Gay or having the HIV virus. Hospitals refused to accept and treat AID Patients. Insurers refused to issue health policies and yes even mortuarys refused to bury our dead. And all along the Republican Party and its officeholders did nothing, or worse, viciously opposed any Democratic Party efforts at reform.
So with this background in mind, let me jump ahead to the date in question. As I was driving to attend the 72nd Alliance Flag Day celebration honoring our military veterans as well as the many deserving award recipients, and while wearing my DPOC name badge, a rainbow ribbon and an Orange County Democrat pin, I received a call from a Central Committee member who was volunteering at the location on the part of the Newman Decline To Sign campaign. Jeff, he said…[former San Diego mayor] Carl Demaio is here, he is telling everyone the he is Gay and that the LGBTQ community as well as his “Good Friend” Lesbian former Assembly Speaker and now State Senator Toni Adkins supports the recall. Jeff he said, we need your help, please come here. Now I need to tell you that at that point, although others probably knew, I had no clue that Carl DeMaio was Gay.
So, I turned my car around and headed to Fullerton. As I approached the table, and as I didn’t know who was who, I asked who is the gay one, Carl stated he was gay and pointed to another person who he introduced as his husband. This man who was wearing a body cam went on to say that he ran the San Diego GL Times. At this point I proceeded to call them on each of the main points of the Decline To Sign campaign: That they were from outside the District, that they were paid staff and not volunteers and that they were intentionally lying to people about what they were signing. As the moments progressed, and as the thought of this evil being perpetrated in the name of the community that I had spent a lifetime defending, both my demeanor and language became heated and the words I used and the manner in which they were delivered became inappropriate. And it is for this behavior, for which I fully and unconditionally accept responsibility, that I offer my sincere and heartfelt apology. My actions in the heat of anger, although only words, caused much embarrassment to many of the people in this room and to many other Democrats who watched the viral feed as it proliferated on the next few days in a well orchestrated media campaign. It should be obvious to all who know me, that If I could, I would take back my actions and conduct myself in a more calm and professional manner.
In closing, let me just say what this recall, should it be successful, would mean to me. Not only would it unseat my friend and great public servant Senator Josh Newman, but it would eliminate the historic 3/4 majority that would finally allow so many of the previously unattainable items we as Democrats have fought for for so long. Those include full equality for the lgbtq community thus providing a singularly unique place of refuge for those across this nation who are under ruthless attack by state govts and the Trump administration. To have that happen , largely due to the efforts of two gay men who belong to a Political party that has enshrined the oppression of virtually all marginalized communities in California into its by laws in untenable to me, and it will cause me to continue to work harder than ever to promote the Democratic Party and its ideals of strong progressive social justice reform.
As for Whitaker’s demand for resignation, LeTournea gave this exclusive quote to the Weekly:
As you are the Chairman of the OC Republican Party, a party that has waged a decades-long vicious attack on the OC lgbtq community at virtually every level, I suggest that you get your own house in order before interfering in the affairs of the Democratic Party. I remind you that your party has enshrined the oppression of virtually every marginalized community into its platform. When the Republican Party begins to treat all people with the dignity and respect that they deserve, perhaps then we can talk.