Gavin Newsom on Gay Marriage and Spineless Democrats

Newsom_1San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom let his opinion be known about certain members of his party and their positions on same-sex marriage in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine:

“I tell all of my fellow Democrats this is not going to go away. As long as we allow this to be dangled in front of us because of our unwillingness to say publicly what so many of us are saying privately, it will haunt the Democratic party. And it will be used as a wedge issue just as it is being dangled in front of congressional candidates in the November election.

Not every Democrat in Washington agrees with gay marriage. But I will make the case — based on some strong evidence — that an overwhelming majority do. But they just can’t say it. And that is a limitation that is causing more damage than the issue. Because, again, it shows a weakness of character.

This is really one of the great final civil rights struggles, and again I say to my colleagues in the Democratic party: Why are you a Democrat if you can’t stand on a fundamental construct that has always distinguished our party. That we didn’t sit around. We advanced the issues of equality. We engaged the American people head on.”

You go!

Comments

  1. Tagg says

    Contrary to the “Rolling Stone” figure, nearly 4000 couples got married during the “Winter of Love” (a few more got licenses but never registered the marriage itself). But, in any case, hats off to them for the interview. If he lives long enough (he got some 1400 death threats during that period) and isn’t burned out by politics generally, and SF/CA politics specifically (fuck Supervisor Chris Daly and not in the good way), I predict Gavin Newsom will be President some day. I’ve attended two very different–1 very large, 1 more intimate–events where he spoke, and not only is he eloquent and naturally good with people and, yes, sexy as Hell, he beams charisma! Add to that huge balls, in the moral sense, as exhibited by his comments above, and he could be more of a JFK than JFK ever really was. Three cheers to those planning on picketing CA. Sen. Barbara Boxer who has stated flatly that she opposes gay marriage, and I’ll give a thousand dollars to anyone who can prove they knocked Barney Frank on his flabby fat ass the next time he publicly flames Newsom.

  2. Kyle Childress says

    I am going to gush a little here, so be warned. My partner and I were one of the 4000 couples that were married. We were married on the second day (Friday the 13th) at something like 8:45 in the evening after staning in one line or another for four hours. I have to say that it was one of the best days of my life. While being able to marry was very special; the specialness did not come close to ending there. The atmosphere of those 4+ hours was what made it incredibly special. There were thousands of folks all pulling together for a great reason. It was, in a word, magical. It restored my faith in people and reminded me just how great this country can be. I owe all of that to the Mayor, and I will forever be indebted to him.

  3. Tagg says

    Gush away, Kyle, you and your partner, and all of those thousands of other couples, and everyone at City Hall (except for the Nazis In the Name of Jesus), deserve it. And, yes, Gavin Newsom, whatever else he does in life, will always deserve a place of Honor. While I loathe much Andrew Sullivan says and does, he gets a great deal dead on in the following: “Having attended (a gay marriage ceremony) last year and basically bawled through the whole thing, I know. It is life-altering; it is ennobling; it’s experientially more intense than anything most gay people have ever experienced. It heals emotional wounds many gay people don’t even know we bear. And that’s why some want to keep it from us. They want to keep us from those feelings of being one with our own families; they want to keep us outside the society we grew up in; they want to deny us the love and support heterosexuals take for granted. Marriage humanizes gay people and shows us in the context of love and commitment, rather than merely sex. This corrodes the far right’s attempt to portray us as ‘subhuman’ or ‘objectively disordered’ or ‘sinners’. That’s why they are so adamant on keeping us as second class citizens.”

  4. JOE 2 says

    LOVE HIM.

    My partner and I are both in our late 40s, and are convinced (based on polls showing a lack of homophobia in most young people) that same-sex marriage will eventually be a federally acknowledged right.

    My problem is that it irritates me that we can’t just fast-forward to when everybody “gets it.” I want to say to homophobes, “Remember how everyone said that non-white people were inferior and shouldn’t be able to vote, and how everyone said women were inferior and shouldn’t be allowed to vote, and how everyone said interracial marriage needed to be illegal? And remember how everyone finally wised up and realized those ideas were bullshit? That’s what’s happening now, and can we just please skip ahead on the DVD to the part where you get it?”. My partner, on the other hand, thinks that people are pushing too hard, too fast, and that it’s allowing Republicans to use it as a wedge issue and costing us elections. He thinks that if we just allow things to take their natural course, same-sex marriage will be legal in 25 or 30 years.

