OAKLAND, Calif. — A gay Jewish San Francisco lawmaker was re-elected following a controversy over his decision to have a baby with a lesbian co-parent.
On November 7, voters in California’s heavily gay Castro, Glen Park and Noe Valley areas gave Bevan Dufty another four-year term on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Dufty became a father on Yom Kippur when his longtime friend and lesbian co-parent, Rebecca Goldfader, gave birth to their daughter, Sidney Maely Goldfader-Dufty. The couple intend to share a home and raise Sidney while continuing to live separate lives.
Eight days after the birth, veteran Bay Area radio and television news anchorman Pete Wilson — not the Republican former California governor of the same name — said on his afternoon radio show that the “Dufty-Goldfader baby is, in my mind, a travesty. Or a potential travesty — perhaps that’s a better way of saying it.”
“I do not now nor have I ever accepted the idea that a baby is a toy, that it is a social science project or a possession,” Wilson said. “A baby is a human being…. It is not an experiment. It is not an opportunity to see how far you can carry your views on parenting, alternative lifestyles or diversity in family structures.”
Four of Dufty’s fellow supervisors quickly called for Wilson’s resignation, and Mayor Gavin Newsom told the San Francisco Chronicle he believed that Wilson should “give some real thought and consideration to the pain he has caused to the parents of Sidney.”
Even Alix Rosenthal, Dufty’s opponent in Tuesday’s election, attended the supervisors’ news conference, repudiating Wilson’s comments to show solidarity and to “make sure it wasn’t a wedge issue in the campaign,” she told the Forward. “Pete Wilson said some boneheaded things that he didn’t mean,” and in doing so, he insulted “everybody who comes from a family with a mom and a dad who didn’t stay married… I just think it was really narrow minded of him.”
Dufty e-mailed Wilson and later copied it to the Chronicle, as well, insisting that he did not want to see the radio host lose his job — a view he reiterated in an interview with the Forward.
Wilson, who didn’t respond to the Forward’s requests for comment, told the Chronicle that he had let his argument “move toward the personal” and that “some of it was inappropriate.”
“That was wrong and unfortunate,” he said, adding, “I still believe the argument is a perfectly appropriate argument. I think the argument needs to take place about the number of directions we have gone with parenting and children.”
Dufty’s campaign Web site biography notes that his childhood “was truly special for a Jewish youngster growing up in America during the ’50s and ’60s,” and that his passion for public activism and community service was instilled in him by his mother, Maely Daniele Dufty, who had “arrived in New York City during World War II after losing most of her family and escaping from the Nazis’ Jewish detention camps.”
San Francisco’s District 8 isn’t heavily Jewish, yet in 2002 Dufty beat Eileen Hansen, also a gay Jew, to succeed Supervisor Mark Leno, another gay Jew who now is a state assemblyman.
Though Rosenthal, an Oakland deputy city attorney, isn’t gay, she says she was raised as a Reform Jew in Claremont, Calif., and is now “shul shopping” in San Francisco.
In a city where all politics are left of center, Dufty takes heat for being cozy with developers and with Newsom, seen locally as relatively conservative despite his national fame for performing gay marriages. Rosenthal said she believes that “what differentiates a progressive from a moderate Democrat are real estate and land-use issues — Bevan is the candidate for landlords, and I am the candidate for tenants,’’ just as he’s more driver oriented while she champions mass transit and bicycles.