Bryan Tate talks with Jennifer Tansey, left, and Jennifer Clancey, both of Spring Garden Township, before Tansey voted at Grumbacher Sports and Fitness
Bryan Tate talks with Jennifer Tansey, left, and Jennifer Clancey, both of Spring Garden Township, before Tansey voted at Grumbacher Sports and Fitness Center at York College Tuesday, May 21, 2013. (Bill Kalina photo )

SEE ALSO: York County GOP rift over gay candidate

An openly gay Republican candidate for a York County state House district is reeling amid allegations Democrats used anti-gay sentiments to sway voters against him.

Bryan Tate, who lost his bid for the 95th District in a special election Tuesday, is calling on the York County Democratic Party to take action against volunteers who denounced his sexual orientation during the campaign.

Tate said he had "100 percent endorsement of the legislative delegation and the Republican committee people," and "nobody thought that this would ever be an issue," he said.

"I just don't understand how Democrats could have even made this an issue," he said. "I'm sad that Democrats, who claim to embrace everyone, would make anti-gay statements to win an election."

Democrat Kevin Schreiber, the winner of Tuesday's special election, strongly denies that any of the alleged indiscretions originated with him or his campaign.

He has friends and family members who are openly gay, ran on a platform of equal rights for gays, and was the only candidate who got Equality Pa's endorsement, he said.

"If there were people saying things, they were not saying things on my behalf," Schreiber said.

Reported comments: On Tuesday, Kathy Mazur said she was working the polls at a York City elementary school when she heard a supporter of Mayor Kim Bracey and Schreiber telling a voter that Tate is gay.

"She was saying how he's a homosexual and that's not right because being a homosexual is not God's will," Mazur said. "I just stood there and kind of analyzed that. It felt like she was trying to sway the voter from voting for Bryan."

Mazur said she approached the woman, who told her, "God didn't want man to be with man, that he wanted man to be with woman, and this whole religion sort of thing. Obviously that was being used as a negative issue against Bryan."

"Basically, I told her it's not right for her to be discussing that," Mazur said. "After I spoke my piece, she didn't say anything to anybody like that. She wasn't being mean or nasty to me. She was just trying to save me. And I told her I didn't need any saving."

Mazur's brother is Ralph Serpe, Tate's husband. Tate said he and Serpe have been together five years. They were married in Baltimore in February and plan to get married again in their church in York this fall.

'Ignoramus': In another incident at Democratic headquarters on election night, former York City Council President Genevieve Ray said she overheard a woman wearing a Schreiber T-shirt say, "Well, you wouldn't want a f--- for a state representative."

"And I turned on her and said, 'You can't be a Democrat and say that.' I said to her, 'I don't care what somebody does in their bedroom. I don't want people to worry about what I do in mine,'" Ray said. "She was an ignoramus."

Ray, who campaigned for Schreiber and mayoral candidate Carol Hill-Evans, said she did not recognize the woman and still does not know her identity.

And about a month ago, according to Hill-Evans, a person promoting Schreiber walked into her campaign's headquarters and made an "inappropriate comment" to her volunteers.

"You don't want a gay person representing you in the 95th, do you?" the person said, according to Hill-Evans.

Hill-Evans was not there, she said, but workers reported the incident to her immediately.

Hill-Evans, who also serves as president of the York City Council, said she reported the incident to Bob Kefauver, chairman of the York County Democratic Party.

"I wanted it stopped right away," Hill-Evans said. "If something like that was said, in whatever context, it needed to be addressed and immediately stopped."

Not sure of effect: Tate said he's not sure if the incidents hurt his numbers at the polls.

"How many people did volunteers say those things to and how many people did buy into that bigotry? I have no idea," he said.

Tate said he reached out to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, the Democrat who held the 95th until he resigned to take his current position, because DePasquale had pledged he would pull his endorsement of Schreiber if Schreiber's campaign used Tate's sexual orientation against him.

Tate also reached out to former Democratic Mayor John Brenner, asking him to arrange a meeting between Tate, Kefauver, Schreiber and Bracey.

"They did nothing," Tate said. "They haven't gotten back to me."

Friday morning, Brenner said he had heard from Tate just 48 hours earlier.

"He contacted me about some supposed tactics that were used in the campaign. He gave me absolutely no specifics. He asked for a meeting between Kevin, the party chairman and Bracey," Brenner said. "And I said, 'I'm sure they'd be happy to talk with you.' And I passed that information along."

Brenner said he finds it "absolutely ludicrous to think that there is some sort of strategy or tactics used here."

"If some individuals said something, then, frankly, those individuals need to step forward and dicsuss their comments," Brenner said. "I have no idea who he's talking about. I can tell you that I certainly don't feel that way. I know that the party doesn't. And I certainly know that Kevin and the mayor don't feel that way. I think this is ridiculous, frankly."

Brenner said he takes issue with "the accusatory tone."

"I didn't know I was in charge of scheduling," he said. "I'm happy to help and if he wants to talk, then I'm sure -- I'll say again -- I'm sure all three of them would be very willing to listen to what he has to say."

A call to Bracey on Friday morning was not immediately returned.

DePasquale said the only evidence Tate provided was a phone call from a woman who said "someone had said something (about Tate's sexual orientation) but she didn't know who said it or what they said."

He wasn't willing to act given the dearth of information, he said.

'Not condoned': Kefauver said he was aware of the incident at Hill-Evans' office and he was "deeply, deeply saddened by it."

But, he said, the person - whose name he declined to disclose because the party is "handling the incident internally" - was not representing the Democratic Party.

"This person was expressing a personal view which I personally find offensive and inappropriate," he said. "The only person who speaks for the Democratic Party itself, by our bylaws, is me. I don't speak for Mayor Bracey or Representative-elect Schreiber's campaigns, but I've worked closely enough with them over the past several months to know that this was not condoned, supported or orchestrated by those campaigns."

If there was more than one person making anti-gay remarks, they did so based on their own beliefs and without the party's endorsement, he said.

Last year, the Democratic Party of York County unanimously passed a resolution in support of marriage equality. At the time, Kefauver said, the move was meant to show support for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Schreiber said numerous openly gay people worked for or supported his campaign.

York City Councilman David Satterlee, a friend of Schreiber's for eight years, was one of them.

"When I heard this, I laughed out loud because I just think nothing is further from the truth that there's anything anti-gay about Kevin," he said.

Tate said the typical procedure for a city resident when discriminated against would be to file a report with the city's Human Relations Commission, of which Serpe is acting chairman.

But Tate said he doesn't intend to do that.

"The campaign's over. I don't know what could be gained from that," he said. "This isn't about me seeking damages."

Tate also had resistance from within his party, though he had the support of the Republican legislative delegation and the county Republican committee.

York County Republican Party Chairman Bob Wilson said Thursday night that former committee chairman and state Rep. A. Carville "Peck" Foster Jr. resigned from his posts with the Republican committee. It had become clear that he was "actively campaigning against" Tate because of his sexual orientation, Wilson said.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com. Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com