    My problem is I just don’t want to wait that long. And maybe that’s a problem.

    Thoughts?

  5. John says

    Would that we had people like him here in Indiana. We have Evan Bayh, but the constituency here is so afraid that their wives will find out that they suck cock during their lunch hour at one of the two bathhouses here in Indy. And, it’s no secret in the community that Richard Lugar in years past was caught in flagrante a few times. If only people would just do what is morally and ethically right. The world would certainly be a more peaceful place!
    Congratulations to you Kyle– many years of prosperity to both of you!

  6. EricW says

    I heard Newsom makes these same comments on “Hardball” back in March and know he was on Anderson Cooper last month with the same message. If only the Democrats would listen to him. Unfortunately, having a spine to stand up against the Republicans seems to be something the Democrats are short on.

  7. Rick says

    I’m a gay man who’s in a committed relationship with a wonderful man here in Dallas, Texas. I’ve visited San Francisco several times on both professional business and personal pleasure. We can only wish that we could have such incredible political representation as you do with Gavin Newsome. He is such a maverick and visionary regarding human (gay) rights that everyone in your beautiful city should be very thankful for his leadership. Our own local political leaders represent only conservative or big money interests.

  8. Kyle Childress says

    To Joe2: At the end of the Selma to Montgomery march in the 60s, on the steps of the Alabama capitol Martin Luther King assured the marchers that while they might not win tomorrow, they would most certainly win because “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

    All we can do is to do all we can do to bend it.

  9. GBM says

    Unfortunately I think a lot of the voting Democrats can be just as homophobic as Republicans, especially when they’re convinced by the media that “gay marriage vs. moral values” cost them the 2004 election. Below is part of a comment from the NYTimes’s Opinionator Blog, posted by “rbprtman” on 7/12/06:

    “I believe that all people should have equal protection under the law and that includes benefits, health insurance, etc. However, I do believe that gay people should be sensitive to the fact that not all of us agree with their choice of lifestyle and many of us feel as though its being crammed down our throats. I dont care if you’re gay but you can’t make me approve of it. The question I would like to see asked is why do so many gay people feel they have to identify theirselves by their sexuality?”

    The sheer ignorance of his comment is staggering, yet he felt strong enough about his feelings to comment on the Times site. It staggers me becase I can’t begin to imagine how I would ever be able to see eye-to-eye with such a person, let alone build an alliance.

    And yet, Joe 2, I still think that we have to keep going on both fronts: Keep educating people like rbprtman and the next generations, but also keep working for equal rights, because it is a moral issue. It shows genuine moral strength to fight for what is right, even when it isn’t easy, and even when people say that waiting 50 years later just might make it easier. This is exactly the reason I think Gavin Newsom is such an electrifying figure, because his civil disobedience feels courageous to us. It feels empowering and it feels right.

  10. peterparker says

    If half the politicians in this country had the courage that Gavin Newsom does, we’d be in a much better spot today. Gavin for President!

  11. Bill Perdue says

    Newsom’s comments illustrate the futility of waiting for the Democrats and Republicans to grant us equal citizenship
    rights, even on a uncomplicated question like falling in love and getting married.
    The cults and politicians who oppose same sex marriage don’t do it simply because they’re howling bigots consumed by
    obsessive hatreds. There are other reasons intimately linked to traditional ways to making and keeping wealth for the rich.
    American social laws, which are sanctioned by the pious hypocrites in the cults, are crafted to insure the orderly
    transfer of the wealth gobbled up by the rich to their litters. Unwilling to give us the meager benefits heteros get from
    marriage, they also fear chaos if the inheritance rules are changed.
    Both parties exist to toady to the rich (or to help the politicians become rich themselves.) They have never, as
    Newsome misstates, been leaders of social struggles, but just the opposite. Especially the Democrats, who fought
    emancipation, suffrage, unions, civil rights, and who escalated the war in Vietnam until 55.000 young American
    soldiers were dead, nearly half a million wounded, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese murdered by napalm, artillery, and in countless My Lais. The Democrats
    always adjusts to militant movements, trying to co-opt them as voters by making minor concessions, but they never
    initiate them or fight for them.
    Finally there is an alternative in the trade union sponsored and organized Labor Party, which is up and running candidates. Our best bet is to abandon the twin parties of homophobia to build and support the Labor Party. It’s founded on
    principles that embrace diversity and encourage our struggle to unshackle ourselves.

