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Mayor Explains Why He Won't Sign Gay Marriage Petition

Mayor Donald Garcia says he doesn't have a problem with same-sex nuptials but can't act as an individual in a common-law city.

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.”

Corrine K April 02, 2012 at 11:56 PM
How DOES Don Garcia "run" his city? By dodging the tough questions until he finally gets pinned down by citizens and the press? His answer to this request has changed since day one, when he had another council person chase down these gentlemen and ask them to submit their request in writing. That was because it needed to be agendized. Then, he couldn't answer because Aliso Viejo is a general law city. Then it was because he couldn't speak on behalf of the council as an individual. Now, it turns out, after further review, the document leaves a "bad taste" in his mouth. Come on. Pick a position and stick with it.
Kathleen K April 03, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Is Don Garcia the only common-law mayor that cannot sign the pledge? How did Laguna Beach sign? Less time dancing, more time leading, please.
Green Mavin April 03, 2012 at 01:22 AM
So Don Garcia "runs" his city as an individual, but responds to tough questions as a group of 5 councilmen?
Alex Gill-Gerards April 03, 2012 at 01:29 AM
11 mayors from "common-law" cities have signed the pledge as individuals in California, other mayors that have signed on within the State are charter cities.
Davis Gerard April 03, 2012 at 07:10 AM
So according to these gentlemen, there is no legal reason holding Don Garcia back from signing, and according to Don Garcia himself, there is no moral reason holding him back. So sign already, and stop all of the political sidestepping.
MayMom April 03, 2012 at 01:56 PM
There is a reason. The Ballot Box. This is a subject that politically could blow up in his face. A better question is to ask him when he is up for re-election.
Davis Gerard April 03, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Mayor Don Garcia is up for re-election this November. See, I can answer questions. It just takes a little effort.
MayMom April 03, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Nice - I support your cause and wish you the best of luck. I think his record will speak volumes. He hasn't been very popular in the press lately. Unless he really starts to work for the better of the community, he might struggle at the ballot box. As a representative of Aliso Viejo, he needs to serve the whole community not just specific groups.
Davis Gerard April 03, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I should clarify. Although my name is similar to the gentlemen in the story, I am not related. I am just a supporter of fair representation, and open government; two things we have not received from this mayor. If you refer back to the threats of litigation because of his activities just last year, and the numerous negative comments that he scoffed off as statements of "ignorance," Don Garcia simply does not represent his constituency; only his hand-picked favorites.
MayMom April 03, 2012 at 07:13 PM
My apologies. I still support the cause.
Kathleen K April 03, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I support this cause, and also Mr. Gerard's goal of open government. I don't think that citizen should have called Mr. Garcia "an idiot" but I think some of these antics are ridiculous. The voters are smart enough to recognize when a politician is being evasive, or pandering for votes.
Green Mavin April 03, 2012 at 09:53 PM
This fall, Aliso Viejo citizens will have a chance to vote for its leadership based on what we have seen thus far, and what we read in the ballot statements. Everyone should recall how these citizens were treated by our current mayor, and recognize his statements for what they are; egotistical and self-serving.
Davis Gerard April 04, 2012 at 05:14 AM
So Don Garcia "runs the city" all by himself? What about the other 4 council members, the staff, the volunteers? I guess in his mind, it is all about him. At the ballot box, it will be all about anyone else the voters can vote for.

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