Council Bliss

The City Council’s 11-0 vote Tuesday in support of an Assembly bill granting equal treatment to same-sex marriage didn’t mean much by itself. But it didn’t hurt, as Assemblyman Mark Leno’s bill moved out of a Senate committee Tuesday, and was important as a marker of how fast and how far attitudes have changed in a short period of time.

Perhaps the clearest measure of attitude shift was how the council passed it. Quickly? Quietly? No, not these guys.

Eric Garcetti brought it to the council in April, and it came to the floor on Friday, but the vote was delayed so that several members, including co-author Jan Perry, could get their word in. So it came back on Tuesday, to allow everyone to weigh in.

And they did. Some were poignant, like Perry, who spoke of her godson “growing up in a family with two fathers.” Some were frank, like Ed Reyes, who in his first term took a lot of heat for backing a memorial in Lincoln Park for people felled by AIDS, and spoke Tuesday of the pain that people in his immigrant-rich district feel when dealing with their “macho attitudes” about sexuality. Some were slightly goofy, like Dennis Zine, who took it upon himself to point out that in West Hollywood, with its large gay population, “They don’t have a funding problem, because they have good, honest citizens who support the Constitution.” Or Tom LaBonge, who told Zine that “You don’t need to go to West Hollywood. Go to Silver Lake!”

But the most moving words came from new Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is openly gay. On Friday and again on Tuesday, Rosendahl held up his 35-year-old Bible and told his colleagues the pages were stained with his tears — a mark of the time he spent wrestling with his identity.

“In my struggling to come to my understanding of my relationship with God,” Rosendahl said, “I finally realized that God created nature, and God makes no mistakes. So we’re not a mistake, we’re not an accident, we’re just another expression of God’s will.”

The councilman said he spoke “in the tradition of Joel Wachs and Jackie Goldberg,” the only two previous members of the City Council who were openly gay.

Wachs first made his sexual orientation public late in his political career, during his 2001 campaign for mayor, at a time when it still wasn’t clear whether homosexuality would be seen as a campaign liability. The ho-hum reaction to Wachs’ acknowledgment, made on Rosendahl’s Adelphia public-affairs TV program in answer to a direct question from Rosendahl, helped pave the way for openly gay candidates.

Bernard Parks and Greig Smith were absent for the vote — but present for most of the rest of the council meeting. Smith’s chief of staff, Mitchell Englander, said, “I had to pull him out” for a budget matter, and added, “I don’t think he’s got a position” on the council resolution. Parks did not return a call for comment.

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