After Alex Gill-Gerards approached the Aliso Viejo City Council on March 7, he was on a mission to spark change.
Alex and Rick Gill-Gerards, Aliso Viejo residents who wed last year in Canada—where gay marriage was legal—are lobbying Orange County mayors to sign the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry pledge.
Aliso Viejo’s mayor, Donald Garcia, told Alex in an email and in person that as mayor he would not be signing the pledge.
“I can’t act as an individual. That’s the thing that people aren’t understanding,” Garcia said. “I am just one person amongst five. Everything is done by a vote.”
Garcia later told Patch and the Gill-Gerards that he personally does not have a problem with gay marriage, but as mayor of a common law city he will not sign.
“I understand their position and what they want to do,” Garcia said.
Alex said he plans to send Garcia a thank you letter. He hopes Garcia will issue a statement personally supporting gay marriage.
“This would be a victory in our opinion,” Alex said.
But Garcia said the way the pledge was presented left a “bad taste" in his mouth. The document stated Garcia “personally knows” gay couples in committed, long-term relationships who are active participants in the city. With the exception of the Gill-Gerards, that's untrue, Garcia said.
The mayor also said he was unhappy that his name already appeared on the pledge, awaiting his signature.
Laguna Beach Mayor Jane Egly signed the pledge in March. Although her city is also a common law city, Egly told Laguna Beach Patch, "I am simply following a very long tradition in Laguna Beach. We value all our citizens and the diversity we have.”
Garcia's response: “They run their city differently than I do.”