Irvine Council will vote on Flying the Pride Flag Tonight

Gay Pride, Marriage Equality
Gay Pride, Marriage Equality

While this blog has spent some time on the outrageous attempts to give Assistant City Manager Mariana Marysheva what is now a 9% raise (nearly $21K) while in the midst of a budget shortfall where city staff gets basically nothing, there’s another important event on the agenda — flying the Pride Flag at City Hall.

To be honest, I expect this to be a 5-0 vote for approving Council Member Melissa Fox’s motion to fly the flag now and every year from late May until the end of June.

I don’t think it’s hard to get to two votes; where is the third vote coming from?  New council member Mike Carroll should vote for it; his wife is an IUSD trustee up for election in 2 years so a “no” vote from him is going to throw shade on her.  He commented on a social media post recently that Council member Farrah Khan wrote about helping a stranded motorist, praising Khan for making Irvine a “community.”  So in that spirit, he should be voting yes is he truly believes Irvine is a community and not just a city.

Anthony Kuo should vote yes, but he is known to take the lead from Republican overlords in the county who have fought this sort of thing every step of the way.  He’s a coin flip.  I wouldn’t be surprised on his vote regardless of which way it goes.

The one to watch here is Mayor Christina Shea.  It’s been 30 years since she rose to power on the back of Measure N, which sought to discriminate against the LGBTQ community in Irvine.  To my knowledge, she’s never publicly apologized for her comments or actions stemming from her work on that ballot measure. And if she has, please leave a reference to it in the comments of this post.

This is from a 1989 LA Times article about the Irvine Values Coalition that described Shea as a “champion” for that cause.

“Along with her husband, Michael, a carwash developer, and architect Scott Peotter, Christina spearheaded the divisive Measure N–an initiative removing homosexuals’ protections against discrimination–whose victory has rocked the liberal-led city of Irvine.

While Peotter was president and Michael Shea was spokesman, Christina was campaign manager for the Irvine Values Coalition, the 350-member group that successfully removed protection for homosexuals from the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

Christina did most of the work and took most of the flak in the bitter 18-month campaign that produced smear charges from both sides and ended in a narrow 6% margin. She also is emerging as the most likely of the three to use the current momentum as a political springboard in what most observers predict will be a continuing debate.

Shea acknowledged that the divisive campaign “was a real bad thing for our community, in a way.” But she and Michael, evangelical Christians who have a homosexual relative, said it was worth it in the long run. “We have chaos in our society if you don’t judge people on their behavior,” Shea said. “It bothers me when people don’t take stands.”

Last year, Michael ran unsuccessfully for City Council, promising to fight the city’s Human Rights Ordinance on the basis that homosexuals should not be given legal protection “in a family community,” and that extra laws are not needed.

Two weeks after his defeat, he and Christina spoke at a public hearing against the ordinance and met like-minded fellow residents, who later organized to qualify an initiative for the ballot to repeal protection for homosexuals. Eventually, they contributed $5,000 to the battle.

Michael said he was moved to fight minority status for homosexuals partly because of his homosexual relative. “We love him very much. We don’t happen to agree with that life style,” he said.

“Most of your minorities are unchangeable and morally neutral. We felt homosexuals, in my opinion and Christina’s opinion, are neither unchangeable nor morally neutral. . . .

“If you give minority status to behavior-based life styles, you open up a Pandora’s box–to smokers, drinkers, neo-Nazis if you will.”

Consulting with anti-gay leaders such as Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) and Oregon activists who had opposed an executive order allowing homosexuals to become foster parents, the Irvine Values Coalition plotted a strategy that focused on homosexuality and included graphic depictions of extreme behavior.

“We tried to show we were normal people. I’m a mom with three kids and I don’t want gay pride festivals or public sex in bathrooms in my city,” Christina said.

This is Shea’s opportunity to apologize for three decades of silence with her vote to approve letting the Pride flag fly in Irvine while she’s mayor.

It’s never too late to do the right thing.