Anne Marie Schubert is poised to become the next Sacramento County district attorney and, as a consequence, the most high-profile gay person to ever win a countywide office.
Schubert isn’t running as a gay candidate but as a champion for public safety. She doesn’t hide her orientation but doesn’t think it should define her, either.
“Don’t vote for me because I’m gay or not gay. Vote for me because I’m the most qualified for the job,” she said.
That Schubert is open but not an advocate for anything but the principles of her profession partly describes why Sacramento’s gay community is glaringly outside her varied tent of supporters.
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Ultimately, DAs are best judged by their record of achieving justice.
But Schubert’s ascension and her disconnect with politically active segments of Sacramento’s gay community would have been unimaginable a few years ago.
It was only eight years ago that West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon “came out” to his constituents after virtually hiding who he was his entire political career.
“The pressure and the stigma and sometimes the all-too-casual bigotry in this town made it painfully clear when I first ran for office that I could either serve this community or I could be a gay man. But I could not be both,” Cabaldon said at the time.
It was less than seven years ago that a 26-year-old gay man named Satender Singh was beaten to death at Lake Natoma. His suspected killer fled the country.
It was less than six years ago that Sacramento was the nerve center for the passage of Proposition 8, the statewide voter-approved initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The measure was overturned by the courts in 2010, but it was less than a year ago that the legal maneuvering concluded and same-sex marriages resumed in California.
Now marriage equality is sweeping the country and the endorsement of gay leaders in Sacramento has become very valuable.
So far, those leaders are throwing their support behind Schubert’s main rival – Maggy Krell.
At 35, Krell is 15 years younger than Schubert. She has an impressive résumé, serving as a Stockton prosecutor and under state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Krell is straight, married, a mom of two small children – and a decided underdog to Schubert in the June 3 primary election for DA.
This is because – with all due respect – Krell doesn’t match Schubert’s experience at this stage of her life. She could make a great DA in 10 years.
But Krell does have the support of gay leaders right now.
Krell was an early member of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Greater Sacramento, which promotes equal rights regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, and has the group’s endorsement.
She also participated in events promoting AIDS awareness.
“Our criteria for someone we support is: Will that person be a champion for our community?” said Darrick Lawson, a founding member of the Stonewall Democrats club in Sacramento. “That’s Maggy Krell.”
Schubert, who is raising two children with her partner, is a Republican and most politically active gay leaders in Sacramento are Democrats, but that only tells part of the story here.
A lot of it has to do with how Schubert is perceived in the gay community.
Lawson referred to Schubert as “a reluctant member of our community.” He described conversations with her as “awkward” and said she referred to the gay community as “your community.” “She goes to events all over town, but she doesn’t come to our events,” Lawson said.
And then there is her relation to the Sacramento gay community’s Public Enemy No. 1. That would be Frank Schubert, Anne Marie’s older brother, who ran the Proposition 8 campaign and similar ones in other states that banned same-sex marriage.
Frank Schubert also recently led a failed attempt to repeal a new state law that expands the rights of transgender students.
While trying to drum up support for Krell, Lawson has linked Anne Marie Schubert to her brother without mentioning to prospective supporters that she is gay.
He makes no apologies. “I don’t think family members should be held against you, but she has done fundraisers at his house,” Lawson said.
“He has endorsed her and is giving her money.” To Lawson and others, that makes Anne Marie Schubert’s relationship to Frank Schubert fair game when assessing her candidacy.
“Using my brother against me takes away from my qualifications for the position,” Anne Marie Schubert said.
“Just because my brother supports me doesn’t mean I agree with him. I love my brother, but I disagree with him on issues related to marriage equality … We don’t agree on all things, but he agrees I am the most qualified for the job.”
Schubert also has widespread support among most law-enforcement leaders because of her stellar career. She recently secured a life sentence without parole for a child molester whose gruesome deeds cannot be described in a family newspaper.
Her work in the use of DNA helped land the arrest and conviction of a notorious rapist about to escape justice because the statute of limitations was going to expire on his crimes.
Schubert also devotes her spare time to programs aimed at preventing high school students from following a well-worn path from truancy to crime.
On March 26, Schubert has a chance to gain the support of the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce PAC, a relatively new group of gay business leaders who can endorse candidates of any party.
“Some people want me to be a gay leader, but I’m a public safety advocate and that’s why I’m running for DA,” Schubert said.
In this case, the best candidate for the office of Sacramento district attorney happens to be gay.
But whether anyone in the gay community endorses her is another matter.