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Without his father's blessing: his lawmaker dad may be California's leading opponent of equal rights for gays, but that didn't stop David Knight from getting married in San Francisco.

David Knight's relationship with his dad has been contentious. While David is openly gay, his father, Republican California state senator William '"Pete" Knight, authored the successful Proposition 22 ballot initiative in 2000, banning same-sex, marriage, and is currently leading the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund, which filed a lawsuit to block San Francisco from issuing marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.

But unlike Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, David Knight, 42, has publicly opposed his father's antigay activism. A cabinetmaker and Persian Gulf war veteran, Knight first made headlines in October 1999 with a Los Angeles Times essay titled "My Father Is Wrong on Gays." And on March 9 he traveled with his partner of 10 years, Joseph Lazaro, 40, from their home in Baltimore to get married at San Francisco's City Hall.

Shortly after he, tied the knot, David Knight spoke with The Advocate about his father and their relationship.

Why did you decide to get married in San Francisco?

Mayor [Gavin] Newsom opened the floodgates. Of course, when that happened it stirred up all the emotions from 2000 and Proposition 22. So [Joseph and I] talked for a while, and we decided it was important.

After your marriage your father's office released a statement to the press, which said, "I love my son, but we continue to disagree on this issue." Is there any love on your side?

Absolutely. Sure. I love him very much, and I miss trim. But I'm not going to change for him. I don't agree with his politics. It's a shame that we can't discuss [the issue] and maintain a relationship where we disagree [like] a lot of kids and their parents do. It just doesn't look like that's going to happen with us. And it's OK. I think it's important for people not to look at this as some tragic family situation.

When you were growing up, was your father vocal about his antigay leanings?

We didn't discuss things like that. Basically, the gist is [that] he'd love to see [all gay people] go back iii the closet. Titan everything would be fine.

You came out to your father on the phone in 1996. How did he react?

Very quietly. He said it didn't come as a surprise. That took me aback. But I think most parents do know their children and know whether or not they're gay. It wasn't a real discussion, and there's never been a discussion about it since.

What inspired your essay in the Los Angeles Times in 1999?

[Proposition 22] was starting to really hit the news, and we were getting a little angry about it. We have a lot of friends in the Los Angeles area, and we got to talking to them, and one of them suggested that I get involved. They wanted me to come out and do a speaking tour and really get involved and put a face on it. I'm pretty shy, so I wasn't interested in doing that. But I told them I'd think about it, and after a while I decided I could put my thoughts on paper and see if somebody wanted to publish that.

In the essay you said that you didn't consider yourself an activist. Wasn't being wed in San Francisco activism?

Well, my point of view is starting to change. And, yeah, it was activism.

Will you get more involved in the movement for same-sex marriage rights?

We're considering getting more active in it, especially here in Maryland. But we don't know to what extent and if we want to be in front or behind the scenes.
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Title Annotation:Behind the Headlines; son of Republican California state senator William Knight
Author:Blotcher, Jay
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 27, 2004
Words:605
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