Dozens of speakers spoke out about the issue before the Council went into closed session to discuss signing the amicus curiae brief, which literally means “friend of the court.” The Council did not discuss it in open session.
All five Democrats, Christopher Ward, Barbara Bry, David Alvarez, Georgette Gomez, and Council President Myrtle Cole voted to join in the legal brief. Councilmember Scott Sherman voted no. Councilmembers Chris Cate and Mark Kersey did not vote, and Lorie Zapf was absent.
The city of San Francisco reached out to San Diego and other cities to sign the amicus brief, said Gerry Braun, spokesman for the city attorney. The city is not a party to the lawsuit, but is interested in the outcome.
The transgender student, Gavin Grimm, 17, has sued the Gloucester County School Board in order to use the bathroom that corresponds to his identifying gender. USA Today reported that tech companies Apple, e-Bay, Airbnb, PayPal, and others also joined the legal brief in the same lawsuit.
Cate, who represents District 6, issued a post on Twitter that was critical of City Attorney Mara Elliott’s role, saying she was “playing politics” and urged her to focus enforcing criminal matters in San Diego. Cate accused Elliott of “wasting valuable hours of city staff time to pursue national headlines.”
“For the second time this month, Elliott is plunging the city of San Diego into divisive national policies versus doing her duty to put local criminals…behind bars,” wrote Cate.
The Council voted 8-1 Feb. 14 to join the state of Washington in filing an amicus brief against President Donald Trump in challenging his executive order for immigration ban of barring people from seven countries and others from entering the U.S.
Elliott defended her role, saying she would be playing politics if she had not brought forth the amicus requests. She said the accusation is baseless.
“To set the record straight, protecting the rights of transgender citizens has long been an issue for San Diego, as defined by the City Council,” said Elliott in a statement.
Elliott cited the Council’s nondiscrimination in contracting policy in 2015 and the 2003 statement of policy the Council adopted that says discrimination based on gender identity “poses a substantial threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the community.”
Despite Cate’s protest, Cate also wrote this on Twitter: “There is nothing about this lawsuit that I disagree with. I have stood and will continue to stand with my colleagues and advocate equal rights for the LGBT community.”
Cate also wrote that Elliott should be spending more time on prosecuting illegal medical marijuana shops.