Don Korotsky Norte

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Don Korotsky Norte is an American gay rights political activist. He is one half of a Los Angeles gay couple who have been together since meeting in high school in 1978. Don's initial desire to marry his high school sweetheart made headlines in a 1995 Los Angeles Times article when the couple expressed their desire to hop on a plane to Hawaii and then seek to enforce their marriage rights in California.[1] The Times article was one of the first that documented the rise of Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA a year later. In 2008 Advocate Magazine featured Norte's marriage to his spouse during the Summer of Love in 2008. Norte and his spouse were both Log Cabin Republicans during the campaign for marriage equality.

Don Norte is credited with being one of the first openly gay Republican[2] appointees[3] to a governing body, when California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger[4] appointed him to the Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.[5] 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.[6] Don's appointed position did not require Senate confirmation and the position does not receive a salary. Norte'sterm does not expire but he serves at the will of the Governor of California. That Governor is now Jerry Brown. Norte was the first Log Cabin Republican to remain an appointee under Democratic Governor Jerry Brown's administration.[7]

In 2004, Norte 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.

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.[8]

Norte 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.[9] 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. Norte 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 2009, Norte was named the Program Chair of CPPAs 25th Annual Conference and secured San Francisco Assemblyperson Fiona Ma as the Keynote Speaker.[10]

In 2010, both Norte and his spouse were co-hosts at a fundraiser for Democratic San Francisco Assembly person and Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma for Fiona Ma's planned bid for the California Senate in 2014 (since then Ma was elected to the California State Board of Equalization representing the Second District.

Don Norte, Maria Shriver, Kevin Norte, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Hotel Bel Air in 2006.
(l-r) BoiFromTroy Conservative Blogger Scott Schmidt, California Secretary of Business Regulations Heather Peters, Log Cabin Republicans - Los Angeles President Charles Moran, & LCR-CA-PAC Board Member Kevin Norte at the California State Republican Convention.

Log Cabin Republicans[edit]

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 visible political post in the Schwarzenegger administration.

"This is part of our campaign to develop a farm team of candidates for public office – getting our members to be involved on state and local boards and commissions."Don and his spouse 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 [11] 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,[12] 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.[13] According to Davis, Norte's spouse, who was the organizer of the evening, 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."[14]

As reported in The Huffington Post, the coalition[15] 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 California Member, and former LCR-PAC Board of Directors).[16]

On April 11, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger officially announced his opposition to the Initiative at LCR's National Convention.[17] 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.[18]

Remaining Schwarzenegger appointee Don Norte and California Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma.

Context of same sex couples taking one name in California[edit]

Norte tested California's "Domestic Partnership" law that promised equality except for the word "marriage"[19] in 2005 by attempting to change his last name to test the applicability of AB 205. That law was intended to match the rights of domestic partnerships to married couples.[20]

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[clarification needed] 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.[21]

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.[22] It passed the Senate on a straight party vote.[23]

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."[24] Nortes' position on their name was resolved in the 2006-07 legislative session when AB 102 was signed into law by the Governor because the law was made retroactive.

End of activism[edit]

During the last days of the 2012 Presidential election, when Log Cabin Republicans announced their last minute endorsement of Mitt Romney, Norte and his husband resigned from Log Cabin Republicans and changed their political affiliation. [25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hawaii Justices Open Door To Legalizing Gay Marriage". Los Angeles Times. March 26, 1995. 
  2. ^ "Political Notebook: Out GOP duo campaign as ticket". The Bay Area Reporter. September 20, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Gov. Schwarzenegger appoints Log Cabin Republicans". IN Los Angeles Magazine. September 2007. 
  4. ^ "Don Norte Appointed To The Governor's Commitee on Employment of People With Disabilities". Log Cabin California Websiter. September 2007. [dead link]
  5. ^ "California Governor Schwarzenegger Announces Appointments". AllAmericanPatriots.com. August 28, 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Governor Schwarzenegger Announces Appointments". Office of the Governor. August 27, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Workforce Partners - Committee Membership". Employment Development Department. State of California. 2010. 
  8. ^ http://blogcabinca.org/2007/08/27/the-gay-republican-takeover-spreads Archived October 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "Rae Zimmerman". NYU Wagner. New York University. 
  10. ^ Note, Don (August 19, 2009). "Assembly member Fiona Ma Set As Keynote Speaker for California Public Parking Associations 25th Annual Conference". Parking Network. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "''Huffington Post'' report by Ryan J. Davis http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-j-davis/the-great-california-gay_b_96802.html". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05.  External link in |title= (help)
  13. ^ "The Great California Gay Marriage Shift". Huffington Post. April 23, 2008. 
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ "California GOP: The Queer Enablers of Gay Marriage". LA WEEKLY. May 21, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Ryan J. Davis: "The Great California Gay Marriage Shift", ''The Huffington Post''". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  17. ^ "LCR's National Convention on YouTube". Youtube.com. 2008-04-11. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  18. ^ Article re the 2010 Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ "California Domestic Partner Law/". WIKIVT.biz. 
  20. ^ "Kevin and Don Norte Bill". Land of Fruits and Nuts. May 8, 2007. 
  21. ^ "Kevin Norte". Wn.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  22. ^ "Why Did 26 of 32 California Assembly Republicans Vote Against the Name Equality Act?/". California Progress Report. May 9, 2007. 
  23. ^ "California Senate Passes Gun Microstamping--Governor to Get Prescription Labeling, Police Interrogation, College Textbook Bills--and Measure Gutting Local Campaign Finance Laws /". Tom Torlakson, California State Senator. September 8, 2007. 
  24. ^ "Terminator Roils Conservatives". Wright County Republican. October 19, 2007. 
  25. ^ "Log Cabin Republicans' Mitt Romney Endorsement Prompts Los Angeles Couple To End Membership". The Huffington Post. October 31, 2012. 

External links[edit]