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IRVINE : Don’t Flaunt, Gays Warned by N Victors

Gays are welcome here as long as they do not flaunt their “life styles,” said leaders of the Irvine Values Coalition, which organized a successful drive to delete civil rights protections for gays from a city ordinance.

In a press conference held Monday outside Irvine City Hall, Scott Peotter, president of the coalition said: “Homosexuals, like any other citizen, are welcome in the city of Irvine. We just don’t want homosexuality promoted in Irvine.”

But Peotter and Michael Shea, another group leader, denied that their newly victorious forces will appoint themselves to be the city’s unofficial “sex police,” as their opponents have predicted since the passage Nov. 7 of Measure N, which repealed protection for gays under a city rights ordinance.

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When the coalition formed in 1988, Peotter said he hoped also to monitor sex education in public schools and pornography in video rental stores and to help gays change their life style through therapy.

Instead, Peotter and Shea said the coalition now will turn attention to supporting--and perhaps fielding--"pro-family” candidates for City Council in June’s election. Homosexuality is not on the group’s agenda of “pro-family” issues, they said, citing instead issues as diverse as traffic, taxes and day care.

The climate in the city is already perceived to be chillier for the city’s estimated 10,000 gays and other minorities, Measure N foes said Monday.

“If that’s their welcome, God knows what their rejection amounts to,” said Jim Boone, a gay representative of Irvine Citizens United Against Measure N.

“All one can say is clearly they wanted, desired and claimed the right to discriminate on moral grounds,” he said. “One can only assume they have every intention of doing so.”

Also Monday, someone placed a sign reading City of Fear over a sign saying City of Irvine. And Victoria Miller, a leader of Irvine Citizens United Against Measure N, said a Latino woman told her that she has decided not to move into the city because she believes that the vote has established a climate of fear and distrust.

Irvine City Atty. Roger Grable said gays with discrimination complaints will be referred to mediation services, as before. However, if they are not satisfied with the results, they will have to rely on state instead of city law.

But Grable said test cases have yet to prove whether gays are covered by statewide anti-bias legislation.

Peotter said Measure N passed last week by a 6% margin because “the majority of people in Irvine feel homosexuality isn’t right.”

Passage does not mean “open season on homosexuals,” he added. “It means we go back to a level playing field.”

Since Election Day, he said, his group has received calls from Riverside and San Diego and from as far away as Massachusetts and Alaska from people wanting to know how they can overturn an existing or proposed ordinance protecting gay rights. “The tide is changing,” he said.

Anti-gay forces also made it clear that the publicity garnered by the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon and the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition since the vote last week should have gone to their group, which they said did the real work.

The Measure N campaign was a grass-roots effort by 350 members of the Irvine coalition, some of whom were upset by Sheldon’s remarks that he was responsible for the measure’s success, Shea said.

“It’s important to our supporters that people who read about the success of Measure N know it was not Lou Sheldon or (Rep.) William Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) who was responsible,” he said. “It was 350 supporters who worked their hearts out.”

Peotter added that while Sheldon’s statewide constituency is composed almost totally of evangelical Christians, the Irvine group attracts a more diverse group of local people, including Mormons and Roman Catholics.


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