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County Panel Condemns Acosta for Anti-Gay Quip After Brawl

September 15, 1989|LILY ENG | Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Human Relations Commission passed an emergency ordinance Thursday night unanimously condemning an anti-gay remark by Santa Ana City Councilman John Acosta after last weekend's volatile Gay Pride Festival.

The commission also asked Acosta to publicly disavow violence against gays and lesbians, after a festival organizer complained about the councilman's public comments on violence that erupted at the festival, where six people were arrested after a wild fistfight.

Commission Director Rusty Kennedy said the emergency action was an effort to defuse controversy that could be stirred by Acosta's remark in an interview with The Times Orange County Edition.

Told of the commission's decision, Acosta said he never advocated violence against gays and lesbians. "If they want to read into the statement, there's nothing I could ever say that would change their minds. They are being so adamant about it."

Interviewed after Sunday's brawl between militant gays and picketing fundamentalists at Centennial Regional Park, Acosta said: "I probably would have been in jail today for clobbering some of those . . . people."

John J. Duran--attorney for Orange County Cultural Pride, the organizing agency of the festival--asked the commission to condemn that statement. Duran said that such a statement is equivalent to verbal gay-bashing and that it is inappropriate for a public official to condone violence.

Human Relations Commissioner Daniel H. Ninburg said he was "flabbergasted" by Acosta's statement.

"He should retract the statement in the best interest of the community," he said.

The emergency resolution adopted by the eight commission members in attendance Thursday reads: "The commission condemns as inflammatory the statement attributed to Councilman Acosta for its apparent endorsement of violence, and asks that he publicly disavow his reported statement and disavow violence against gays and lesbians as a method of expressing disagreement."

Asked whether he will retract his remarks, Acosta said: "The gays have painted themselves as amiable people, but the fact remains the festival had a riot."

The 11-member commission was created in 1971 to resolve problems relating to prejudice, discrimination and disorder in human relations.

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