A former NBA basketball star who is a mayoral candidate for the city of Sacramento has been denounced by activists for stating his opposition to homosexual marriage. His opposition, they claim, makes him “not ready to lead this city.”
According to the California Catholic Daily, Kevin Johnson, 42, played for 12 seasons in the NBA before returning to Sacramento to start a non-profit agency to renew a rundown neighborhood and to educate underprivileged children. Political observers believe his bid to unseat incumbent Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo could succeed.
Near the end of a forum for mayoral candidates on May 7, each candidate was asked to give a yes or no answer to the question “Do you support gay marriage?” All of the seven candidates except for Johnson answered yes. Johnson said, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”
A group of homosexual political activists called a press conference the next day to denounce Johnson’s comments.
“It hit me like a brick,” said Gretchen Bender, a member of the county Board of Education and the first openly lesbian candidate ever elected to public office in Sacramento County. “I've been working with Kevin on this issue. But, based on that comment at the forum, I now think he is acting on religious grounds, and he is not ready to lead this city.”
Six other lesbians involved in Sacramento politics were also part of the press conference.
Johnson, a “born-again Christian,” said his position on same-sex marriage is based on his religious beliefs. After the press conference, Johnson issued a statement in which he pledged his support for various other rights for homosexual couples, saying, “I fully support and will defend the present laws of California recognizing the rights and obligations of same-sex couples in civil unions.”
“I also support equal benefits such as insurance and leave for same-sex couples. The issue of marriage is presently before the California Supreme Court, and I will uphold the law as the court makes its decision. I have never tolerated discrimination or harassment of any kind, and will continue to be vigilant in those efforts,” he said.
Sacramento’s mayoral election will be held on June 3.