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In the weeks since Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher left the Republican Party, he’s made a point of saying that none of his positions have changed. You can see evidence of that when you compare his stances on hot-button city issues with his GOP-endorsed mayoral opponent, Carl DeMaio. There’s little difference between the two of them.
But on gay marriage there’s evidence that, even if Fletcher’s position hasn’t changed in recent years, he’s shifted in the way he talks about them.
Fletcher used to say that he was personally opposed to gay marriage, but didn’t believe government should play an active role in preventing it. Now, he says government should advocate for it.
The context for a San Diego mayor’s role in the gay marriage issue starts with current Mayor Jerry Sanders. In 2007, Sanders made national headlines when he tearfully reversed his position and supported gay marriage at a live press conference. It’s one of the lasting images of his tenure. Sanders now is a leader in advancing the issue.
Here’s what Fletcher told me in September 2010 when I asked him about gay marriage:
I think marriage is between a man and a woman because my family and my faith teach me that. But I don’t believe it’s government’s job to make that same determination for everyone else.
Fletcher went on to say that he had voted against Proposition 8, the state gay marriage ban. But when I asked if he would have done the same as Sanders in 2007, he replied: “I don’t know.”
Contrast that with what Fletcher told the LGBT Weekly in an interview published last week. Not only did he make no mention of any personal objections, but also he said the mayor needs to publicly advocate for gay marriage:
Mayor Sanders has been a leader in the fight for marriage equality. He’s been the co-chair of a group called Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Will you pick up that mantel?
I would do the same.
You would take a place in that campaign?
Yes. When an issue’s important, you have to be willing to take a stand and speak out for it. …
That’s the big issue for us: marriage-equality. And just to make absolutely clear, you would stand up and fight for it?
Fletcher’s stance on abortion has also come up on the campaign trail.
His campaign touted a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood and maintained he’s always been in favor of abortion rights. But, as his opponent Bonnie Dumanis noted, Fletcher received a 0 percent rating from Planned Parenthood on abortion issues in 2009.
Fletcher’s campaign spokeswoman Amy Thoma parsed the two scores. She said the first one measured votes Planned Parenthood deemed significant while current rating comes from personal positions Fletcher expressed to the organization.
Still, Fletcher seemed to acknowledge the situation when he sought the organization’s mayoral endorsement in April.
“While I have always considered myself pro‐choice, there are many areas I didn’t have a background or expertise in when first elected,” he wrote in a letter to Planned Parenthood. “I always strive to gain a better understanding and seek out all points of view. While we may not agree 100%, this questionnaire reflects my positions and my commitment to a woman’s right to chose (sic).”
You can read Fletcher’s full response to Planned Parenthood’s questionnaire here.
Correction: This post originally said Fletcher was anti-abortion. We regret the error.
Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?
Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5663.
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