Why Kevin Faulconer Changed on Same-Sex Marriage

Why Kevin Faulconer Changed on Same-Sex Marriage

Photo by Sam Hodgson

City Councilman Kevin Faulconer

Had Kevin Faulconer gotten his way six years ago, then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ tearful speech explaining his support for same-sex marriage wouldn’t have happened.

Sanders announced he was reversing his position and wouldn’t veto a City Council resolution supporting same-sex marriage. The resolution had passed 5-3. Faulconer was on the losing side.

A year later, Faulconer, a Republican like Sanders, officially changed his position.

He voted for a separate Council resolution to urge citizens to vote against Proposition 8, a statewide ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage (it was recently overturned by the courts). At the time, Faulconer didn’t explain his switch.

These days, Faulconer, a mayoral candidate, isn’t shy about his support for same-sex marriage. Here’s his tweet the day the Supreme Court overturned Prop. 8.

 

Faulconer said he initially didn’t realize how significant the issue was until it became a heated discussion around town.

“For me personally, it wasn’t an issue that impacted, wasn’t one that I had focused on a great deal,” Faulconer said Thursday.

“I had people approach me in the gay and lesbian community that wanted to sit down, wanted to get my thoughts, wanted to get my views and shared with me their very personal stories,” he said. “My commitment to them was that I was going to listen. I was going to take a thoughtful approach. My position wasn’t supported by everyone in my political party, but I came to that decision and I think it was the best personal decision for me.”

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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77 comments
Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster subscribermember

I look at this from the perspective of leadership. When George Wallace was elected governor of Alabama in 1963 he said, “I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” He acted upon this viewpoint in many infamous ways and was reelected based on populist support of segregation in his state. It was not until much later in life when he was out of politics that he renounced segregation, saying, “"I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over." During his leadership many people were injured, killed, and imprisoned protesting segregation.

Gay marriage is seen by many as a civil rights issue. Those denied the opportunity were economically disadvantaged, ostracized, and made to feel less human by some. Changing positions on issues like this when it appears to be politically safe, as did Mr. Faulconer, should be seen for what it is. Pandering to his constituency. Leadership would be taking a stand because you truly believe it, regardless of the consequences. I don't believe people should expect that of Mr. Faulconer. I don't think he's demonstrated it.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

I will vote for Alvarez, but I am glad to see Faulconer and other CA Republicans willingness to support the GLBT equality movement whatever the basis for their support. Opportunism is not that far from responsiveness to what voters want.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

You are correct: SD no longer makes public policy decisions on the same basis as you run your life. And IMO that is a change for the better.

Douglas Gwinn
Douglas Gwinn

Before I comment, let me explain that I do not live in San Diego. I happen to follow a few issues that relate to conservatism such as abortion / pro-life, religious freedom / 1st amendment issues (such as the Mount Soledad Cross), and the LGBT debate. My own alma mater, for example, (a Christian college) a couple of years ago authorized an LGBTQ group to meet officially on campus. This would have been a moral outrage 30 years ago when I attended there, but now it is widely accepted, to my chagrin and the disappointment of many. As for San Diego, I'm surprised at the liberal shift that has occurred over the past 20 to 25 years and when you look at the kind of mayoral candidates recently, many are lesbians or gays, or support same-sex marriage. That would have been shocking 25 years ago, but now people take it in stride. I realize that California approved same-sex marriage, but it wasn't the people who approved it, it was the courts. That should be a shallow victory for liberals.

As a Christian, I cannot help but remind myself and everyone reading this that the Bible speaks very poorly of homosexuality. God opposes it and when God opposes something, that means that those who practice it are not within His blessing. My wife and I happened to read Romans chapter 1 in our devotions the other day. The Apostle Paul says: "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."

The Word of God should not be considered "hate speech" so I trust that this posting will not be deleted. If one were to count the number of Bibles ensconced in public and private libraries within the City of San Diego, the number would certainly be in the thousands, and I don't think the Bible has been banned yet.

If we give up on believing and obeying the Word of God, where are we headed? The last verse of Romans chapter one provides a clue: "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." So the only thing that remains is the judgment of God unless people return to the Lord and return to the Scriptures. The Bible says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14). God is calling San Diego back to Himself... this may be His final call.

