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Gays, Dannemeyer Backers Trade Insults : Protest: Activists engage in a shouting match with members of Young Americans for Freedom, gathered to honor the congressman.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Shouting, “We’re here, we’re queer, and so are some of you,” gay protesters faced off against members of a right-wing student organization Saturday that was honoring Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton).

Dannemeyer, an outspoken opponent of homosexual rights, was awarded the “Guardian of Freedom Award” by Young Americans for Freedom because the organization believes he embodies “traditional family values.”

A shouting match erupted early in the day when a dozen YAF members confronted the gay protesters outside the Airporter Hotel, sang the Star Spangled Banner and taunted the pickets with “Say no, homo.”

Dressed in navy suits and ties, YAF members stood about 25 yards from gay pickets outside the hotel, across the street from John Wayne Airport. Meanwhile, curious onlookers watched as the two sides traded insults for nearly 20 minutes, with the gays displaying banners reading, “No Nazis, No KKK, no fascist USA” and YAF members holding up anti-abortion signs.

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About 40 police officers and a dozen police cars remained on standby in a parking lot nearby, monitoring the situation. However, the demonstration ended peacefully about 2 p.m. with no reported arrests.

Dannemeyer was among several conservatives attending the two-day western regional conference that was also scheduled to include Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Lomita), Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach) and William Allen, former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Speakers discussed a range of topics, including what it means to be a conservative and the importance of youth activism. Huntington Beach Mayor Thomas J. Mays also attended the convention.

“Our primary gripe is with Dannemeyer,” said Kevin Farrell, a member of the Orange County Visibility League, a gay-rights activist organization. “We see (YAF) basically as a fascist organization, and we know they are going to use lesbians, gays and women today as whipping boys.”

Carrie Florer, 21, of Garden Grove said she came to the demonstration to protest bigotry toward homosexuals. “We’re not just going to let them sit around and say vicious things about us,” she said. “Their idea of freedom is fascism. They are very anti-gay and white supremacist.”

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A YAF board member called the protesters “silly.”

“So, we had a couple of people yelling ‘Nazi’ at us. It doesn’t make one iota of difference,” said James Bieber, 24, a field representative for Ferguson. “A lot of people are not aware of the perversions of homosexuality. We want people to know it’s not just wearing a pink shirt and being an interior decorator.”

Inside, YAF members lunched, applauded conservative candidates and listened to speeches by Ferguson and Allen, both conservatives who have generated controversy over their public comments against homosexual rights.

Ferguson came under fire three months ago for calling gay protesters “faggots” as he was leaving the Power Community Church in Anaheim, where he was appearing with the Rev. Louis Sheldon, a leading proponent of anti-gay measures that appeared on the ballot in several California cities last November.

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Allen, a professor at Harvey Mudd College, resigned from the Commission on Civil Rights shortly after giving a controversial speech in Anaheim last October titled “Blacks? Animals? Homosexuals? What is a minority?” The speech by the nation’s top civil rights official created an angry outcry from the gay community and prompted widespread criticism of Allen.

At Saturday’s conference, anti-homosexual jokes peppered the table conversation. “AIDS is the cure, not the problem,” one member said.

Other events scheduled for later in the evening included a “Right-Wing Song Contest.”


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