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Locals mull gay marriage weigh-ins by Starr, Brown

By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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Folsom’s trio of high-profile people around the gay- marriage issue have various reactions to the joining of the fray this month by even higher-profile notables Kenneth Starr and Jerry Brown. Former Folsom Mayor Glenn Fait and rights activist Lance Chih are gay residents opposed to Prop. 8 to ban same-sex marriage, and a Folsom-based law firm is run by attorney Andrew Pugno, who is legal counsel for the Yes on 8 forces. The ballot measure is being challenged in court. Fait served on the Folsom City Council from 1994 to 1998, and was mayor during 1995 and 1996. In October, his quarter-page news ad announced he is gay and called on residents who knew him from his career in politics to put his face and character to the marriage issue when discussing the question and voting on it. His action drew national media attention. The month of December saw Yes on 8 forces hire Starr, former federal special prosecutor during the Clinton administration and current dean of Pepperdine University Law School. “Starr is dean of Pepperdine Law School, and a conservative, but it makes me remember that Illinois Gov. Rod Blago-jevich is a graduate of Pepper-dine,” Fait said. “Yes on 8 had one Pepperdine law professor saying absolutely stupid things, like ‘(defeat of Prop. 8) would force ministers to marry gay people in churches.’ I don’t know where he got his law degree.” Pugno’s group, called “Protect Marriage,” announced that Starr would argue the Prop. 8 case before the state Supreme Court. “The addition of … Starr to this legal conversation will provide useful guidance for the court in resolving these important issues,” Pugno said. Chih, who has sued Folsom-Cordova Unified School District claiming gender discrimination and failure to protect his rights, said he could only guess at Protect Marriage’s motive in hiring Starr. “One part of me thinks they believe the Supreme Court may (be inclined to) overturn Prop. 8,” Chih said. “Another part thinks they want to show strong support from high-profile people.” The month of December also saw the California attorney general, Brown, request that the state Supreme Court overturn the ban on gay marriage enacted in November by Prop. 8. Brown said the measure “without compelling justification” stripped gay Californians of liberty guaranteed by the State Constitution. “I appreciated that,” Fait said. “I think it’s a smart political move for him.” Pugno said, “It will take some time to digest this new and unusual legal argument he (Brown) has created.” Said Chih, “When he was governor, he did a lot for the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community. I’m happy he’s sticking with his support.” The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com.