From Canyon To Cove: Plugging along on his way to the primary

Fred Karger is on a roll.

He says last week he was the first presidential candidate to personally file for the New Hampshire primary. Then he learned that his nemeses, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and, lost a federal ruling seeking to keep from the public the names of those who contribute to their anti-same sex marriage initiatives.

Karger, a retired Republican political consultant turned "out" gay activist, became known in Laguna Beach some years ago for trying to salvage the Boom Boom Room, an iconic gay bar where actor Rock Hudson was known to hang his hat.

Then came the 2008 California Supreme Court ruling sanctioning same-sex marriages, and shortly thereafter NOM and swung into action with a state ballot measure that took away those rights.

There was a brief six-month window of opportunity for California same-sex couples to be legally wed before Proposition 8 was approved during the November presidential election and the hammer came down on couples' wedding plans.

During the heated Prop. 8 campaign, Karger mounted his own, virtually one-man effort to expose those behind the anti-same-sex marriage initiative, which included some high-profile businesses with large gay clientele.

After discovering the owner's name on a list of major campaign donors, he led a successful boycott of Bolthouse Farms, a Bakersfield-based health juice maker, which led to a settlement; he also put a dent into the business of San Diego hotelier Doug Manchester, another major donor to the anti-same sex marriage cause.

He also went after the Mormon church, trying to uncover financial links between the Church of Latter-day Saints and the political organizations that overturned gay marriage rights in Maine and in other states. Again, his main weapon was to name names and bring the financial backers into the sunshine.

Three years ago, NOM began to try to turn the tables on Karger, "calling him out" and demanding an end to "political harassment" of their supporters. Like vampires, these folks do not want to be exposed to the light of day, so they filed a lawsuit trying to have themselves exempted from rules requiring donors' names be made public — a highly dangerous idea in a democracy.

A subpoena demanded that Karger fork over all of his emails and other documentation — including communications to reporters and supporters — in an obvious effort to intimidate him.

That went nowhere. As Karger said this week in an email, after a two-year battle, there has been "no deposition, no emails and no documents turned over."

All along the way, Karger has picked up tremendous support in his quest for "equality for all," support that prompted him to seek the nation's highest office — as a Republican.

In an interesting year for Republican presidential politics, Karger — although he has yet to be part of a major debate — is probably the most interesting candidate of all.

CINDY FRAZIER is city editor of the Coastline Pilot. She can be contacted at (949) 302-1469 or

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