A dozen people typically attend council meetings in Dixon, a small town 30 minutes outside Sacramento. On Tuesday night, some 300 people showed up to speak out against a city official’s newspaper column that celebrated “straight pride" and disparaged LGBTQ people.
Councilmember Ted Hickman spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday about his article in a local Dixon paper. He stopped short of apologizing.
“I didn’t give up my First Amendment rights when I became an elected official,” he said.
Hickman added that, were he to write the column again, he would not do so in a sarcastic tone, or under his title as a Dixon public servant.
The column, published in the Independent Voice paper on June 29, stirred outrage after he referred to gay men as "faries" (sic) and wrote that they have an inferiority complex.
In the same column, he declared July as “SPAM,” or straight pride awareness month. “Now hundreds of millions of the rest of us can celebrate our month … as healthy, heterosexual, fairly monogamous, keep our kinky stuff to ourselves, Americans,” the column read.
LGBTQ advocates and others decried Hickman after its publication. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called on him to resign last week.
Pastor Catharine Morris was first to speak out against Hickman at Tuesday night’s meeting. “[He] employed demeaning and denigrating language and rhetoric, and did so in a way that was unbecoming of an elected official,” she said.
Before the meeting, some 200 demonstrators cheered Morris and other speakers, some also calling for Hickman’s resignation, others saying only that it was inappropriate.
Hannah Juarez held a bright yellow sign with rainbow letters that read, “There’s no room in our town for hatred and bigotry.”
Only one protester, Don Grundmann, held a sign in support of Hickman, which read “support straight, normal, healthy, sane, rational.”
At the meeting, Hickman said this would be his only public statement about the column.