Rally held over mayor's comments on gays

December 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There was a showdown Tuesday night at Vallejo City Hall. At the center of the storm was Mayor Osby Davis who made comments about gay people to the New York Times.

The tension with the gay community there has simmered for a while, but it boiled over with the mayor's comments in the paper.

About 250 people on each side engaged in a passionate debate.

When members of Vallejo's faith-based community heard about the protest against Davis, they packed the council chambers to support him.

"We know how to work together with one another, but we may not agree on everything," said Pastor Terrence Nichols from the New Hope Church.

Outside, members of the gay community and their supporters chastised the mayor for his comments in a recent New York Times article.

When asked about gays, he said, "They're committing sin and that sin will keep them out of heaven."

"He's speaking in official capacity that embarrasses and disgraces this city and misleads people into thinking that's what we're all about up here. And that's not what we're about," said Sam Kurshan, a gay community supporter.

"The mayor's comments were his personal comments and I stand and applaud him for immediately apologizing for those comments," said Nichols.

Eventually, the two sides came face to face.

"The civil rights movement protects gays and everybody else!" said Kurshan in an informal debate outside City Hall.

Another man argued back "And we believe in the bible, so if you want to try and censure somebody, you go to a higher power, censure God. He made the rules that we follow today!"

Many people say the night's dueling demonstrations show the increasing tension between a growing gay community and the conservative Christian community.

"I think that it really lit the flames and fueled the flame," said Rev. Lou Bordisso with the American Catholic Church.

Gay supporters say it was the elephant in the room during the last mayoral election between Gary Cloutier, an openly gay candidate, and Mayor Davis -- a born-again Christian.

Some gay community members are asking the council to censure Mayor Davis for his comments, but it was not on Tuesday night's agenda. However, it could be on next week's agenda because two council members have spoken out publicly against the mayor.

On Tuesday night Mayor Davis made no comment, but you can read an excerpt of the New York Times interview transcript and his remarks about gays here.


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