Steve Weir was elected to the Concord City Council three times.
He was elected as Contra Costa county clerk six times, the last five times unopposed.
He worked for 10 years as a field representative to a powerful state assemblyman.
Yet, Steve Weir never ran for a state-level office. He never tried to be a Contra Costa County supervisor.
Weir, who is retiring this month after 24 years as county clerk, said there was a simple reason he stayed away from high-altitude politics.
He's gay and during the prime of his political career that was a fact he couldn't let a lot of people know.
"It was something that was always sitting there," said Weir. "It was scary thinking somebody might try to pull that card."
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Patch's stories about Weir:
Career and Retirement
Growing up in Pleasant Hill
Politics in Concord
Life as a Gay Politician
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By his early 20s, Weir was actively pursuing a gay lifestyle. However, it was the early 1970s, so that life was being done in secret.
Weir had a couple boyfriends during that time, but he was just starting his political career, so he also needed cover.
In private, he was dating men. In public, he was dating women who were just friends.
"We call them beards now," he said.
In the 1980s, Weir was a force on the Concord City Council as well as the MTC.
He said many Concord officials knew or assumed he was gay. Nobody made a big issue of it.
However, that was a time when gay rights was first emerging and there was still a lot of opposition. Gays were also "outing" other gay men in the media. The Oakland Tribune did a story on this phenomeneon, and Weir said one person from outside Concord tried to get the Tribune to print Weir's name. The newspaper didn't.
Weir breathed a sigh of relief, but he knew he was vulnerable. If he ran for state Assembly or state Senate or perhaps even county supervisor, somebody might use his homosexuality as a campaign issue.
"I couldn't take that chance," Weir said.
If he had any doubts, they were erased in 1989 when the Rev. Lloyd Mashore won a seat on the Concord City Council on a campaign to repeal a city ordinance that prohibited discrimination against people with AIDS.
Mashore called the ordinance "a homosexual agenda presented in a camouflaged, palatable anti-discrimination language."
The following year, Concord voters repealed a human rights ordinance in part because it included gays.
Weir moved on to the county clerk's job in 1989. He said the new post allowed him to be neutral in politics and to have a private life without too much fear.
In 1990, Weir was contacted by John Hemm, a man he briefly dated in 1980. Hemm wanted to get back together. Weir agreed.
They met at the Cliff House in San Francisco, where they'd had a departure dinner in 1980. A few months later, Hemm moved in with Weir.
"From that time on, there was no hiding it," said Weir.
The county clerk, however, still did not push his relationship out into the public eye.
Weir decided it was time. He publically announced his sexuality and denounced Wilson's veto.
Times had changed. Weir was politically safe in his new job and the public was more accepting of gays.
In June 2008, Weir and Hemm made history. They became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Contra Costa County.
There were dozens of ceremonies that day throughout California. Same-sex couples were rushing to the altar because the state Supreme Court had struck down California's ban on gay marriage the month before.
Weir oversaw the office that handed out marriage licenses and exercised his option to make himself and Hemm first in line.
The wedding was covered by a plethora of media. Weir and Hemm were surrounded by more than 100 friends and family.
A handful of religious protesters stood off to the side, mostly ignored by those who attended.
Quite a difference from a few decades before.