Supervisor Ken Yeager Snubs Mayor Chuck Reed over Marriage Equality

Ever since Chuck Reed was elected mayor of San Jose in 2006, he has held quarterly meetings with the president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. The goal of these meetings is to allow city and county officials to discuss legal disputes without lawyers present.

As recently as last August, Reed met with former supervisor and Board president George Shirakawa Jr., who should be meeting his new cellmate in about a month. A year before, Supervisor Dave Cortese held the conch and met quarterly with Reed.

We supply this history to show that the mayor, Public Enemy No. 1 of San Jose’s public employee unions, and labor-aligned politicos have traditionally set aside their allegiances long enough to stomach one another for an hour every three months.

But that all changed last week, when current Board president Ken Yeager snubbed Reed’s request for a meeting. In his stead, Yeager sent Supervisor Mike Wasserman, the Board’s vice chair.

So, was this some kind of protest over pension reform or Yeager standing in solidarity with labor? Not exactly. It turns out that Yeager, who is openly gay, refuses to meet with Reed because of the mayor’s anti-same-sex marriage stance.

“I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with Mayor Reed’s staunch opposition to marriage equality,” Yeager said. “No amount of dialog seems to move him, and it’s hard not to take it personally after a while. The vice president of the Board is just as capable of handling these routine check-in meetings as the Board president. Supervisor Wasserman understands my position, and I’m grateful for his willingness to step in here.”

Reed’s office seemed caught off guard by the whole matter, as a spokesperson for the mayor noted that “there wasn’t a specific reason” for Yeager’s absence. But, the mayor’s spin cycle added, it’s all good because Wasserman will likely be Board president next year, so this arrangement allows for greater “continuity” and blah, blah, blah.

Wasserman, a Republican, apparently had a great time at City Hall, while Reed, who curiously continues to call himself a Democrat, must have enjoyed letting his ever-so-short hair down while commiserating with a man whose values he shares—except that Wasserman actually supports marriage equality.

San Jose’s City Council has already gone on record in support of same-sex marriage, with only Reed and Councilmember Johnny Khamis opposing a resolution that was sent to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. > As President of the “full blown circus” at the County, Yeager has an affirmative duty to meet with all Mayors of all cities within the County’s jurisdiction.

    > Screw Yeager.

    I’m astonished!  I actually agree.

    Yeager is public official with temporary stewardship of an institution charged with conducting the business of ALL of the people.

    If he wants to conduct business only on behalf of and in the interest of gays, he should resign from the Board of Supervisors and become a gay activist.

    The attitude of too many activist politicians that “I’m going to hijack this institution and cram down MY agenda” really sucks.

    Yeager: Narcissistic. Petulant. Immature.

    The people of Santa Clara County should expect better.

  2. Reed is an arrogant homophobe . he can call himself whatever he likes , trust me people are calling him worse names .it was wrong for Yeager to deny the Meeting , he should have been the bigger man and Not just the better man

  3. Is this really the most read article on this site?

    If Yeager is smart, he’ll milk this for all it’s worth.  He should attend the next meeting and refuse to shake Reed’s hand.  He should demand a lawyer be present.  He should bring his own coffee.  He should bring his own folding chair.  The possibilities are limitless.

    • > He should attend the next meeting and refuse to shake Reed’s hand.  He should demand a lawyer be present.  He should bring his own coffee.  He should bring his own folding chair.

      In other words, Yeager should be … “narcissistic, petulant, and immature.”

      I think you already have your wish.

  4. So, the Mayor has specific seats in his name on various boards (BAAQMD, VTA, etc) on behalf of San Jose and he appoints council members all the time.  The most recent of these was MTC and he appointed Sam Liccardo as his rep.  Nobody says anything about it and it’s common practice.  And it’s ok.

    But, if Ken Yeager decides to do the same for whatever reason, it’s not ok. 

