Councilmember Khamis Says Illness Stopped Him from Voting on Prop 8 Brief

Johnny Khamis’ sudden exit before Tuesday’s City Council vote on an amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage had nothing to do with his conservative views, the councilmember insists.

“I sat through three-and-a-half hours of closed session meetings and four hours of the other one,” Khamis said, in between coughing fits, by phone Wednesday. “I was coughing and sneezing all day.”

He added: “People insisted I leave.”

The timing, however, appeared at first glance to be a political statement. Khamis has gone on record as a libertarian-leaning Republican, which sounds an awful lot like a Tea Partier, and supports Prop. 8, the state’s controversial gay marriage ban. He said would have voted against the item, which passed on a 9-1 vote. Mayor Chuck Reed, who maintains he’s not a Republican, was the only dissenting vote, noting that Prop 8 “is the law in California, so I’m going to support the law whichever way the people want to go. So, I’m not going to support his motion.”

San Jose will now join San Francisco in an amicus brief that will be to sent to the U.S. Supreme Court, as it weighs the constitutionality of Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Khamis chief of staff Shane Patrick Connolly, who is listed as an active member of California’s chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, also stated that Khamis didn’t intend to make a silent statement but was forced by illness to watch the rest of the meeting from home. (Click on “video” for the Feb. 12 meeting, scroll to the end of the video-linked agenda and click on “Proposition 8 Amicus Brief” to see the council discussion.)

“I was going to vote against it not because of my own beliefs but because of the will of the people,” Khamis said. “I just don’t think that we should overturn the will of the voters, who voted for it in the first place. I believe in equality for everybody … I believe we should give everyone a civil union, for homosexual and heterosexual couples.”

His plan to vote against the amicus brief, Khamis said, was in the spirit of his elected position representing the majority of voters who supported the gay marriage ban.

“If it was put to another vote, I’m sure it would be overturned,” he said. “There’s been a lot more public support for that lately. But if we want to change the law, that’s the way it should be done. … If the voters had voted another way, I would have supported that, too.”

Councilmember Pete Constant, also a Republican, surprised many at the meeting by supporting San Jose’s addition to the amicus brief. While noting his Greek Orthodox religious beliefs, which include opposing homosexuality and gay marriage, Constant said: “If there was law that I had to follow some other faith, I would be pretty pissed off.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Yeah right , you were sick . You sat there for the duration , but couldnt be there for the vote .  Reed says “its the law of the land” what a tool . you want to know what else is the law of the land “VESTED RIGHTS” , but it doesnt seem to bother any of you , to fight that law . Typical of San Jose Politics , you pick and choose what laws to obey , stretch or just ignore .  Khamis will take off where Reed leaves off…………….I pity this City

  2. Eventually, the affluent and currently disengaged residents of District 10 will over run Khamis’ capabilities and cause many “sick” days in the years to come.
    The Kitchen is just warming up. By the way Mr Khamis, many people have “insisted you leave” on several prior occasions yet your health somehow remained robust on those instances.

    I actually look forward to watching the circus now. No matter what side you’re on, it is comical. It does however help being on the side of truth, where ultimately, that’s what prevails.

  3. Mr. Khamis,

    This was an almost 7 hour council meeting, and this issue was heard dead last. There were many people that came to speak on this issue, and waited 7 hours to have their chance at speaking for an entire 2 minutes each. I am sure many of these people had their own illnesses and disabilities, yet they patiently waited. You on the other hand, didn’t have the respect for these people to stick around and hear them out. You could have taken some medicine for your coughing and runny nose, like we all do, but you chose not to. You could have had this item moved to the front of the agenda, to give it and the speakers more importance, but it was instead buried at the back of the agenda, and probably not on accident. You don’t seem to be getting off on the right foot, no pun intended, for just your first few weeks of office.

  4. Prop. 8 should have failed, but its opponents got caught flatfooted.  It should have failed going away,b they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  I sort of feel the court challenge is a way for the political consultants that whiffed in the first place to save face.

    That was then, this is now.  Reed and Khamis are clearly on the wrong side of this issue.  It’s probably not going to hurt them much though.

  5. Rob Johnson
    s randall
    The Absolutist
    So So Interesting
    David S. Wall

    Oh, wow!

    Do you realize that ALL OF YOU are in apparent harmonious agreement as to the unworthiness of Johnny Khamis as a Council Member, and undoubtedly as a human being?

    If you comprised Council Member Khamis’ voting district, he would have gotten ZERO votes!

    Actually, Khamis got a plurality of votes in his district AND won the run-off election.  One might say, Khamis represents the “consensus” of District 10 voters.

    How is it that the Gang of Seven can be so out of step with the actual, real voters of District 10?

    We are constantly told that Global Warming must be real because a consensus of scientists says it’s real.  Everyone else is, thus, outside of the consensus and therefore irrelevant.

    • Has nothing to do with his winning district 10. /Where did you pull that from? I don’t care who he is or where he is from. What I do care about is integrity and performance. He won district 10 fair and square so that is not the issue. His character is. He came out of the gate on the wrong foot. Think before you write.

  6. Something I just caught rereading this: Khamis states, “I was going to vote against it not because of my own beliefs but because of the will of the people,” Khamis said. “I just don’t think that we should overturn the will of the voters, who voted for it in the first place.” If this was true, Khamis would have voted with the council to support this, as 60% of San Jose voted to support gay marriage. Khamis represents the voters in San Jose, not the state as a whole. If he honestly wanted to represent them, he would have voted to support gay marriage. It is disingenuous of him to mask his own disapproval of gay marriage by wrapping it up in the “will of the voters” distraction, and then being “too ill” to vote. In my opinion, this guy has some potential character issues that bare attention. Maybe he is a great guy, but the misleading statements he made at a community safety meeting and now on gay marriage are troubling.

    Maybe LGBT groups should demand Khamis pay money to one of their support groups before they meet with him on this issue, just as he has done with the police and fire department when he thought he was slighted. Can you say double standard.

  7. I never have understood how people can claim that they believe in equal civil, and human rights for all, and then say that don’t support marriage equality. Either you support equality or you don’t. There is no in between for me.

    • Great point, Kathleen. Johnny’s all upset because he was called an “extremist” and thinks that’s racist. People who fight for their own rights and deny them to others are the worst kind of hypocrite.

  8. Hey Johnny, don’t be a coward. Stand for what you believe and let the chips fall where they may. You are looking like a rookie who is way over his head.

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