Kevin and Don Norte
Kevin and Don Norte are a gay rights activist couple based in Los Angeles and involved at a grassroots level. They were both Log Cabin Republicans. http://www.advocate.com/news/2008/10/08/love-stories-kevin-and-don-norte
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Don Norte is credited with being one of the first openly gay Republican appointees to a governing body, when California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. The Governor's Committee is charged with developing a comprehensive strategy to assist disabled youth and adults to enter the workforce by focusing on the needs and interests of the worker, the employer, and the community. Don's appointed position did not require Senate confirmation and the position does not receive a salary. Don's term does not expire but Don serves at the will of the Governor of California. That Governor is now Jerry Brown. Don was the first Log Cabin Republican to remain an appointee under Democratic Governor Jerry Brown's administration.
In 2004, Don was involved in the Bobby Shriver for Santa Monica City Council Campaign and was one of about 10 named prominent community leader endorsers in Shriver's campaign literature.
Don Norte's career covers over twenty years of public service with Federal, State, and local government, including the US Defense Department and the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Don holds a BA from Montclair State University in New Jersey, and Master's degree from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he studied under Professor Rae Zimmerman, among others. Don served on the Board of Directors and later as President of the California Public Parking Association. Don has been employed by the City of West Hollywood's Department of Transportation and Public Works since 1990 and currently holds the position of Parking Services and Development Officer for the City’s parking division. Don currently served on the board of Log Cabin Republicans – Los Angeles and he currently resides in Hollywood with his partner since high school, and now husband, Kevin.
In 2010, both Kevin and Don Norte were co-hosts at a fundraiser for Democratic San Francisco Assembly person and Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma for Fiona Ma's expected bid for the California Senate in 2014 (or 2012 depending on the election results for the new mayor of San Francisco).
Kevin Norte (aka Kevin Miguel) is a gay Republican American attorney, community activist, and legal analyst. A former CPA, he began his legal career as a law clerk in 1991, later becoming an attorney, working in the public sector in Los Angeles County. He is a prominent gay Republican blogger, was involved with a pilot for a television series with Susan Berman prior to her murder, writes on-line continuing education classes, and occasionally writes opinion pieces for such newspapers as the Los Angeles Times, Daily Journal, and The Metropolitan News-Enterprise in Los Angeles.
The legal analyst was the City of West Hollywood's Rent Stabilization Commission's first openly gay chair. He was appointed by then-City Council member Paul Koretz in 1992 and served as chair for two one-year terms. According to City of West Hollywood public records, it was Kevin that initiated the policy of rotating the chair person of the commission on a yearly basis. From incorporation to 1994, according to city documents, the chair of the commission was the same person. Norte changed that with the help of two other commissioners. He served on the commission until he and his domestic partner Don moved to Hollywood. in 1999.
After the death of Miguel Contreras, Martin Ludlow began his short-lived rise to succeed him as the County's labor leader before he was indicted. Contreras had been the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO). Ludlow resigned from his City Council position in anticipation of becoming Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the County Fed. Ludlow was challenged by Kevin Norte, a member of AFSCME Local 910. Kevin and Chavez withdrew without comment shortly prior to the election and have not spoken on the record about the events that transpired prior to the July 2005 election.
In early 2006, Kevin was appointed to the California Administrative Office of the Court's Trial Court Employee Working Group. The working group provides input to the Administrative Director of the Courts on the preparation, development, and implementation of the budget for the trial courts. The working group also shares information on other topics affecting the judicial branch and court employees. Also during 2006-2008, Kevin served as an "Alternative Member" of the County Central Committee of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County for the 42nd Assembly District.
Kevin serves as treasurer for AFSCME Local 910, completed his term on the State Bar of California's Committee on the Administration of Justice and remains, as of 2011, a delegate to Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO. He was a trustee of the Log Cabin Republicans and a former board member of LCR-California's Political Action Committee. Currently, Kevin is the main Blogger for BlogCabin of Hollywood.