JamesHartline
JamesHartline

This is the thing I detest the most about the long, long, never ending train of corrupt San Diego politicians. They simply refuse to be honest and straightforward with the voters. Kevin Faulconer is no different. I personally have witnessed, over the past seven years, Kevin Faulconer repeatedly flip flop his positions on serious moral questions. Some are saying, "What has gay marriage got to do with the mayor?" Well, apparently a lot, considering the big deal Jerry Sanders made out of it. And, it was Toni Atkins who repeatedly forced the issue onto the city council docket. We, the voters, are the ones who constantly have to contend with San Diego city council members and the mayor because THEY are the ones who have made it a council issue with their own personal agendas being forced upon us on the council dockets. If Atkins had shown more interest in fixing the still unresolved corrupt and illegal pension debacle that she created rather than her spending countless city council hours pursuing gay marriage legal briefs and special LGBT privileges and city council resolutions to honor transvestite celebrations and gay porn events, the city would not still be facing a $2 billion pension deficit. I personally witnessed Kevin Faulconer vote against the city issuing a legal brief in support of gay marriage on September 4, 2007. And like so many other things, I witnessed Kevin Faulconer flip flop repeatedly on the issue. And now, he is up to his old tricks once again. Faulconer is going into churches who are against gay marriage and having back room meetings with the pastors to scrounge up the Christian votes he spit on when he mocked them on the gay marriage issue. This isn't about the marriage issue. This is about Kevin Faulconer's lack of integrity and his willingness to betray voters - until he needs their votes at the next election.

JamesHartline
JamesHartline

This is the thing I detest the most about the long, long, never ending train of corrupt San Diego politicians. They simply refuse to be honest and straightforward with the voters. Kevin Faulconer is no different. I personally have witnessed, over the past seven years, Kevin Faulconer repeatedly flip flop his positions on serious moral questions. Some are saying, "What has gay marriage got to do with the mayor?" Well, apparently a lot, considering the big deal Jerry Sanders made out of it. And, it was Toni Atkins who repeatedly forced the issue onto the city council docket. We, the voters, are the ones who constantly have to contend with San Diego city council members and the mayor because THEY are the ones who have made it a council issue with their own personal agendas being forced upon us on the council dockets. If Atkins had shown more interest in fixing the still unresolved corrupt and illegal pension debacle that she created rather than her spending countless city council hours pursuing gay marriage legal briefs and special LGBT privileges and city council resolutions to honor transvestite celebrations and gay porn events, the city would not still be facing a $2 billion pension deficit. I personally witnessed Kevin Faulconer vote against the city issuing a legal brief in support of gay marriage on September 4, 2007. And like so many other things, I witnessed Kevin Faulconer flip flop repeatedly on the issue. And now, he is up to his old tricks once again. Faulconer is going into churches who are against gay marriage and having back room meetings with the pastors to scrounge up the Christian votes he spit on when he mocked them on the gay marriage issue. This isn't about the marriage issue. This is about Kevin Faulconer's lack of integrity and his willingness to betray voters - until he needs their votes at the next election. (The photo is Faulconer scrounging for mayoral votes at pro-Prop 8 Bayview Church with recently departed city councilman Tony Young)

Kenneth Orr
Kenneth Orr

Kevin Faulconer is my councilperson, and I really hope he isn't elected Mayor, because his office doesn't even respond to complaints or feedback from his constituents in the East Village now. Do we really want him ignoring the entire city? I will be voting NO!

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

What does gay marriage have to do with running a city? Nothing. Focusing on gay marriage in a mayors race is the exact opposite of civic responsibility. We need jobs and business growth, not pandering to single issue fanatics, that does the city no good.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

What does gay marriage have to do with running a city? Nothing. Focusing on gay marriage in a mayors race is the exact opposite of civic responsibility. We need jobs and business growth, not pandering to single issue fanatics, that does the city no good.

Lucas OConnor
Lucas OConnor

It seems off base to attempt to litigate whether Faulconer really believes his shift or whether the timing somehow means it doesn't count. Here he says he cast a vote without looking into or (presumably) much caring what the consequences would be, so the much more pressing question to me is, how many other issues has he legislated or does he continue to legislate without bothering to consider the consequences?

Lucas OConnor
Lucas OConnor subscriber

It seems off base to attempt to litigate whether Faulconer really believes his shift or whether the timing somehow means it doesn't count. Here he says he cast a vote without looking into or (presumably) much caring what the consequences would be, so the much more pressing question to me is, how many other issues has he legislated or does he continue to legislate without bothering to consider the consequences?

Mike Delahunt
Mike Delahunt

Kevin Faulconer is just another empty suit climbing the ladder on the public dole.

Mike Delahunt
Mike Delahunt subscriber

Kevin Faulconer is just another empty suit climbing the ladder on the public dole.