  12. ricardo says

    ***But they just can’t say it. And that is a limitation that is causing more damage than the issue. Because, again, it shows a weakness of character.***

    it’s like they just had chemotherapy, but don’t know they’re ill. distractions such as these playout as well as a video game and are equally as disruptive as well as evasive. don’t know you have cancer because you CAN’T understand what societal malaise would lead to your cancer. and it has nothing to do with bedroom sheets or squatting!! perverts.

  13. JOE 2 says

    Kyle and GBM –

    Thanks to both of you. I feel the same way.

    I do understand my partner’s point of view, especially as it pertains to same-sex marriage supporters who make it the only issue of importance when considering political candidates. I do know individuals who have said that since neither of the people up for a particular office support same-sex marriage, they’ll just stay home and not vote. What’s the point? You’re going to be stuck with one of them anyway, so you might as well pick the one who AT LEAST takes more favorable positions regarding environmental issues, educational issues, health care issues, whatever.

    Still, I disagree with my partner – and I agree with you, GBM – about same-sex marriage being the issue that cost us the 2004 election. I believe that several things cost us that election (same-sex marriage having little or no significance), and that by far the most important is the fact that the Republicans literally stole it (as they did in 2000). For anyone who hasn’t seen it, Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s excellent and exhaustively researched article in Rolling Stone, “Was The 2004 Election Stolen?”, readable at

    http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10432334/was_the_2004_election_stolen

    leaves no doubt that that’s exactly what happened.

    It blows my mind that the majority of the American public seems to be feverishly concerned with whose penis is currently being inserted into Jennifer Aniston’s vagina, and seems to be utterly disinterested in the fact that present-day America resembles George Orwell’s “1984,” or the USSR circa 1970, far more than it resembles a government of, by, and for the people, with a free and responsible press.

  14. Anon says

    Some of you guys are so unserious that it’s funny! Do you just sit at home all day talking to your stuffed animal collections or something? “Gavin Newsome for president!”, “vote for the labor party”, “resembles George Orwell’s 1984, or the USSR circa 1970″! Ha Ha. Where do you come up with this stuff?? Yeah, the Democratic Party will really make lots of inroads with this kind of talk… Ugh.

  15. JOE 2 says

    Gee, “Anon,” I guess you meant to say “so SERIOUS that it’s funny.” For the record, I don’t own any stuffed animals, I doubt that Gavin “Newsome” [sic] could be elected President even if he were running, which he isn’t, and I’m not a fan of voting for third-party candidates. As for where I came up with my “stuff,” um, I took a look at the world we all live in. I’m SO sorry that I take civil rights and our political system seriously, and that I give a shit about what happens to this country.

    I’ve spent plenty of time in my life engaging in witty banter about meaningless bullshit, and guess what? Sometimes I still do! In fact, I hope I’ll still be engaging in witty banter about meaningless bullshit and laughing at fart jokes when I’m on my deathbed. I guess I just figured that a discussion thread about a civil rights issue and the integrity of politicians wasn’t the appropriate FORUM for that.

    BTW, thanks for all of your thoughtful contributions regarding same-sex marriage rights and Gavin Newsom’s remarks! You rock!

    UGH.

  16. Cory says

    Just ignore Anon. There’s a user on here using different names (I won’t list them as they are begging for an argument but they know who they are) who loves stirring the pot. Obviously they have too much time between masturbating and critiquing blogs. Sad…

  17. thisjoeinsf says

    Gavin has got vision and balls. He’s young now but in twenty years he will be ready for primetime. In the meantime, he can continue to re-make San Francisco into a great city.

  18. Daniel says

    Right on, Bill Perdue… somebody’s got to say it. The Democratic Party is completely useless. Middle-of-the-road compromising isn’t going to fly anymore when it comes to the continuing servitude the two parties have to the richest among us, AND the sad lack of advancement on hugely important issues, gay rights being only one.

    A third party is a real, viable, and plausible option. People have just got to quit hoping, praying, and crossing fingers that “one day” the Deomcratic Party will change.

    A more compelling alternative to U.S. Republicanism (aside from Republican Lite) is what these guys have failed to provide, and that’s why they keep losing elections.

  19. says

    This was written by Eric Jaye, Gavin Newsom’s campaign manager in his 2004 election.

    ===
    A Democratic Strategy on Gay Marriage
    by Eric Jaye

    Last year the Democrats had numerous opportunities to stand on principle — and in doing so show they had the courage to stand for something. No opportunity was greater than the raging debate over gay marriage.

