Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Mayor Newsom marks same-sex marriage anniversary

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today (Friday, February 12) marked the 6th anniversary of his decision to order city staff to marry same-sex couples by issuing a statement to the media in which he reflected back on that historic day.

Newsom (pictured at right at the September 6, 2008 kick-off of the No on Prop 8 campaign) has increasingly spoken out about same-sex marriage in recent months. It is a marked change from two years ago when he was blamed by some LGBT leaders and newspaper pundits for the bungled effort to defeat the voter-approved ban against same-sex marriage that fall.

The backers of Prop 8 used Newsom and his quote “whether you like it or not” to great effect in their TV ads pushing a yes vote on the anti-gay measure. Following that verbal blunder – which came from the day the state Supreme Court in May of 2008 ruled that there was no reason to deny marriage rights to LGBT people – Newsom receded from the picture for a period of time. He did so fearful he had become an unwitting pawn for the promoters of keeping traditional marriage.

And he tried to shy away from being tagged a one-issue candidate during his, now aborted, gubernatorial run last year by downplaying his involvement in the fight for marriage equality by talking about his backing of green technology and the city’s universal healthcare program.

But unshackled from the rigors of running for state office, Newsom has once again become a vocal champion this year for full marriage rights for same-sex couples. He took a swing at President Barack Obama’s lack of support for same-sex marriage in New York Times’ columnist Maureen O’Dowd’s Jan 19 column.

In his statement today, Newsom pledged to continue fighting until same-sex couples gain the right to wed throughout America. Here is his statement in full:

“From the moment we issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples six years ago today, I knew we were beginning a long-term battle that would ultimately be taken up one day in courtrooms in California and Washington, DC. The federal trial in San Francisco is the latest and important chapter in the battle that has unfolded since we wed more than 4,000 same-sex couples in 2004.

But victory in the fight for marriage equality is as much about changing people’s hearts and minds as about changing the law. That’s why we first married Phyllis Lyon and the late Del Martin, together more than 50 years, to give a much-needed human face to the struggle for marriage equality. The fight for marriage equality is about them – the men and women whose loving, committed relationships are still treated as unequal in the eyes of the law.

I have never been prouder of our decision in 2004 to defy California’s unjust marriage laws and do our part to carry the banner for civil rights. We at once guessed at, but could never have fully imagined, that which we unleashed. We must never step back from our commitment to marriage equality until justice prevails in California and in our nation’s capital.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 12, 2010 @ 1:52 pm PST
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