Cory Briggs
Cory Briggs

There are many good reasons why Kevin should not be mayor or for that matter even hold public office. But changing his mind after talking to the people affected by his decision and giving the issue more consideration is not one of them. Indeed, we should encourage politicians to do this sort of thing every day; it's how reasonable people approach life. What we need to do better as constituents--and what admittedly we have not yet figured out how to do very well--is distinguish between sincere and opportunistic changes. But our shortcomings as constituents cannot justify refusing to accept enlightened decision-making by our leaders. All of us should reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than we are today.

Cory Briggs
Cory Briggs subscribermember

There are many good reasons why Kevin should not be mayor or for that matter even hold public office. But changing his mind after talking to the people affected by his decision and giving the issue more consideration is not one of them. Indeed, we should encourage politicians to do this sort of thing every day; it's how reasonable people approach life. What we need to do better as constituents--and what admittedly we have not yet figured out how to do very well--is distinguish between sincere and opportunistic changes. But our shortcomings as constituents cannot justify refusing to accept enlightened decision-making by our leaders. All of us should reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than we are today.

Bill Brittingham
Bill Brittingham

Isn't it obvious? Faulconer changed his mind because he aspires to higher office. Like many GOP politicians, he engaged in routine gay-baiting in the past because the "base" demanded it, and he needed them to get elected. That's why he "changed." The Republican Party has bashed gay people for the last 40 years but, suddenly, it doesn't seem to work so well anymore. My prediction: The GOP will soon stop sliming gay people and then deny they ever did it in the first place. Ah politics.

Bill Brittingham
Bill Brittingham subscriber

Isn't it obvious? Faulconer changed his mind because he aspires to higher office. Like many GOP politicians, he engaged in routine gay-baiting in the past because the "base" demanded it, and he needed them to get elected. That's why he "changed." The Republican Party has bashed gay people for the last 40 years but, suddenly, it doesn't seem to work so well anymore. My prediction: The GOP will soon stop sliming gay people and then deny they ever did it in the first place. Ah politics.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross

Faulconer and Fletcher are two of a kind. Both are political switch hitters.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

Faulconer and Fletcher are two of a kind. Both are political switch hitters.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross

Faulconer and Fletcher are two of a kind both are political switch hitters.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

Faulconer and Fletcher are two of a kind both are political switch hitters.

Karen Grube
Karen Grube

I strongly suggest that Mr..Faulconer "change his mind" again and go back to supporting traditional marriage.. NOW. First of all, the Republican Party still has a very strong Platform supporting traditional marriage. If he wants to STAY a Republican, I suggest that he actually support core Republican values as expressed in the party Platform. That is, if he actually wants Republican support and Republican votes. Second, he needs to take a look at the pounding Assemblyman Rocky Chavez is getting right now for "changing his mind" on this issue. It isn't pretty. THIS is why the Republican Party is losing support; no one can trust them to stand up for the things they say they believe. Once a candidate or elected official betrays the voters trust by going against the things they say they value, they lose all trust and confidence in them. But what I care about most is this guy HONESTLY saying what he thinks about gay "marriage" and its impact on this state and this country. We just lost our ability to develop and pass any ballot initiative that we think the Governor might not like, as one consequence. We have seen companies in other states sued and forced out of business when these laws are passed. We have seen children used as pawns in custody games between so called "parents" who have no real relationship to the child. If he can't see these consequences and doesn't make a statement to that effect immediately, he certainly doesn't deserve to be the mayor of the 8th largest city in this country.

Karen Grube
Karen Grube subscriber

I strongly suggest that Mr..Faulconer "change his mind" again and go back to supporting traditional marriage.. NOW. First of all, the Republican Party still has a very strong Platform supporting traditional marriage. If he wants to STAY a Republican, I suggest that he actually support core Republican values as expressed in the party Platform. That is, if he actually wants Republican support and Republican votes. Second, he needs to take a look at the pounding Assemblyman Rocky Chavez is getting right now for "changing his mind" on this issue. It isn't pretty. THIS is why the Republican Party is losing support; no one can trust them to stand up for the things they say they believe. Once a candidate or elected official betrays the voters trust by going against the things they say they value, they lose all trust and confidence in them. But what I care about most is this guy HONESTLY saying what he thinks about gay "marriage" and its impact on this state and this country. We just lost our ability to develop and pass any ballot initiative that we think the Governor might not like, as one consequence. We have seen companies in other states sued and forced out of business when these laws are passed. We have seen children used as pawns in custody games between so called "parents" who have no real relationship to the child. If he can't see these consequences and doesn't make a statement to that effect immediately, he certainly doesn't deserve to be the mayor of the 8th largest city in this country.