    Facing an evenly divided electorate, Republican strategists surmised that victory in 2004 lay in driving turnout among their base voters. That’s why they placed attacks on gay marriage on state ballots in swing states. They believed that such a debate would drive turnout, particularly among low-turnout Christian evangelical voters.

    What did the Democrats do? By and large they ducked, with poll-crafted drivel that made them seem like typical politicians, not courageous leaders.

    Most voters do not yet support gay marriage – although support for equal matrimonial rights has risen dramatically in the past decade. Polls show a sharp generational divide, with the majority of voters under 40 in support of gay marriage and the majority of voters over 60 strongly opposed.

    But in this day and age, most swing voters reserve more venom for vacillating politicians than they do for two gay people deciding to adopt the bourgeois convention of lifetime commitment and matrimony.

    It is this disdain for vacillating politicians that allows President George Bush to take so many controversial stands yet still win elections for himself and his party. It’s called leadership and voters reward it.

    On a woman’s right to choice, Iraq, environmental protection, outsourcing and Social Security – Bush is ‘wrong’ from a pollsters’ perspective. Yet, why does he still seem so right to so many voters?

    Bush wins by being “wrong” because his controversial positions resonate as authentic. American voters don’t agree with him on key issues — but they tend to believe he “stands up for what he believes.” In a political landscape in which character matters more than ideology, Bush wins by seeming “real” to voters.

    So while Bush seems authentic at the very moment he is pursuing a political ploy to excite his right-wing base – Democrats seem weak and untrustworthy – not just to their base supporters, but to the broad mass of swing voters.

    With a few exceptions, most Democrats simply lack credibility when they say they oppose gay marriage. We have the honor of belonging to a party that has been on the forefront of the civil rights movement for more than 50 years. Most voters, in most states, expect us to stand for civil rights – even when these very same voters are taking a go-slow approach.

    So who do we think we are fooling when we mumble finely nuanced positions on gay marriage? The truth is we are only fooling ourselves.

    We have now survived an entire generation of poll-tested politicians and incremental politics. Finely crafted “agreement” messages, once an innovation, are now an invitation to ridicule. Not just late at night on television, but at almost any hour, we can all enjoy a good laugh at the expense of a politician who is merely reading from a poll-tested script.

    So what’s the right answer when Democrats are asked, “Do you support gay marriage?” The right answer, in almost every case, is the truth. And in most cases, the truth is “Yes.”

    First and foremost – by saying “Yes” we are standing for something, even when the majority of voters don’t yet support our position. And telling the truth makes us sound like real people, not like robo politicians. But more than this – by saying “Yes” we can seize political terrain that allows us to drive the debate, not duck it.

    And we are finding that when we take the offensive on the issue of gay rights and gay marriage, we can make real progress. At the very least, we have a fighting chance when we stop ducking the issue of gay rights and start debating it with clear and concise language.

    Along with a team of top-notch consultants, we worked on the successful campaign in 2004 to repeal Article 12 of the Cincinnati City Charter, which allowed discrimination against lesbian and gays. Just this month we helped defeat the Topeka City Question in Topeka, Kansas that would have allowed discrimination against gays. Both campaigns were played out in the context over the debate on gay marriage.

    Last year, as former consultants to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, we were closely involved in presenting the “winter of love” gay marriages to the public. We were also part of the unsuccessful effort in Oregon in 2004 to defeat the attack on gay marriage.

    We took away from those successes, and that failure, the belief that when it comes to gay marriage the simple truth is better than a complicated lie.

    But more than that – in the long run we can’t win if we don’t debate. And let’s not fool ourselves, this debate is not going away. The Republicans put it on the agenda, and they will keep it there, particularly so long as we refuse to even articulate our own position.

    Cautious Democrats should face the fact that no position on gay marriage is the weakest possible stance. Silence is read as support for gay marriage. And your silence is seen as political at best, cowardice at worst. As a party, we might not have chosen this fight. But it is here. Unilateral surrender is not a workable strategy.

    And to my fellow consultants I would offer this hard-learned lesson. Anti-gay marriage amendments are being fought on the basis of gay marriage — not some “hidden flaw” or “costly consequence.” These measures are not analogous to some down-ballot initiative that we can define. Voters know what they are about — gay marriage.

    In California, we found during the San Francisco gay marriage insurrection that support for gay marriage increased slightly across the state, and support for civil unions increased dramatically, after we captured the airwaves with images of couples who were absolutely unremarkable in any way other than in their desire to profess life-long love and responsibility for each other.