    The Mayor’s position is that Yeager is not entitled to the same protections, benefits and equality as a person, as the mayor’s constituent as a citizen because the Mayor does not “believe” in marriage equality and hides behind the “citizens have voted on it” line. He considers Ken and all other constituents less than equal.

    Why on earth would anybody want to meet with somebody on a regular basis when that person considers you a second class or second tier person?  And why would anybody who considers people second class citizens be trusted to work for the betterment of all?  If you classify one group as second class why not others?

    Yeager’s not being petulant or childish.  He’s simply saying he has better things to do than meet with somebody who does not consider him an equal on matters that do not require his presence.  A routine “hey, don’t sue us and we won’t sue you” meeting is not something that requires the presence of either of them.

    As for the alleged reporting of this…puhleeezzz….  the speculative “pension reform” comment, the invocation of labor relations…. you threw every hot button and pet peeve other than Cindy Chavez into this.

  5. “Yeager is public official with temporary stewardship of an institution charged with conducting the business of ALL of the people.

    If he wants to conduct business only on behalf of and in the interest of gays, he should resign from the Board of Supervisors and become a gay activist.”

    ^^^Yes, this.

    I would feel that way even if I didn’t agree with Mayor Reed about the same-sex marriage issue.  But as it so happens, I agree with him completely (I voted “Yes” on Proposition 8).

  6. Yeager’s principled stance would make more sense if Mayor Reed’s position about Marriage Equity was something other than personal opinion.  The mayor of San Jose makes no policy, enacts no laws or decides nothing that has to do with marriage so why bother?  Mr Wall is right when he says that the President of the Board of Supes has an obligation to represent the people who elected him. If he wants to take the no meeting policy then he shouldn’t take the job or be the President of the Board.  Do the job!

  7. Agreed.  Yeager needs to settle down and get to the public’s business and from what we can see with the county it needs plenty of good business for a change.  Everyone has equal rights already.  Either a man and a woman (should they so choose) or a homosexual couple with domestic partner agreements, they are still equal rights.

    This “marriage” thing is a façade to let some feel comfortable about who they are.  Set up house with matching wedding bands and “we’re normal.  Marriage is something that began long before there were religions or societies to relegate them.  Some form of it started with early humanoids that obviously recognized that XX + XY = continuation of the species and thus we evolve.

    This is nature at its simplest form.  All species evolve with a combination of that XX + XY.  Don’t blame me, talk to Darwin. 

    Humans are genetically predisposed to want to reproduce and continue our kind.  If homosexuals want to claim they are genetically what they are, fine.  And all power and rights to you.  But don’t get all uppity because the rest of the human race is wired to do what it does to continue the species.  Side trips to the bathhouse on not on our agenda but no one is stopping you.

    When we as a society can talk truthfully about who we are as a species and what gender and roles are naturally meant to be while recognizing there some may be different the better off we will all be.

    • You’re a disgusting person. And you need to be educated.

      “Everyone has equal rights already.  Either a man and a woman (should they so choose) or a homosexual couple with domestic partner agreements, they are still equal rights.”

      If a gay couple enters into a domestic partnership that domestic partnership is not recognized in every other state. In fact, states have already begun the referendum process of denying recognition of domestic partnerships/gay marriage/marriage equality in response to California’s popular Proposition 8 case and the other states who are voting to allow marriage equality.

      A US citizen can sponsor his or her non-US citizen partner. Can’t be done under a domestic partnership.

      Domestic partnerships are NOT recognized by the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. I would argue the whole reason people get married is for the tax break, but that’s me and maybe as a gay man I’ve had too many side trips to the bathhouse so I can’t think straight anymore (pun intended). Proof I’m wrong? I guess the fact that we have zero divorces is proof enough, right? Domestic partnerships can not file joint tax returns and are not eligible for tax breaks or protections the government affords to heterosexual married couples.

      There are is list of over 1,000 federal benefits that domestic partners do not have access to that heterosexual couples do.

      And finally, here is a short list of rights afforded to heterosexual couples that are not afforded to domestic partners in every state: joint parental rights of children, joint adoption, status as “next-of-kin” for hospital visits and medical decisions, right to make a decision about the disposal of loved ones remains, immigration and residency for partners from other countries, crime victims recovery benefits, domestic violence protection orders, judicial protections and immunity, automatic inheritance in the absence of a will, public safety officers death benefits, spousal veterans benefits, Social Security, Medicare, joint filing of tax returns (already discussed), wrongful death benefits for surviving partner and children, bereavement or sick leave to care for partner or children, child support, joint insurance plans, tax credits including: Child tax credit, Hope and lifetime learning credits, deferred Compensation for pension and IRAs, estate and gift tax benefits, welfare and public assistance, joint housing for elderly, credit protection, medical care for survivors and dependents of certain veterans

      So, please, stop. Stop waving your magic wand of heterosexuality like you know what you’re talking about. You don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re not one of the people who doesn’t have equal rights under the law.

      • A couple of points. First is this: why are activists for LGBT rights even fighting for ‘gay marriage’. In the first place, marriage is a primarily religious institution established by most of the worlds major cultures based on the prevailing religions of those cultures: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, the Siekhs, etc. And, as far as I know, ALL those religions REJECT homosexuality as an immoral act.

        Secondarily, ask yourself this question: given that marriage is primarily an institution of religion or conscience, and a CIVIL contract, WHY do we permit the government ANY say, whatsoever, over how people in a relationship choose to formalize their relationship.

        Finally, arguing that the ‘right’s enumerated above are not recognized in every state is a specious argument. This is clearly a states’ rights issue. If you don’t like that one state or another doesn’t recognize those rights, or that the citizens of that state don’t recognize them, then don’t live there. Or, work in that state in question to change the law. But, leave the Feds out of it.

        Lastly, don’t be the stereotypical LGBT activist hypocrite a-hole who calls someone who disagrees with you a bigot (or acts as though they are) just because they disagree with you. That makes you just as bigoted as you accuse them of being. The First Amendment guarantees us all freedom of conscience and of speech with the corollary guarantee that we will ALL be periodically offended by another person’s exercise of same. So what. Tough. Get over it. As long as they aren’t doing real physical harm to you, then you need to accord them the same respect for their difference of opinion as you (collectively and often shrilly) demand for yourself

  8. Oh FinFan you make me laugh out loud…thanks for the giggle.  Your idea that gay men throw hissy fits and oh, straight men, what…get all blustery.  As if standing your ground when you are gay is a different thing that when you are straight.  Mental disorder?  Seriously…let’s fall back on gay=defective somehow.

    Marriage is and always has been a state function that is sanctioned via a ceremony or act of some kind.  In many cases the state and a religious body were co-mingled.  A member of the clergy cannot perform a legally sanctioned marriage without the state. You look at the “roots” of marriage, tie it to morality and put it in a container marked Judeo/Christian beliefs and completely ignore the fact that the billions of Hindus, Buddhist, Shinto, Native Americans and Africans have conducted marriage ceremonies for millennia.

    Marriage is a civil action.  It can be sanctioned in a church or through a religious rite.

    Even the end of your rant made me giggle because now I have visions of glitter bombing as an act of “..vicious tactics and outright hatred…”  Talk about deranged and not trustworthy…

    Marriage equality is simply an equal rights issue.  And I can assure you that nobody will be pushing you into a relationship that goes against your obviously restrictive moral grounds. And speaking on behalf of lots ‘o straight folks…we wouldn’t want to bother you either.

  9. With this snub, Mr. Yeager reveals something the male homosexual community would like the rest of us to forget: they differ from heterosexual men in more ways than just sexual preference.

    Try as I might, I can’t imagine another scenario in which a man elected as a political representative would respond in like fashion. Clearly, Mr. Yeager has allowed his emotions to run wild and imagine a moral high ground for a position that has no basis in morality. The lack of reason and judgment displayed, though reminiscent of the runaway emotions of female politicians when discussing abortion, are, when manifested by a male, indicative of a mental disorder—one quite likely related to sexual preference.

