By Dan Aiello
Sources in Sacramento's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, as well as an additional source connected to the Capital City's selection committee tell the paper it is possible that Sacramento's next police chief could be openly gay.
While none of the sources were named, their connections to the selection process and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community are known and appear to be credible.
There are four candidates being considered for the replacement of retired Sacramento Chief of Police Rick Braziel. All four under consideration are Deputy Chiefs from within the department: three men and one woman.
City Manager, John Shirey, who has held his position just over a year, will be advised by a City Advisory committee made up of one representative from each district appointed by the councilmembers and one appointed by the mayor will make their recommendation to the City Manager's office following a January 16th interview of all four candidates./p>
The committee's recommendation is non-binding, however, and Shirey's decision is also autonomous of the City Council and Mayor Kevin Johnson, who will have no ability to confirm or veto Shirey's choice.
A Second LGBT First for Sacramento
It was just last November that Sacramento elected its first openly gay councilmember, Steve Hansen, to the District 4 seat after redistricting for the first time encompassed the entire midtown area known for its high concentration of LGBT residents.
Hansen eeked out a narrow victory over former Mayor Anne Rudin's endorsed candidate Joe Yee, a city architect and straight ally of the LGBT community whose immigrant parents worked in the Libby Cannery while their son attended Washington Elementary across the street and later graduated from McClatchy High School, all within District 4.
Despite having two out gay candidates (Hansen and 5th generation Sacramentan Terry Schanz), the District 4 runoff was contentious within the LGBT community because Mayor Rudin is a beloved figure who continues to receive standing ovations at all LGBT-oriented events for her role in beginning the gay rights movement in 1970 when she, as a councilmember, went to the Chief of Police and requested that officers no longer harass Val "Velma" Starr, a crossdresser. Rudin procured for Starr what is now political lore, called "The Letter," providing Starr police immunity. Rudin, the last citizen mayor, went on to enact protections in housing and employment, including those with HIV at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.
Prior to the redrawing of district lines the midtown area, also known as Lavender Heights, was divided into two districts, preventing the LGBT community from securing representation on the City's council, according to local political activists.
"I don't know the candidates, but if a gay or lesbian candidate is being considered I would say this is a step forward for the LGBT community," said Rudin when reached at her home Saturday morning where she is recovering from the flu. "For the city in general, I really don't see how it would be an issue or concern, except that it might mean that person will be more understanding and tolerant of differences."
Like other minority groups of citizens who have been persecuted by society, government, religious groups and law enforcement, gay, lesbian and transgender citizens have been asked to forgive past transgressions on their civil liberties while still experiencing others today, including denials in the right to marry, tax benefits afforded married couples, GI benefits in healthcare and housing, redress for those ousted under the military witchhunt known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney vowed to reinstate, even the right to donate blood. In many states there remain no laws protecting LGBT from being fired or evicted for being homosexual.
For many in the LGBT community, the image of Matthew Shepard tied to that Wyoming fence, dying, remains forever engrained in their minds, making the appointment of an openly gay or lesbian police chief both symbolic and significant.
Locally, the suspicious death of transgendered Sacramentan, Ruby Molina, and the murder of Satendar Singh at the hands of a homophobic Slavic Evangelical community some 70 churches strong that continues to hide one of his killers, Andrey Vusik, from justice has hardened the resolve of an LGBT community that has had enough.
Possible Third First for LGBT in 2013
In addition to Hansen and the possibility of an out Police Chief, the Bay Area Reporter article this week reported the openly gay sister of Prop 8 mastermind Frank Schubert, Deputy District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, will seek her boss's job as the next Sacramento County District Attorney. Jan Scully, the current District Attorney for the county, is retiring. Anne Marie Schubert had run a short campaign for Superior Court Judge in 2010 before the position was appointed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.