Michael Magee
Michael Magee

I have to disagree with those who disparage Councilman Faulconer's change of position on marriage equality. Kevin's change of heart is evocative of the evolution millions of Americans have gone through recently on these issues. Five years ago solid majorities opposed marriage equality but thanks to the hard work of the LGBT community and courageous straight allies, like Jerry Sanders, we have turned the tide of public sentiment within a very short period of time. It is simply unfair to imply Councilman Faulconer is some kind of "Johnny come lately" to the issue or say he did it for self serving purposes. He stood for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and against the odious and immoral Proposition 8 long before many who have since changed their minds. He did so much to the chagrin of the far right Republican Party elders in this community including Doug Manchester. He did the right thing because he sat down with his constituents, educated himself and made what was a very courageous decision that very well could have harmed him politically. I may disagree with him on a host of other issues but on this one Kevin Faulconer did the right thing because he listened, learned and had the courage to change.

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster

When Mr. Faulconer was first running for office he asked and I lent my mug (shot) to his campaign brochure. So I think it is more than fair to say I supported his election. Since that time I have been continually disappointed. My view is similar to that of Dave Hall: He doesn’t make tough decisions until he is pretty sure he is going to upset a minority of people and he agonizes regardless. Jerry Sanders’ decision was clearly from the heart and I think one of the reasons he was so tearful is that he realized he had waited too long and previously perhaps put politics ahead of his moral compass on the issue, even though he had a gay family member. In the end, I think he courageously led his political constituency on the issue, rather than following it, and influenced that constituency locally and nationally. Mr. Faulconer is no Jerry Sanders. Like Mr. Fletcher, I think he hues to what he thinks will get him elected and keep him elected. As he alludes in this interview, he didn’t have a position on the issue because it didn’t matter to him personally. Nice, except that being an elected official necessitates informed and considered leadership on issues that matter to constituents. Even tough issues.

Douglas Gwinn
Douglas Gwinn

Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." And Hebrews says, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever." Get used to it my friend David. You acknowledged that the climate in San Diego has "changed", but what makes it "better" to abandon God and leave His instruction out of public policy decisions? Leaders need to seek wisdom from God, without which society flounders in a moral vacuum.

David Cohen
David Cohen

You are correct: SD no longer makes public policy decisions on the same basis as you run your life. And IMO that is a change for the better.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

So far it has been no factor in the election, has it?

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster

Indeed. How are you bucking your party when the de facto local leader thereof has taken a leadership role on the issue long before you? There is leadership and there is political calculation. Equally important, according to Mr. Dillon's reporting, Mr. Faulconer said, "For me personally, it wasn’t an issue that impacted, wasn’t one that I had focused on a great deal." According to that version, he wasn't worried about bucking his party. He just didn't care. Myopia? Cowardice? I don't know, but it would have been hard to imagine anyone seeing this as an issue that didn't "impact."

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga

Shouldn't the bigger issue be that he bucked his party and changed his mind after learning more? Isn't that what we want politicians to do?

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster subscribermember

Indeed. How are you bucking your party when the de facto local leader thereof has taken a leadership role on the issue long before you? There is leadership and there is political calculation. Equally important, according to Mr. Dillon's reporting, Mr. Faulconer said, "For me personally, it wasn’t an issue that impacted, wasn’t one that I had focused on a great deal." According to that version, he wasn't worried about bucking his party. He just didn't care. Myopia? Cowardice? I don't know, but it would have been hard to imagine anyone seeing this as an issue that didn't "impact."

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

Shouldn't the bigger issue be that he bucked his party and changed his mind after learning more? Isn't that what we want politicians to do?

Joe Jones
Joe Jones

Thanks, Mike. I was considering voting for him, but your well reasoned, deeply researched argument has dissuaded me.

Joe Jones
Joe Jones subscriber

Thanks, Mike. I was considering voting for him, but your well reasoned, deeply researched argument has dissuaded me.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw

Mr. Briggs, My reaction to Faulconer's change of position was the same as yours. Ho hum. It mirrors my own attitude toward the subject. But please, stop teasing your myriad fans. What are all these reasons why Faulconer shouldn't hold public office, much less be mayor?

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster

Mr. Briggs: I admire your thinking and community leadership, but I am not entirely understanding your point. I agree that we need to do a better job as constituents distinguishing between sincere and opportunistic changes. Was this change opportunistic or enlightened? My perception is the former and part of a pattern of behavior in that regard. I agree that we should not refuse to accept enlightened changes. I think we should avoid supporting those whose pattern of behavior is opportunistic.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

Mr. Briggs, My reaction to Faulconer's change of position was the same as yours. Ho hum. It mirrors my own attitude toward the subject. But please, stop teasing your myriad fans. What are all these reasons why Faulconer shouldn't hold public office, much less be mayor?