    First in Cincinnati, and then in Topeka, we won campaigns against discrimination in part by seizing the language of morality, rather than ceding it to our opponents.

    We crafted mail pieces entitled “Not Just on Sunday,” and “Daily Bread,” that took up the language of the Lord’s Prayer in defense of tolerance and equal rights every day.

    We didn’t hide from the issue. We didn’t run from the moral debate. We embraced it – and won. Democrats around the country have nothing to lose, and so much to gain, from doing likewise.

  20. Mic says

    I gotta say, that while hope for the future may spring eternal, the reality of this matter is rather nearsighted and quite hopeless.
    As a law student, I have argued both sides of this issue extensively in moot-court exercises for the last three years. And while “Gay Marriage” is something I truly believe in, and hope for (like most TOWLEROAD readers), I have learned that the two most powerful (and winning) arguments in favor of Marriage Equality are part of the biggest controversies in Amerikkka right now: Same-sex Parenting and AIDS.
    At this moment there are tens of thousands of American children without parents or guardians awaiting either adoption or emancipation (at 18), stuck in the childcare system in foster/group homes. Never mind the abuses of public resources (welfare fraud) perpetrated by the thousands of (almost exclusively Hetero) Foster Families accross this country every year.
    Ideal Scenario 1) Same-sex couples are allowed to marry. Ideal Scenario 2) same-sex couples are allowed to marry and adopt – providing stable, loving homes for thousands of these Children Left Behind.
    STIs like AIDS, Gonnorhea, Syphilis, Hepatitis, etc. have been making a COMEBACK in our community. Some leading researchers associate better “cocktail” regiments, and the fact that Americans aren’t dying of AIDS as much as they’re living with HIV with the increases in promiscuity and rates of infection with these once-fatal illnesses in our community.
    Ideal Scenario 1) Same-sex couples are allowed to marry. Ideal Scenario 2) Married couples provide THE FIRST ACCEPTABLE (to the mainstream) ROLEMODELS FOR YOUNGER GENERATIONS, and the Queer Youth of this country abandon the risky behavior they are NOT taught about in schools (abstinence-only sexual education = living death) for the healthy, committed lifestyle they have been denied thus far.
    It isn’t the possible reduction of STIs in our community and the possibility of more hetero-abandoned children being raised by homosexual caregivers that give the Dems pause on this subject. It’s standing up and MENTIONING these “dirty little secrets” to the public that keeps them from speaking out.
    As a 25-year-old male, in a committed LTR, I have hopes of being both Married to and starting a family with my partner. But until someone has the gall to stand up before the American People and speak of the SOCIAL BENEFITS of Same-sex Marriage (saving the taxpayers millions of dollars per year in child services and healthcare expenses) in a secular, non-partisan way, this movement ain’t goin nowhere.

  21. tom says

    Gavin’s efforts to take on bigger political causes (gay marriage, the war…etc etc.)are admirable for him as a politician, but not as a mayor. It distracts him, and our city legislature from the basic issues they should be coping with to govern our city..homelessness, and POTHOLES……I’d rather him fix the POTHOLES than take on state, federal, and constitutional issues overwhich he has little authority and certainly, no control.

  22. TO says

    As Oscar Levant once said, “Out of the mouths of babes comes oatmeal.” Here, absurd, cumless masturbatory fantasies about noble third parties with no chance of accomplishing anything other than causing the, if you insist, least evil candidate to lose. Everybody say: RALPH NADER–whom I wish a slow, painful death (he may look the poor, crusading Everyman but his personal wealth insulates him from most of the suffering that his ennabling Bush to steal the election caused). And, Tom, you may, in fact, be a gay idiot, and not one of those straight right wing trolls who stalk the Net posting shit on gay sites, but you’re still an idiot for replaying virtually verbatim the argument they used in SF in 2004. YOU may not be able to walk and chew gum at the same time but I’m more than confidant that Gavin Newsom can positively work to improve the lives of both the homeless and homos (and the homo homeless) at the same time, though I strongly doubt if anyone could fix the bottomless pothole in your head.

  23. Jim says

    “city legislature”? Perhaps you meant the generic, “city government.” In any case, SF has a “Board of Supervisors,” you fake. Obviously, you actually live nowhere near San Francisco. But, then again, I’ve heard San Francisco’s silly Drag Star of the moment, Donna Sachet, repeatedly refer to San Francisco’s “city council” as a local TV station’s token “gay” commentator as the Pride Parade passes by. Where are we? Alabama? What year is it? 1965? Pathetic.

