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The news you need to know this week: Herrera takes some flak, but pushes right back, while property interests reveal their support for Prop. E

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"WTF, Chronicle?": LGBT community leaders express support for Dennis Herrera


HERRERA HIT BACKFIRES

Herrera was also the target of another attack on his LGBT credentials last week, this one by the San Francisco Chronicle, which ran a front page story on Oct. 26 in which anonymous sources said he raised doubts in private City Hall meetings about San Francisco's decision to issue same-sex marriage licenses in 2004. It was entitled, "Fight turns ugly to win gay votes in mayor's race."

Despite trying to couch the hit in passive language, writing that " a surprise issue has emerged" based on accusations "leveled by several members of former Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration," it was clear that it was the Chron that made it an issue, for which the newspaper was denounced by leaders of the LGBT community from across the political spectrum at a rally the next day.

"Those who are saying this now anonymously are as cowardly as Dennis and Gavin were courageous back then," said Deputy City Attorney Theresa Stewart, the lead attorney who defended San Francisco's decision in 2004 to unilaterally issue marriage licenses to same-sax couples, in defiance of state and federal law, which eventually led to the legalizing of such unions. "We can't have our community turn on us for petty political gain."

"WTF, Chronicle?" was how Assemblymember Tom Ammiano began his speech, going on to lay blame for the attack on surrogates for Mayor Ed Lee. Ammiano also called out the mayor for campaign finance violations by his supporters, for undermining the Healthy San Francisco program that was created by Ammiano's legislation, and for repeatedly ordering police raids on the OccupySF encampment.

"How about some fucking leadership?!" Ammiano said.

Cleve Jones, an early gay rights leader who marched with Harvey Milk, also denounced Lee and his supporters for cronyism, vote tampering, money laundering, and the "fake grassroots" efforts of the various well-funded independent expenditure campaigns, which he said have fooled the Chronicle.

"To the Chronicle and that reporter — really? — this is what you do two weeks before the election? You should be ashamed of yourself," Jones said. "How stupid do you think we are?"

Yet Chronicle City Editor Audrey Cooper defended the article. "Clearly, I disagree [with the criticisms]," she told the Guardian. "I personally vetted every one of the sources and I'm confident everything we printed is true." She also tried to cast the article as something other than a political attack, saying it was about an issue of interest to the LGBT community, but no LGBT leaders have stepped up to defend the paper.

Beyond criticizing the obvious political motivations behind the attack, speakers at the rally called the article bad journalism and said it was simply untrue to suggest that Herrera didn't strongly support the effort to legalize same-sex marriage from the beginning.

"I can tell you that Dennis never once shrank from this fight. I was there, I know," Stewart said, calling Herrera "a straight ally who's devoted his heart and soul to this community."

Sen. Mark Leno, who introduced the first bill legalizing same-sex marriage to clear the Legislature, emphasized that he isn't endorsing any candidates for mayor and that he didn't want to comment on the details of the article's allegations. But he noted that even within the LGBT community, there were differences of opinion over the right timing and tactics for pushing the issue, and that Herrera has been a leader of the fight for marriage equality since the beginning.

"I am here to speak in defense of the character and integrity of our city attorney, Dennis Herrera," Leno said, later adding, "I do not appreciate when the battle for our civil rights is used as a political football in the waning days of an election."

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