Log Cabin Republicans
Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) joined with the Schwarzenegger administration to actively recruit LGBT representatives in Sacramento.
The inclusion of the LGBT community was significant in that the positions were launching points for both Republicans and Democrats. Log Cabin California Director James Vaughn made recruitment from LCR a top priority, and succeeded in recruiting the first openly gay Republican to serve on a highly visible political post in the Schwarzenegger administration.
"This is part of our campaign to develop a farm team of candidates for public office â€“ getting our members to be involved on state and local boards and commissions."Kevin and Don Norte were the only same sex couple to publicly endorse the Republican Schwarzenegger and were involved in the inauguration as a same sex couple in the program brochure  The Nortes were sponsors of Log Cabin Republicans/Liberty Education Forum in Denver in 2007 and in San Diego in 2008 according to both program's booklets. The slightly right of center couple was also a table sponsor for Equality California's Gala Dinner in Los Angeles in the summer of 2008.
According to a recent blog by Huffington Post blogger Ryan J. Davis, Davis flew out to Hollywood near the end of February to join a coalition of gay activists to lobby Gov. Schwarzenegger & First Lady Maria Shriver to publicly oppose the Family Research Council's Anti-Gay Marriage initiative. According to Davis, one of the group's main organizers, Kevin Norte, wrote on The California Log Cabin blog, "Someone had to fire the first shot. We did. We had some powerhouses there and the message was clear. We were not going away."
As reported in The Huffington Post, the coalition had a broad base, including Matt Foreman (former Executive Director, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force), Damon Romine (Former Entertainment Media Director, GLAAD), Geoff Kors (Former Executive Director, Equality California), Charles Robbins (Executive Director, The Trevor Project), John Duran (President, Equality California & City Councilperson West Hollywood), Charles Moran, the Log Cabin Republicans' former LA Chapter President and LCR-CA VP, 2010, James Vaughn (former LCR CA Director)], and the organizers, Don Norte (Governor's Committee on Labor for People With Disabilities) and Kevin Norte (LCR CA Member, and former LCR-PAC Board of Directors).
On April 11, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger officially announced his opposition to the Initiative at LCR's National Convention. At Log Cabin's 2009 convention, Kevin Norte received the group's "Grassroots Leader Award". In May 2010, the couple represented LCR at the Long Beach Gay & Lesbian Pride Festival.
Involvement in Challenges to Proposition 8
Kevin Norte authored an opinion piece in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise of Los Angeles six days after the California Supreme Court's ruling on May 15, 2008 ruling in In re Marriage Cases (2008) 43 Cal. 4th 757. That case is precedent-setting because it found the right to Same-sex marriage in California. Norte analyzed the repercussion the case would have on Proposition 8, the ballot initiative on the November 4, 2008 ballot.
That case found several constitutional rights under the California Constitution and Kevin queried whether those constitutional rights could be simply abolished by a voter initiative or would the legislature have to place a constitutional revision on the ballot or determine whether a constitutional convention would have to be held.
Kevin Norte is the first legal analyst to publish an article in a legal newspaper of public record on the interactions between the historic Supreme Court's ruling and the California Initiative process. He explored the topic further in another expanded article in the Met-News on June 17, 2008, the first full day that gay marriage became legal in California. The legal education piece was entitled, "Election Law: How One Legally Might Remove a Ballot Initiative Prior to an Election". Norte posited that the language of the initiative was flawed and outdated. The legal analyst concluded that one could legitimately argue that the Court order the "California Secretary of State, to remove the proposed 'Limit on Marriage' Constitutional Amendment Initiative [Proposition 8] from the November, 2008 ballot." The Supreme Court rejected this argument on July 16, 2008 without comment or ruling on the merits of the "revision" argument.
