Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has added his voice to the chorus of people calling for the resignation of Dixon Vice Mayor Ted Hickman.
Hickman became the target of scrutiny after a controversial column he wrote in the town's newspaper – calling for a Straight American Pride Month and using a derogatory term to refer to gay men – went viral.
"We are different from them ... We work, have families, (and babies we make) enjoy and love the company (and marriage) of the opposite sex and don't flaunt our differences dressing up like faries (sic) and prancing by the thousands in a parade," he wrote in his column.
Since its June 29 publication in Dixon’s Independent Voice newspaper, the column has since been the topic of intense media interest and has generated numerous posts on Facebook and Twitter.
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“Public servants must uphold basic standards of decency,” Steinberg said on Twitter. “Ted Hickman violated these standards with his vile newspaper column denigrating people based on their sexual orientation. He should resign as vice mayor of Dixon or be voted out."
Steinberg said he could not be silent after reading the column. "It's pretty basic. Silence implies going along," he said Friday when asked about his Tweet. "It's simply not acceptable to go along with bigotry."
Remarks like the ones made by Hickman are even more egregious when made by a public official, Steinberg said. "You forfeit your right to hold public leadership when you purposefully and blatantly discriminate against others," he said.
Steinberg said his opinion is not political. "This is the awful stuff," he said. "... There are too many LGBT members of our community who still feel the sting of discrimination and who are treated badly and talked about badly."
Sacramento's mayor says he will continue to speak out on the issue, but he's not sure whether he will communicate with Dixon council members or continue to voice his opinions on the matter on social media.
"I wanted to make sure I'm not silent," he said. "I probably represent a lot of members and leaders of the LGBT community and they know where I stand. I want to always let them know I have their back."
Dixon City Councilman Devon Minnema also expressed his displeasure with the column, calling it disturbing in a Facebook post on Saturday.
"I have known what kind of person he is for a long time, but have never garnered enough community or council support to take action. I hope the other councilmen will see through the ideology of hate that they share with him and do the right thing in the coming weeks," he said in part.
Equality California, the largest branch of a national nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ rights, also called for Hickman's resignation in a statement Monday, as did an online Care2 Petition that has garnered 18,139 supporters.
A Facebook page, launched shortly after the publication of the column, is calling for Hickman's removal from office and has posted an invitation to the Dixon City Council meeting on Tuesday. More than 160 people have indicated that they intend to attend, while another 527 have expressed interest in the event.
"We have brought awareness," said Heather Eckert, who launched the Facebook page. She said that Hickman should not hold public office when he has such discriminatory views.
Eckert said a peaceful protest is planned at 6:30 that evening in front of City Hall.
The council meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a closed session. The open session is expected to begin at about 6:50 p.m. Public comment will be taken at the beginning of the open session, according to the agenda.
Hickman is up for re-election in November. Eckert said there are a number of people ready to run against Hickman. "At this point even Elmo would be better, Bert or Ernie, or someone," she said.
Efforts by The Bee to reach Hickman since June 30 have been unsuccessful.