Newark, Del. City Councilman Ezra Temko publicly came out as bisexual in an an interview with the Newark Post today. He spoke to the paper about his relationship with his boyfriend Drew.
Since his election to the city council, Temko has pursued city ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
“When we started dating, it struck me how many rights we don’t have,” he said. “I’ve always been very family oriented, so the limitations on our future made me recognize the level of privilege I had been assuming in my life, which motivated me to step up my advocacy in this area.”
Temko, who spoke about his relationship with his boyfriend Drew, made no efforts to conceal the fact that they were dating.
“Nobody ever asked me about my sexual orientation and I don’t believe it has any bearing on my ability to serve,” he said. “When I was running for council, I was single, so it really didn’t come up. Drew and I go to public events together and our relationship is fairly obvious on Facebook. I think everyone who would normally know I’m dating someone knows I’m dating Drew.”
Temko, who grew up in Newark and graduated from Cab Calloway School of the Arts, said he came to a greater understanding of sexual orientation while attending Oberlin College in Ohio.
“During college, I was in a very inclusive environment that embraced everyone, instead of accepting norms as legitimate on face value,” he said. “I was able, in this environment, to explore who I was and realize that I’m bi-sexual. I always assumed I would end up with a girl; then I met Drew.”
Temko said he first began by getting involved with organizations that advocate for gay, lesbian and transgender rights in Delaware.
“From that, I began to see what states and municipalities around the country are doing and I asked myself, ‘Why isn’t Newark doing this,’” he said. “I also was approached by a Newark resident who asked me to pursue a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Those two things led me to introduce my proposals on Monday.”
In addition to an anti-discrimination ordinance, Temko this week also proposed and won City Council support to add “gender identity and expression” to the nondiscrimination clause in its personnel policy.
Council also unanimously agreed to research a pair of substantially more progressive measures including the extension of city health care benefits to municipal employees’ domestic/life partners and the creation of a city domestic/life partner registry, which would serve as a legally verifiable database. The registry, Temko said, would allows same-sex couples to prove their committed status, thereby qualifying for any domestic/life partner benefits offered by their employer or visitation rights at certain health care facilities.