The executive director of San Diego LGBT Pride, Ron deHarte, was attacked and beaten June 6 while waving a large rainbow flag on Main Street in the San Diego working-class suburb of Lemon Grove.
DeHarte was participating in the "Equality Torch Relay," a daylong effort that saw an "equality torch" travel through and from all 18 incorporated towns and cities in San Diego County, ending with a rendezvous of the torchbearers and others in downtown San Diego.
Some 2,000 people took part in the relay, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Pride said.
"From sunrise to nearly sundown, we carried the message of equality to every city in San Diego County," the organization said in a statement. "The need to raise awareness of homophobia and LGBT discrimination echoed through the community when one of the event organizers was attacked for carrying a rainbow flag in Lemon Grove."
In an interview the following day, deHarte said: "I was waiting for the Equality Torch Relay to come by Main and Broadway and standing in front of the famous overly life-size lemon ( statue ) , and with a rainbow flag big as day ... and someone decided to remove me from Lemon Grove.
"He started whaling on me and tried to take the flag away and made it very clear he didn't think I should be there: 'Get out of here. What do you think you're doing? You need to get the fuck out of here. Get that out of here. There's no place for you here.'
"All the while, he was grabbing at the rainbow flag and trying to take it away from me. And he was kicking me and slapping. He hit me good a couple of times. ... I got the side of his fist the first time he hit me, then I think he got my lower jaw on another time. He kicked me a few times. I wasn't bleeding or anything. It certainly hurt. I certainly had soreness as the day went on, and this morning when I woke up, I realized my upper lip was swollen and the inside of my cheek was cut up."
The incident, which lasted about 90 seconds, ended when the attacker realized a TV cameraman had begun taping, deHarte said. The last few moments of the attack were broadcast on local news. See tinyurl.com/lgdeha.
DeHarte was not seriously injured and continued his participation in the day's events.
"It didn't prevent me from going forward," he said. "We were on a mission and we continued that mission."
DeHarte filed an assault complaint against the suspected attacker, who was taken into custody after police found him and deHarte identified him.
"A hate-crime component will be decided ( later ) by the district attorney," deHarte said.
The suspect had an outstanding warrant for weapons possession, trespassing and violating a restraining order, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
BY Lisa Keen
Keen News Service
President Barack Obama, on June 1, signed a proclamation, designating June as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month," and calling on "the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists."
Reaction from the gay community was swift— and thumbs down.
"A proclamation, while encouraging, is far from enough at this point," said one post, from Kansas, on a gay news website. "He gave us a month but I still don't have equal rights," said another, from Ohio. But others urged patience, noting that President Obama has been in the White House for only five months.
"I know everyone is frustrated by the perceived lack of progress," wrote a post from someone in California. "But remember where we were only 6 months ago … . We are in much better shape today."
The proclamation notes that the Obama administration has "partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives." However, it identifies only two: President Obama has appointed two dozen openly gay people to various administration posts, and, in March, he signed onto a pro-gay United Nation's statement. The statement calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality throughout the world. The administration of President Bush did not sign onto the statement, when it came up at the U.N. last December.
Elsewhere, the proclamation notes only that President Obama continues to support "enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and national security."
The proclamation comes at a time, however, when criticism is growing within the LGBT community that Obama has not actively supported such measures and has been relatively silent on gay issues since taking office.
Longtime gay Democratic activist David Mixner voiced his impatience with the current White House, saying in a recent blog post that there has been "very little movement" on important LGBT issues this year. The normally cautious Lorri Jean, head of the Los Angles Gay & Lesbian Center, sent out an open letter to the president May 27, chastising him for saying nothing about the fight for equal-marriage rights even when he spoke in Los Angeles two days after the recent Proposition 8 court decision.
Jean said Obama's "silence at such a time speaks volumes."
"We know the country faces many serious challenges and we have strived to be patient," said Jean in the letter. "We've waited for the slightest sign you would live up to your promise to be a 'fierce advocate' for our equal rights … ."
"I think it is symbolically important," said Jean of the proclamation. "Words are important, but words are not enough." Jean interprets some of the wording of the proclamation as "continuing to back off" his pledge to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy against openly gay people serving. "He said some good things about equal federal rights," she said, " … but we need more. This is not enough."
But gays weren't the only ones to criticize President Obama's proclamation recognizing the 40th anniversary of the gay-rights event known as the Stonewall Rebellion. Readers of a OneNewsNow.com Web site of the American Family Association were harshly critical of the proclamation.
"How's that change going for all you who voted for him?" asked one of the readers, none of whom are identified at the Web site.
The Obama gay pride proclamation, however, isn't the first time a president has made such a declaration—President Bill Clinton was the first and issued gay pride proclamations several times. And Obama's pride proclamation wasn't even the only proclamation he signed on June 1. He also signed one declaring June as "Great Outdoors Month," and encouraging "all Americans to spend more time outside and to participate in the nationwide events marking this occasion."
Read the entire article about the Obama proclamation at www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .