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LAPD Chief William Bratton honored by gay website

January 6, 2009 |  9:57 am

Bratton Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton received some flak last year when he declared that celebrity Lindsay Lohan had toned down her previously rowdy behavior because she had "gone gay."

But the remark apparently hasn't cut into his popularity in the gay community. And one gay website named the tough-talking chief its "2008 Homo Hero of the Year," beating out such notables as comedian Wanda Sykes as well as Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the first couple to get a marriage license when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered they be issued to gays and lesbians. According to Queerty: 

It’s easy to forget, in the face of so much vocal opposition to fairness and equality for gays and lesbians, that the ranks of allies supporting us are growing every day. Chief Bratton publicly announced his financial support of the No on 8 campaign as well as his support for gay marriage in July at the urging of a gay couple he’s friends with, saying at the time: "The Constitution guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I see no reason why gays can't pursue happiness through marriage."

But it is the way he and the Los Angeles Police Department treated the protesters that makes him Queerty’s Homo Hero of the Year. There are many worthy LGBT folks who deserve mention (and are mentioned below), but Bratton’s proved that even the most homophobic institutions are capable of change when led by people with courage. The reality is that Prop. 8 protesters were breaking the law, but the LAPD, under Bratton, recognized the importance of the crowds, the essential peacefulness of the protests and chose to honor America’s tradition of civil disobedience. At a moment when gays and lesbians felt more like second-class citizens than ever, at a moment when the gay community's rights were stripped away, the LAPD treated us with dignity and respect. It won’t be forgotten.

The website notes its choice to honor a straight man could be greeted in some quarters of the gay community as "tantamount to heresy" but that "unlike the politicians and celebrities who pay lip service to the gay community but do nothing, Bratton used his power and influence to make a tangible difference."

--Andrew Blankstein

Photo: LAPD Police Chief William J. Bratton in 2007. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times