Queer Town: Villaraigosa Jumps (Belatedly) on the Gay Marriage Bandwagon

A week, almost to the hour, after the first gay couple legally wed in Los Angeles County, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will finally preside over a same sex marriage. American Beauty producer Bruce Cohen, who won an Oscar for the film, and New York art consultant Gabriel Catone will take their vows downtown at City Hall. Cohen and Villaraigosa had both been major supporters of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

For all of last week, Villaraigosa took to the road, visiting Israel and then Miami, where the U.S. Conference of Mayors held its annual convention. Villaraigosa studied airport security in the Middle East and endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in Miami, then criticized President George Bush's policies towards the poor in a speech to his fellow mayors--his work on the campaign trail for Obama has apparently already begun.

Through it all, Villaraigosa was nowhere to be seen or heard when California became only the second state in the nation to legalize same sex marriage. It was history in the making, but the mayor--a vocal supporter of gay marriage in the past--apparently didn't want to play too large a role in that history.

Villaraigosa may be making up for lost time, though, with his gay constituency, who are known to be generous political contributors, especially in this town. Gearing up for his mayoral reelection bid by raising large sums of money the past few weeks, Villaraigosa will also attend the second annual "LGBT Pride Celebration" at City Hall on Friday--the public is invited. Openly gay LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl will host the morning event which will honor California State Senator Sheila Kuehl, actor Wilson Cruz, journalist Karen Ocamb, and two of the leading plaintiffs in the supreme court case that legalized same sex marriage, Robin Tyler and Diane Olson. Tyler and Olson married last Monday in Beverly Hills while Villaraigosa was visiting Israel.

Today's wedding will be held at 4:30 p.m. inside the mayor's press conference room in City Hall--an interesting choice since City Council President Eric Garcetti presided over a very public gay wedding last Tuesday on the front steps of City Hall. Maybe there's a reason for the limited access to the ceremony or maybe not, but "Queer Town" sends its congratulations to Gabriel Catone and Bruce Cohen on their very special day.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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