Feinstein opposes Prop 8
by Seth Hemmelgarn
After weeks of silence on the issue, former San Francisco mayor and current Senator Dianne Feinstein has come out against Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative on the November ballot.
Feinstein's statement follows calls to her office by the Bay Area Reporter this week inquiring about her position.
"Proposition 8 would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. I oppose it as a matter of equality and fairness," Feinstein (D-California) said in a statement released today (Friday, September 12).
"The right to marry is fundamental. It provides social stability, economic equality, and the ability to make decisions for a spouse in a time of crisis," she continued.
The senator, who polls show is the state's most popular elected official, also said in the statement that if the measure passes, it would also "create a complicated legal quagmire for those who have exercised this right under the California Constitution, as adjudicated by the Supreme Court of the state."
The Supreme Court ruled May 15 that same-sex couples have the right to marry in California.
"The views of Californians on this issue have changed over time, and as a state, I believe we should uphold the ability of our friends, neighbors, and co-workers who are gay and lesbian to enter into the contract of marriage," Feinstein said in the statement.
Feinstein's relationship with the LGBT community has been rough in recent years.
In 2005, Feinstein, who's reportedly considering running for governor, received San Francisco Pride's Pink Brick award, which is bestowed upon groups and individuals who've run afoul of the community or pushed for anti-gay measures.
The award resulted from Feinstein's suggestion after Democratic Senator John Kerry lost his 2004 presidential bid that Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to allow same-sex couples to marry that year had played a role in Kerry's defeat.
Shortly after the election that year, she was quoted in the New York Times as saying that Newsom's decision to buck state law at the time and allow same-sex couples to marry was "too much, too fast, too soon."
Last month, Feinstein acknowledged to the San Francisco Chronicle that she's considering a run for governor in 2010. That race is also likely to include Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, both of whom have been vocal Prop 8 opponents.
Equality California's Geoff Kors praised Feinstein's statement.
"We are truly grateful that Senator Feinstein has not only taken such a strong stand against Prop. 8, but has also come out in support of marriage for same-sex couples," Kors said in a statement. "Her leadership on this issue and her stand for fairness sends a powerful message to all Californians as right-wing organizations work to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry."
Equality California is part of the No on 8, Equality for All coalition, the group leading the effort to defeat the measure.
Feinstein's fellow senator, Barbara Boxer (D), came out against Prop 8 a month ago.
In an August 11 letter to Dale Kelly Bankhead, No on 8 campaign manager, Boxer wrote, "I am pleased to endorse the No on Proposition 8 campaign to promote equality and fairness for all Californians.
"Proposition 8 is a mean-spirited effort which will hurt so many Californians. I urge my fellow Californians to vote no on Proposition 8," Boxer added.
California's senators join a long list of elected officials in the state who, according to the No on 8 campaign, are opposed to the measure. Along with Newsom and Villaraigosa, opponents include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; state Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata; state Assembly Speaker Karen Bass; San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders; and Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo.
Kevin Johnson, the former professional basketball player now running against Fargo for mayor of Sacramento, announced Wednesday his opposition to Prop 8, although he also said in a statement, "I have my own personal religious belief about marriage." He added, however, "That's my own personal belief, something I would never, ever impose on others."