On June 20, 2008, the pro-same-gender marriage parties file a Writ of Mandate in the California Supreme Court in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle reporter Bob Elko reported that the coalition filed a writ to seek removal of the initiative. The grounds state in the writ petition were similar to those discussed in both the May 21, 2008 and June 17, 2008 articles authored by Norte but failed to reference the official reporter pages of the case. Kevin's second article contained the proper citations.
Norte has called the denial of the stay the start of what could be the "Gay Marriage Industrial Complex" with a gay marriage on the ballot at every election for the foreseeable future similar to the parental notification for underage abortion initiative.
In January 2009, the law firm of White and Case submitted an amicus brief on behalf of Log Cabin Republicans in the Supreme Court challenge to Proposition 8 based on Norte's writings. On May 26, 2009 the California Supreme Court upheld the validity of California's Proposition 8, however Associate Justice Carlos Moreno (most recently considered for an appointment to the United States Supreme Court) basically agreed with Norte's analysis. Moreno held that Prop. 8 should have been voided as an unlawful amendment. "The majority's holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution", he wrote. In the meantime, the Court carved out an exception for the 18,000 couples married while it was legal in California, including the Nortes.
The former Solicitor General of the United States, Theodore Olson, filed a challenge to Proposition 8 in Federal Court based on a violation of Federal Equal Protection using the historic ROMER case as its precedent. As of 2010, Kevin authored a follow-up opinion piece to his 2008 marriage articles in which he praised California Supreme Court Associate Justice Carlos Moreno for having the courage for arguing that Norte's Revisionist Theory of Marriage is the correct analysis of the California Constitution, that issues like the constitutional right to "gay marriage" is a "legally certainty" but that it will not be "politically correct" for some time, and encouraged Judge Vaughn Walker to do the right thing and strike down California's Propposition 8 for what it is—discrimination."
After Judge Vaughn Walker handed down his decision finding California's Proposition 8 "discrimination" echoing Norte's opinion expressed in his article, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in keeping his commitment to his friends, Log Cabin Republicans and the LGBT community in general sought to have the ruling applied immediately and commented. "The administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the court's judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California", lawyers for Schwarzenegger said in the legal filing. "Doing so is consistent with California's long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect."
Context of same sex couples taking one name in California
Kevin and Don Norte are acknowledged as being one of the first openly gay couples in 2005 to test the applicability of AB 205 intended to match the rights of domestic partnerships to married couples.
The language provided in California Family Code § 297.5 (a), reads as follows:
Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, duties, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.
During the Legislative Session 2006-07, California AB 102 was drafted by San Francisco Assemblymember Fiona Ma after the Norte's legal name status was called into question after the CA DMV adopted a policy to intentionally block other domestic partners after the Nortes from applying the California Family Code in a similar manner. The Nortes' involvement was mentioned in the description of a George Takei interview on Larry King.
AB 102 expanded on the concept of allowing domestic partners to take the name of a spouse, to include married couples so the husband would have the right to assume the last name of the wife. AB 102 was inclusive and consistent with Fam. Code § 297.5 by addressing marriages of different or the same genders. Name changes processed for domestic partners after AB 205 and prior to AB 102 originally permitted individuals to proceed with subsequent name change actions, including social security and passport documents. AB 102 passed the Assembly with three Republican votes: Sam Blakeslee, Roger Niello, and Anthony Adams. It passed the Senate on a straight party vote.
The reaction from opponents was swift after the Governor signed the bill. "AB 102 allows homosexual couples to hold themselves out as married by permitting them to choose the same surname upon registration of their 'domestic partnership,'" said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families. The bill granted unmarried couples married last names. "Schwarzenegger and the Democrat politicians have created the public image of homosexual "marriages" in California," said Thomasson in response to the signing of AB 102. "It's hypocritical for Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto homosexual "'marriage'" licenses and at the very same time aggressively promote the public image of gay and lesbian "'marriages'" in every community for every child to see." Nonetheless, the Nortes' position on their name was finally resolved in the 2006-07 legislative session when AB 102 was signed into law by the Governor because the law was made retroactive.
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