Dems shrug off Biden debate flub at SF Pride event

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Monday July 1, 2024
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Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, center, posed for a photo with board members of the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club after addressing the group's annual pride breakfast June 30. Photo: Cynthia Laird
Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, center, posed for a photo with board members of the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club after addressing the group's annual pride breakfast June 30. Photo: Cynthia Laird

Speakers at the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club's annual Pride Breakfast largely ignored President Joe Biden's underwhelming debate performance even as they emphasized the importance of reelecting America's chief executive in November.

The White House dispatched second gentleman Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, to the event, held Sunday, June 30, at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. He did not mention the debate during his prepared remarks except to say "nothing has changed." Biden was widely panned for his halting performance during the June 27 face-off with former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

The B.A.R. was later shooed away from Emhoff as he took photos with supporters as a reporter tried to ask if he had a comment about the debate. He did not do a media availability with reporters.

But Emhoff did tell the audience of about 600 that Trump "is still unfit for office."

"This is a binary election — binary, which means you just have one or the other," Emhoff said. "And on one side of the ledger, you still saw that at the debate — the lies, the deceit, just the things coming out of his mouth as a former president, let alone someone who wants to have office again.

"Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the most pro-LGBTQ administration ever," he added. "We know that all goes away" if they are not reelected.

Congressmember Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), the former House speaker, did acknowledge Biden's missteps when she addressed attendees at the top of the event.

"The other day wasn't a plus for us. You have to be honest about that," Pelosi said. "But on the other hand, what we saw on one side of the screen — if you see a split-screen — is integrity, concern for people, answers to questions. What we saw on the other side was dishonesty, misrepresentation, and no concern for people."

Malcolm Kenyatta (D), a gay Black man who's a Pennsylvania state representative running for statewide auditor general in November, told the audience that the election is "not going to be decided by the debate."

"You ask what's going to save democracy," he said. "Look at the front of your [phone] camera. It's you, my friend."

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said she was ready to vote for the Democratic presidential ticket.

"We need to make sure Biden and Harris are elected so that we can save democracy," she said.

Project 2025

Several speakers referenced the right-wing's "Project 2025," a massive transition plan led by the conservative Heritage Foundation and numerous other groups that critics say would strip rights from people. The plan could also be put to use by conservative political leaders even if Trump falls short at the ballot box.

It promotes a conservative administration and impacts the rights of marginalized groups such as women, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.

For example, Project 2025 states, "The next conservative President must make the institutions of American civil society hard targets for woke culture warriors. This starts with deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity ('SOGI'), diversity, equity, and inclusion ('DEI'), gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights, and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists."

Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) said that while Pride weekend was a "joyous" time, "let's remember the work ahead ... and this Project 2025 BS."

"They've actually done us a favor by telling us what they're going to do," he said, adding that anti-LGBTQ actions and laws in other states "are just a dry run" for the policies included in Project 2025.

Emhoff also mentioned the document, calling it "a blueprint for fascism and authoritarianism."

Repeal Prop 8 language

Kelley Robinson, a queer Black woman who's president of the national Human Rights Campaign, gave a spirited speech in which she mentioned the importance of California residents voting to repeal the "zombie" Proposition 8 language that is embedded in the state's constitution despite the 2008 initiative later being overturned by federal courts. That led to the resumption of same-sex marriage in the Golden State in 2013.

Along with statewide LGBTQ+ rights group Equality California, HRC is one of the organizations leading the campaign to vote for the Freedom to Marry initiative that will appear on the November 5 ballot. Gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) and Wiener co-authored Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 last year; the Legislature passed it and it now moves on to voters, who have the final word.

Robinson referenced the 2004 "Winter of Love" in San Francisco when then-mayor Gavin Newsom ordered city officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Newsom, now California's governor, was in San Francisco in early June to launch the Northern California campaign to repeal the outdated and homophobic Prop 8 language that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

"I'm ready to repeal Prop 8 once and for all," Robinson said.

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