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Foes of Irvine Rights Law Called Outsiders

The Rev. Louis Sheldon, the Anaheim anti-gay activist, and other people who do not live in Irvine are helping to organize and direct the campaign to deny homosexuals protection under Irvine’s controversial human rights ordinance, critics charged Friday.

Calling the involvement of Sheldon and the others an intrusion into the city’s affairs, City Councilwoman Paula Werner expressed concern over outsiders becoming active in issues that she said should be decided solely by residents of Irvine.

“I certainly intend to investigate how we as a City Council might better formulate our campaign rules and restrictions so that Irvine residents and workers are having the impact on matters regarding Irvine, not the outsiders like the ones who have gotten into this campaign,” she said. “I don’t think outside interests should be interfering with Irvine politics.”

Werner’s comments came after it was revealed that Sheldon and other non-residents had lent their support to the Irvine Values Coalition, a group primarily composed of religious fundamentalists that is trying to delete the words “sexual orientation” from the rights ordinance. A proposal to that effect will appear on the Nov. 7 city ballot.

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Werner also serves as a board member of Irvine Citizens United, a group formed to oppose the ballot measure.

Irvine Citizens United said two men who helped write the ballot argument to exclude homosexuals from the ordinance are not Irvine residents. The group identified them as Joe Dallas, a Garden Grove counselor, and Dr. Lawrence J. McNamee, a radiologist in Whittier who lives in La Habra Heights.

McNamee worked with Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) on Proposition 102, a proposal that would have required that the names of AIDS patients be registered with the state. It was rejected by California voters in the last election.

Attempts to contact Dallas and McNamee for comment were unsuccessful.

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Jim Boone, a member of Citizens United, said many Irvine residents resent “being controlled and run by people completely outside the city. It is plain to see that Rev. Louis Sheldon is the ‘grandfather’ of this organization, and all the rest are his children. The similarities are endless.”

Boone pointed to the similarity in the names and agendas of Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition and the Irvine Values Coalition. Last month, Sheldon’s group led a protest against a gay pride festival in Santa Ana. He is waging a recall effort against that city’s mayor and three council members because the festival was allowed to be held.

Scott Peotter, chairman of the Irvine Values Coalition, at first strongly denied that the two organizations had been in contact but he later conceded that “a few conversations” took place with Sheldon. Sheldon went further, saying the Traditional Values Coalition had been advising and shaping the Irvine group since its infancy.

“We have been serving them since the very early beginnings of it, which is only natural because we have an interest in this thing too,” Sheldon said. “I just spoke to them and gave advice to Scott a few days ago. We chitchat about different things quite often.”

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Victoria Miller, treasurer of Irvine Citizens United, criticized Peotter’s group for bringing in outsiders to give the organization legitimacy.

Peotter responded that residency was not a primary concern in bringing in people to work on the campaign.

‘We are bringing in people that look credible; residents were of secondary concern,” Peotter said. “It is not being run by those guys, but sometimes we use the expertise of people like William Dannemeyer. We are all just amateurs at this.”

If voters approve the Nov. 7 ballot measure, the words “sexual orientation” would be deleted from the human rights ordinance. The City Council adopted the ordinance to ban discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, physical handicap, marital status or sexual orientation.

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