Retaliation against supporters of Proposition 8 continued in California as homosexual activists have worked to remove a 96-year-old man from a theater board appointed by the Oakland City Council. Though he won defenders, the Oakland mayor has withdrawn his appointment pending “further consideration.”
Lorenzo Hoopes has volunteered with the Paramount Theatre of the Arts for decades and had been on its board of directors for 20 years, the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) reports. A former Safeway executive, he also served on the Oakland school board for 17 years.
Hoopes is also a former president of Oakland’s Latter Day Saints temple. In the 1950s he served as executive assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, who would go on to become the LDS Church’s thirteenth president.
While his reappointment to the theatre board would normally be routine, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists are protesting the move because he donated $26,000 to support the Prop. 8 campaign. The 2008 measure successfully restored the state’s definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
LGBT activist Michael Colbruno told the Oakland Tribune that his reappointment was “so insulting” in light of the federal trial challenging the constitutionality of Prop. 8.
“It’s so typical that the gay community in Oakland is being run over by a bus. If this were San Francisco, there would be 300 people in the streets,” Colbruno claimed.
Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner has expressed doubts that the Council would reappoint Hoopes, PJI says.
However, Prop. 8 opponent Councilman Larry Raid said he should be reappointed.
“This is America. No matter how controversial the issue is, someone like him should be appointed based on his ability to serve and based on his past contributions to the city,” he said.
Prop. 8 was approved by 52 percent of California voters. In Oakland’s county of Alameda, 62 percent of voters opposed the measure.
PJI president Brad Dacus defended Hoopes, saying:
“The intolerance and hate of gay activists seems to know no bounds. Persecuting a 96-year-old philanthropist and civic leader, simply because he supports traditional marriage, is outrageous. We’ve heard and seen a lot of abuse and harassment directed at Prop. 8 supporters over the last two years, but this is beyond the pale.”
Byron Williams, a columnist with the Mercury News, reported that Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums had the nominations of Hoopes and others pulled for "further consideration."