Christine Kehoe Becomes San Diego County’s First Out Official
A trailblazing fixture in San Diego’s feminist and LGBTQ communities, Christine Kehoe was the editor of the Gayzette from 1984 to 1986, leaving to chair San Diego County’s arm of the statewide campaign to defeat Lyndon LaRouche’s AIDS quarantine initiative, Proposition 64. After that success, she worked for an AIDS assistance organization.
“Gay men were prevented from donating blood, so the lesbian community and straight women stepped up and started Blood Sisters to donate blood. All kinds of activities like that came out of the AIDS crisis,” Kehoe said in a March 17, 2016, video posted by the Women’s Museum of California about the “very desperate” times from 1985 to the 1990s.
In 1993, Kehoe ran for San Diego City Council. “My campaign motto was ‘As a North Park homeowner, I understand the importance of clean safe neighborhoods,’” she says. “The gay community realized this was our shot at truly having a seat at the table. If we won, I would be the first elected openly LGBT official in the county . . . It was still my favorite campaign. And we won by five points. And we amazed everybody. And we set out to really be a good representative for all the people. The gay community knew we couldn’t be silent anymore.”
Kehoe served seven years on the city council, during which she was appointed to the California Coastal Commission and the San Diego Association of Governments.
In 1998, Kehoe garnered national attention in her race for the U.S. Congress because of her sexual orientation, but did not beat her opponent. Yet in 2000, she was elected to the California State Assembly, where she served 12 years, during which she co-founded the LGBT Legislative Caucus, authored the state’s largest energy conservation bill, and was elected Assembly Speaker Pro Tem, the chamber’s second-highest-ranking position. In 2004, Kehoe was elected to the state Senate, where she served until termed out in 2012.
In March 2016, Christine Kehoe was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame as a Trailblazer. She was the subject of the 2016 documentary Political Animals, which also featured fellow lesbian California political trailblazers Sheila Keuhl, Carole Migden and Jackie Goldberg.