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07.16.08

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

When it comes to the gay marriage ban that is likely to be on state ballot in November, Mayor Chuck Reed is trapped in the closet. And that's exactly where local gay-rights advocates want him. Chuckles was caught off-guard during a water conference in San Francisco recently, when he was asked whether he plans to break his silence and take a stand on Proposition 8. Reed has made it known that he believes marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but the fact that both San Francisco and Oakland city mayors have shown their support for gay marriage has put Reed in the spotlight on the issue. "He has said he does not support gay marriage, he supports domestic partnerships, and he has voted that way a number of times," said Jeff Janssen, spokesman for the mayor. In 2004, while on the council, Reed voted against recognizing and supporting San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's move to marry gay couples. Janssen said that Reed probably won't take a position on the proposition as long as it's still being battled in the courts; opponents of the proposition have filed a lawsuit seeking to remove the initiative from the ballot. "Until it's on the ballot he won't pay attention to it," Janssen said. "If it is on the ballot, he will look at it and make a decision, but now it appears there's a good court fight as to whether it will make it to ballot." Members of the San Jose gay and lesbian community say it's better for Reed to remain neutral and not take a position at all rather than support the proposed ban. "He has made it clear to our community where he stands on this issue," said Aejaie Sellers, executive director of the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center. "The fact that he is not coming out is a neutral position; he is not mixing his politics and his personal beliefs, which is a good thing. We hope he remains neutral through this."


Can't Waite

Yes, it's hard to believe Christian conservative community leader Larry Pegram hasn't thrown his full support behind San Jose's Republican council candidate Pat Waite. But that doesn't mean Waite can go ahead and say that he did. Although Pegram has refused to endorse anyone, Waite went ahead and named Pegram as a key endorsement in an interview posted on his campaign website. Waite tells Fly he thought he called Pegram a "supporter" during the May interview—after all, Pegram has given him campaign advice and introduced him to key community players. "If that's the way it was worded, I'll have to check," said Waite, who is running against Democrat Rose Herrera for the District 8 council seat. "Larry's been a great supporter, but he's skittish about endorsements." That being said, even Pegram could see how Waite made the slip-up. Besides the fact that the two share similar conservative views, such as not supporting gay marriage, Waite is also a member of Pegram's Christian group, Values Advocacy Council. "We've had him as a guest speaker at a number of organization events and he is a member of our organization," Pegram said. Still, fair is fair. "I need to get him to clarify that we have not endorsed him," he said.


Watch Your Head

Assemblyman Jim Beall isn't much of a beer drinker, so his proposal to jack the price of a six-pack won't affect him. Brew lovers, on the other hand, may get frothy if Beall's proposed beer tax increase plan is approved by the legislature and state voters. The tax, which is currently 2 cents per 12-ounce can and would likely increase by 15 cents, hasn't been raised since 1991. Beall, who heads the Assembly Select Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, is confident that he's got the support among his constituents to move on the plan, which he will bring to the Legislature this month. He conducted an unscientific survey on his website, where 53 percent said they would like to see a 33 cent tax increase on 12-ounce cans of beer. Providing the counterpoint outside Beall's San Jose office in April was a regiment of college kids protesting the plan. They swore they'd be back if Beall went forward with it, but so far, he hasn't heard a peep from them. "I think they did it for their Facebook," Beall says. "It was a one-time occurrence."


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