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster subscribermember

Mr. Briggs: I admire your thinking and community leadership, but I am not entirely understanding your point. I agree that we need to do a better job as constituents distinguishing between sincere and opportunistic changes. Was this change opportunistic or enlightened? My perception is the former and part of a pattern of behavior in that regard. I agree that we should not refuse to accept enlightened changes. I think we should avoid supporting those whose pattern of behavior is opportunistic.

Joe Jones
Joe Jones

My prediction: Nobody will care what Bill Brittingham predicts.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw

Mr. Brittingham, please cite a single incident of "gay-baiting" that Kevin Faulconer engaged in, or kindly shut your mouth. Thanks

Erik Hanson
Erik Hanson

You forgot the part where they start claiming that Harvey Milk was a Republican.

Joe Jones
Joe Jones subscriber

My prediction: Nobody will care what Bill Brittingham predicts.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

Mr. Brittingham, please cite a single incident of "gay-baiting" that Kevin Faulconer engaged in, or kindly shut your mouth. Thanks

Erik Hanson
Erik Hanson subscriber

You forgot the part where they start claiming that Harvey Milk was a Republican.

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster

With respect to our recent mayoral experience and the options presenting themselves, I think there is a middle-ground between reckless and cautious. I think it is very good that the San Diego electorate may now be thinking more carefully about morals and character in the coming election. Character counts, as do leadership skills. My concern is that we need to avoid electing people who primarily seek office because they want to be in power, versus those who seek it primarily to serve the community and to contribute principled leadership.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw

Chris, I'm really thankful Faulconer is "....no Jerry Sanders". I agree with you he's a very cautious politician, and it's been frustrating to me at times. However, we just had a bold politician mayor and I'm ready for a more cautious one. Faulconer is a moderate Republican who works well with his colleagues, takes his job seriously, doesn't get too excited easily and is very concerned with the city's financial future. Not all bad.

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster

Mr. Blucher: I am suggesting that in some cases these struggles are sincere and in others they are pure political calculation. I admire sincerity.

Don Blucher
Don Blucher

Please give us the name of ONE politician that hasn't struggled with decisions involved with and conflicted by personal beliefs, constituents' beliefs, Party beliefs, and the Noisy Minority hue & cry???? Decisions on the council are often made through discussion with other points of view, then a consensus is reached. That may conflict with previous public statements made individually. In politics there is always someone who is not happy. Mayor Sanders had the benefit of successfully leading the officers of the San Diego Police Department prior to becoming mayor. He did a magnificent job, and worked well with Mr. Faulconer, who has had years of experience working with the veteran political players in this town. He is seeking to take on the duties of mayor, with the support of voters, and help to move the City forward. What is wrong with that????

Lucas OConnor
Lucas OConnor

Bucked the party a year after Sanders, after Madaffer was voting for equality, after Carl DeMaio had been elected, and after many others had actually done it... While representing a district that went 63% no on Prop 8 one week later. I guess you could say he was bucking James Hartline, but James probably wouldn't like that. Nothing quite so inspiring as leading from the middle, then saying it's noble because you weren't paying attention. Again, I'm glad he got there, and don't particularly care how he got there. But he's conceding that he has cast votes without considering the impact, which would be an issue for pretty much everything he does as an elected official.

Lucas OConnor
Lucas OConnor subscriber

Bucked the party a year after Sanders, after Madaffer was voting for equality, after Carl DeMaio had been elected, and after many others had actually done it... While representing a district that went 63% no on Prop 8 one week later. I guess you could say he was bucking James Hartline, but James probably wouldn't like that. Nothing quite so inspiring as leading from the middle, then saying it's noble because you weren't paying attention. Again, I'm glad he got there, and don't particularly care how he got there. But he's conceding that he has cast votes without considering the impact, which would be an issue for pretty much everything he does as an elected official.

Joe Jones
Joe Jones

Do tell, Cory. As a self-appointed Community Activist, your insights are virtually deity-worthy. Share some now.

Joe Jones
Joe Jones subscriber

Do tell, Cory. As a self-appointed Community Activist, your insights are virtually deity-worthy. Share some now.

Bill Brittingham
Bill Brittingham

Well said. Yet they can't grasp why LGBT voters will never, ever vote for a Republican. And they're baffled as to why - except for movie stars - the GOP is dead in California statewide politics. Duh.

Bill Brittingham
Bill Brittingham subscriber

Well said. Yet they can't grasp why LGBT voters will never, ever vote for a Republican. And they're baffled as to why - except for movie stars - the GOP is dead in California statewide politics. Duh.