SACRAMENTO — The state Senate on Wednesday rejected a former Long Beach City Council member appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the state parole board after lawmakers criticized him for anti-gay remarks he made in 1993.
Douglas Drummond was censured by the council for voicing support for Fidel Castro's sequestering of the AIDS population in Cuba, applauding the fact that same-sex couples don't reproduce and saying about gay political progress: "How do we deal with it short of killing them?"
Speaking to a private meeting of a conservative group, Drummond also said: "Do you know why I don't worry about gay activity? I'm going to give you a clue. So far in San Francisco, over 10,000 have died. In Long Beach, over 1,000 have died. I'm serious."
Drummond, 72, whom Schwarzenegger appointed to the $111,845-a-year-post last summer, told the Senate Rules Committee that he has changed his views, donated money to gay organizations and marched in gay-pride parades. He voted for his own censure in Long Beach.
"I was wrong," Drummond said. "It was awful. I apologize, I really do."
Democratic lawmakers expressed concern that Drummond, a Republican and former police officer, might not be able to make unbiased decisions about whether inmates deserved parole. State Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), who once served with Drummond on the City Council, questioned him at length, suggesting that his efforts at reconciliation with the gay community coincided with his unsuccessful campaigns for Long Beach mayor.
"You made a judgment as an elected official to defame a group of people," she told Drummond. "How would we feel if in some of these quotes, we took out 'homosexual' and inserted 'Mexican American' or 'African American' or 'Jew'? These are serious matters, sir, and they are ones you can't brush under the rug."
Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) leapt to Drummond's defense and attacked Oropeza for "crucifying" him. "This man is not on trial," Aanestad told her.
And state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), who pushed for the censure of Drummond when both were on the City Council, testified on Drummond's behalf, saying he had changed.
But Oropeza, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) voted against confirmation. Aanestad and Sen. Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) voted in favor.
A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger said it was "unfortunate" the committee overlooked Drummond's "fair and unbiased" record on the board since last year.