    The institution of marriage is one that, though now encoded into law, is rooted in post-Roman Christian traditions. In other words, its moral component is of Christian invention as opposed to legislative (laws emerge from morality, not the other way around). For gays, and those blinded by political correctness who support them, the claim of a moral right to marriage is absurd—they have no more moral right to demand marriage than does a Jew to demand Catholic confession. But to even suggest that those holding fast to traditional marriage—as defined by thousands of years of Western civilization, deserve to be called, treated, or thought of as bigots, is sheer lunacy. The likes of Ken Yeager would have us condemn every one of our traditional marriage-supporting ancestors as haters.

    When black Americans framed their demand for civil rights as a moral issue the high ground was theirs. Second class citizenship was immoral—not because of anything written in the law but because of everything Western man had come to define as moral. Black Americans were not obliged to wage a political campaign to redefine Western morality, their campaign was to write that morality into the law books.

    The gay marriage connivers would have us believe that they, a small minority leading lifestyles at odds with traditional morality, deserve the “right” to redefine that morality by wielding the power of the state. Besides that the precedence set would be a disastrous one (state mandated morality was Stalin’s weapon of choice), and that rewriting morality is the dominion of the generations, the vicious tactics and outright hatred demonstrated by gay rights supporters in what they claim as a moral quest defines them as a political force too deranged to be trusted.

    • I think you’re reading too much into it.  I see it as Yeager getting ready to take on Evan Low for Paul Fong’s Assembly seat.  As in any exposure is better than no exposure.

  10. D6Diva,

    I fail to see any evidence that you understood my post; if you had you wouldn’t have felt obliged to argue that marriage is a state function (something I never denied). In fact, it is precisely because of its status as a state law that makes the action of Mr. Yeager—himself a lawmaker, so remarkably inappropriate.

    Ken Yeager seems to think he’s taken a moral stance. My argument is that our marriage laws, though derived from Christian morality, are merely laws, and as such, are political issues no different from any of the hundreds of issues confronting our lawmakers. My argument is that, were he not gay, and were his emotions under control, Mr. Yeager would never think to snub Chuck Reed over this issue. But his emotions are not under control; his sexual preference affects his judgment and intellect; and his behavior in this matter, unjustifiable from any rational angle, deserves to be considered as a weakness of his kind.

    To claim the gay marriage issue is about moral rights one must be sufficiently ignorant to believe, or deluded into accepting, that our marriage laws are the result of immoral actions taken long ago by closed-minded lawmakers. Not only is that not the case, it is the exact reverse of what did occur. Lawmakers wrote those laws based on customs and definitions provided by the prevailing culture, just as they did with other such issues (age of consent, majority, etc.), correctly confident of their moral standing. Thus, unless one believes that laws acquire immorality along the way as ships do barnacles, any and every argument against traditional marriage laws is an argument of laws, not morality.

    But, of course, Mr. Yeager and his fellow practitioners of tantrum politics have no respect for the prevailing culture (you know, the one that voted down gay marriage). Worse, they have no respect for the majority opinion that underlies that prevailing culture, evident in their eagerness to brand traditional marriage supporters as bigots, haters, and homophobes; evident in their campaigns of harassment against opposition supporters (at their homes and churches!); evident in their disingenuous political tactics (campaigning for civil unions and then using that newly won privilege as grounds for their lawsuits).

    As for what my particular moral grounds, they are not an issue because gay marriage is not a moral issue. But since you enjoy a good laugh, maybe you can chuckle over why it is that the same people arguing that marriage is a right rooted in a new-found morality (thus nullifying its unambiguous legal definition), also argue that abortion is a new-found right rooted in the law (thus nullifying its undeniable moral standing)?

    The hilarious answer is: because you people are idiots.

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