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News - October 1996

Anti-Gay CA Legislator Has Gay Son

Assemblyman William "Pete" Knight (R- Palmdale), the author of California's anti-gay marriage bill, AB 1982, revealed Sept. 9 that he has a son who is gay and that his brother died of AIDS.

Knight said he learned his 36-year-old son David was gay in March 1995.

"He wrote me a letter and my reaction was that it wasn't that much of a big surprise," said Knight. He said his son, who lives in Baltimore and is in a relationship, was "upset" when he first heard of his anti-gay marriage bill.

He also revealed that his brother John died of AIDS a little more than a year ago at the age of 60. Though he claims in a story published in today's "Newhall Signal" that he and John were "close," he reportedly refused to attend his funeral and claims he was uncertain whether John was gay, even though John was in a relationship with another man for more than 10 years.

"Once again the deceit and outrageous hypocrisy of those claiming to 'protect society' and prevent the 'destruction of the family' has been exposed," said Lorri L. Jean, executive director of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

"The destruction of families is actually wrought by people with 'values' like Pete Knight-- values that enabled him to abandon his own brother as and after he lay dying. Values that enable him not only to disrespect his own son, but to actually cause him harm. I pity any person who can so distance himself from his own family in order to score political points," said Jean.

Knight, a candidate for state Senate, said he might still pursue a ban on California's recognition of same-sex marriages if he is elected in November.

"We're calling on Assemblyman Knight to look past his bigotry against gay people and to oppose future legislation that could prevent his son and others in same- gender relationships from gaining the legal responsibilities and rights the state confers on loving, committed relationships," said Jean. "Attend a PFLAG meeting, Mr. Knight, and learn to embrace and love your family -- gay or straight -- as so many other parents of lesbian and gay children have."

The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is the world's largest gay and lesbian organization and a leading HIV/AIDS care provider, welcoming more than 14,000 visits from ethnically diverse youth and adults each month. It is a powerful non-profit force for gay and lesbian civil rights and home to the largest array of free or low cost health, legal, employment, educational, cultural and social programs designed especially for gay men and lesbians. It's served by a staff of more than 240 employees and 3,000 volunteers.


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