1. Michael @ says

    Thank you Corey for the great interview, and both you & Andy for attending both the Arlington wreath laying and DADT Protest/Memorial in Congressional Cemetery.

    Video and pix of the latter including remarks by Dan, Frank Kameny, Troy Perry, David Mixner and others at

    I am so proud of Dan. He is tirelessly working his heart out to finally end the ban that Leonard first fought so long ago. For every appearance most read about, there are five or six others he’s made as he barnstorms the country to increase pressure on the President and Congress.

    Those joining him in the wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier [how perfect was his comment about how often LGBT servicemembers have been the unknowns?] were gay US Navy CAPT. Mike Rankin (RET), Annapolis (68), and Knights Out members former LT. Anthony Woods, who was discharged last year after outing himself and forced to repay a $35,000 Army scholarship, and former MAJ. Andrea Hollen, the first woman to graduate from West Point. The Tomb Sentinel announced the wreath as being from “Knights Out LGBT.” Though gays have placed a wreath here before, it was clearly the first time many attending had witnessed it and how much it moved them was palpable. A gay high school ROTC student drove all the way from New York to be there.

  2. John says

    There’s no better spokesman for repealing DADT than Dan Choi. He has done a spectacular job thus far.

    And while Anthony Woods’ campaign for Congress in California ended in failure, I hope he’s not discouraged by that setback. From what I’ve seen of him, he’s a very impressive young man. And defeat is a fact of life in politics. Maybe he should try for the state legislature first.

    The military is very foolish to let these highly skilled, dedicated professionals go.

  3. Ted says

    I would not be surprised to see Dan Choi in politics some day. I would be proud to vote for him.

  4. John says



    And I don’t think failure is really a negative. It depends on how you deal with losing. Ideally, it should be a learning experience. And good politicians bounce back stronger than ever. I think those who know the sting of defeat are also better leaders in the long run. Overconfidence is one of the reasons why we end up with so many “up and coming stars” going down in flames.

    In terms of aiming for the White House, it is an ambition many politicians have. It is a valid goal for those who believe they can do the job. But I think the point is to make a difference. From that perspective, surely Ted Kennedy didn’t really lose all that much to Jimmy Carter in 1980. President Carter went on to lose a general election and was remembered for what he didn’t do more than anything. Kennedy, meanwhile, became one of the most prolific legislators in American history.

    And Anthony Woods wouldn’t need to look far for proof that you can make a difference without the presidency. He probably flies out of Willie Brown’s “legacy” every month.

    Brown has never held a federal office. And he never once advocated moving on same-sex marriage in his 28 years as Majority Leader (1975-1980), Assembly Speaker (1980-1995), and then Mayor of San Francisco (1996-2004). Which, of course, makes him an “evil black homophobe” as far as some in the California LGBT community are concerned. But how many of those same people have used Willie’s transit systems, eaten hot dogs in Willie’s stadiums, or benefited from Willie’s social welfare programs?

    And while Brown wasn’t a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage, he was responsible for decriminalizing sodomy and the state-level ENDA. Argurably, two measures that did a lot more for gays and lesbians than a publicity stunt that resulted in thousands of invalid marriages. When all is said and done, he was probably the most effective state legislator California has ever had.

  5. Michael @ says

    Wow! TWO delusional breakdowns for the price of one: Wille Brown Was the Messiah; Gavin Newsom Is the Antichrist.

    Brown does deserve a lot of credit for some of what he did for LGBTs…and criticism for what he didn’t. As for that “publicity stunt” by Mr. Newsom…it resulted in 18,000 VALID marriages that occured after that “stunt” jump started the action on marriage equality that had come to a stop [save for wishful thinking] except in Massachusetts. The City’s lawsuit resulted in the state Supreme Court decision that permitted those marriages to take place before Prop 8 stopped any further ones [for now]. Even the Iowa court decision was built upon the language of the CA decision. That’s from ZERO to 18,000 and I dare you to find me one of those couples who thinks Gavin is the man you love to hate. Even with Prop 8 passing we’re functionally no worse off than we were before–the US Supreme Court is still going to have to legalize marriage equality nationally [repeal of federal DOMA alone would NOT do that and it’s folly to think Congress will do more than repeal in the next 10 years minimum].

    As for Anthony, having organized the wreath laying, I can tell you this:

    1. He no longer lives in the Bay Area, having taken a job with a nonprofit in DC, so “flying out of Willie Brown’s legacy” is now rare.

    2. No first time candidate running against the Lt. Governor who’s been a household name for 3 decades AND against a sitting state senator who garners that many votes has “failed” by any stretch of the imagination. He simply did not win the election while absolutely winning the admiration of everyone involved and firm ground upon which to launch any future campaign for whatever office.

    There are few such openings, and there are even fewer people with the combination of talents of Anthony Woods. His contributions to the LGBT community and America at large have just begun.

  6. John says

    Willie Brown was never ahead of the curve on gay rights. I never claimed otherwise. But he has other achievements. And he got the job done for California. Whether his motivations was “pure” or not is irrelevant.

    Brown took an interest in repealing the sodomy statute only because he wanted to overhaul all of the state’s antiquated laws regarding sexuality. At the time, California law did not allow fornication, adultery, and miscegenation (among other things). Brown figured he couldn’t get any of this to pass as standalone legislation because “sodomites would only vote to abolish sodomy; fornicators would only vote to abolish fornication; and adulterers would only vote to abolish adultery.” So he combined everything into an omnibus bill. It wasn’t his intention to help us. We just benefited from a general push towards liberalization.

    Brown did not appreciate Harvey Milk’s confrontational approach to homosexuality. In 1977, Willie was a member of the leadership team that allowed the state legislature to pass California’s first DOMA. It was subsequently signed into law by then Governor Jerry Brown. And as the Briggs initiative started to gather steam, he basically ignored Milk’s request for formal Democratic support.

    After the events of 1978, Brown ignored the gay issue whenever possible. It wasn’t until 1990 that the Speaker endorsed a state-level ENDA. After the original bill was vetoed by Pete Wilson, Brown worked out a “compromise” with the GOP governor that outraged gay activists. An exemption for companies affiliated with religious organizations was added. Penalties for not complying with the law were downgraded. References to the Uhruh Civil Rights Act – which dealt with housing and public services discrimination – were removed as well. These provisions wouldn’t be restored until the Schwarzenegger era. But ultimately, an ENDA was signed into law by Wilson. And it did protect over 90% of the workers in the state.

    As for family law, even today, Brown’s commitment to same-sex marriage is lukewarm at best. He says he has changed his mind since the 1977 vote. And he’s now sorta for it. But only if it doesn’t become a political liability for the party. When they asked him why the Democrats didn’t come out against Prop. 22 (2000) sooner, he responded tersely “because it was going to pass.”

    Nevertheless, the charges of homophobia against him are totally baseless. Not caring enough about a particular issue doesn’t make one a bigot. He never went out of his way to bash gays. And given how many political figures in California – and indeed America – behave in exactly the same way without nearly as much hate mail, I’d say there’s more to the anti-Willie vitriol within the San Francisco gay “community” than concern with his legislative priorities.