  24. says

    Newsom’s point is well taken, made after Hilary Clinton’s visit created a controvery because (1) she would not address SSM, (2) her stance approving only “traditional” marriage, both of which were excoriated in the press.

    Opposite Hilary is Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s pro-gay Governor, who, except for vetoing the legislature’s SSM, has signed every other pro-gay measure into law, including domestic partners. Arnold reasoned (rightly, I might add) that the 2000 referendum voters approved by 63% that declined recognition of SSM should be resubmitted to the voters in another referendum, not end-runned legislatively. His view is that “direct” democracy (referenda) trumps “representative” democracy (legislature and governor), a credible view, IMO. Further, the courts have not resolved whether non-recognition of SSM includes California’s own SSM, which would make the bill otiose, anyway. But despite his reasoned justification, GLBT despise Arnold.

    It should be noted that several lawmakers representing Hispanic-dominant constituents had the “courage” to vote for the bill only with Arnold’s promise of veto. Without their votes, the bill would have never passed the legislature.

    We’re certainly free to “pick” our friends and allies, and if Hilary is more attractive to GLBT than Arnold, so be it. To me, at least, Arnold’s pro-gay sentiments, coupled with his tactically-superior means of achieving them, makes him a GLBT ally, while Hilary’s defense of “traditional” marriage and refusal to “talk” about SSM, makes her a foe. It should be noted, however, that Newsom’s comments came on the heels of Hilary’s tight lips, creating a firestorm in the MSM.

    “Democrat” isn’t default for “ally.” Howard Dean opposes SSM, as does Hilary. Admittedly, “Republican” allies are fewer than “Democrat” ones, but maybe party affiliation has nothing to do with our “allies” and “foes.” Newsom’s comments extend to that possibility, too.

  25. Tagg says

    Jessica H. Christ, now descend the Arnold defenders, another Fag Cabin Republican, no doubt, trying, in their typical, slimy sneaky way to align the noble with the ignoble. Well, Rimjob, here’s what Gavin Newsom said in an interview about Arnold–you know, the guy who in his speech at the GOP convention about seeing Soviet tanks as a boy–who also intends to prevent CA textbooks from including LGBT history:
    September 7, 2005
    [Transcript]
    “I wasn’t particularly surprised (by his veto)… I think the governor had been telegraphing his opposition to this legislation in the last few days, so it doesn’t surprise me. It
    disappoints me greatly and it’s going to disappoint literally hundreds and
    hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans, and for that matter, millions of
    people across the country. The governor had a unique and rare opportunity in life
    to stand up on principle and to stand up on the foundation of our Constitution and
    to advance civil rights, and he decided to duck it. He decided not to take the
    opportunity to do the right thing. He made the politically expedient choice of
    placating a base in a context of an election year, and it’s disappointing but again
    not surprising. By no means was this a profile in courage. And obviously for
    those that will suffer because of his inability to stand on principle — a principle
    incidentally that he has personally enunciated on numerous occasions. When
    asked on Jay Leno: ‘Do you have a problem with gay marriage?’ he said ‘No, I do
    not.’ When asked on Chris Matthews whether or not the Legislature, the courts or
    the public advanced the notion of civil rights with same-sex marriage, he said:
    ‘That’s the appropriate course.’ The Legislature advanced civil rights, and that
    was what we thought was an appropriate course representing the people in the
    State of California, but then he decided that that’s not because of his political
    objectives. So obviously I’m disappointed, but no one’s more disappointed than
    the tens of thousands of couples and their extended and immediate families that
    won’t have the same rights and privileges that Maria Shriver and Arnold
    Schwarzenegger have been afforded, and frankly, I think, taken for granted.”
    (Question from reporter)
    “We’ve talked about it, we talked around the issue when I first went to
    Sacramento after our marriages here in San Francisco. You know, he says… I
    read the statement, and I’m a little confused by the statement. It claims that the
    Legislature’s acts were unconstitutional. And then he says he’s for civil rights,
    that he’s always been a champion of civil rights. But you can’t run the 90-yard
    dash and say that domestic partnerships are good enough. Domestic
    partnerships aren’t even close to good enough. He says that he supports equal
    protection of the law, but supports only domestic partnership. It doesn’t make any
    sense. Someone needs to call him on the mat on that. It’s as if he’s never read
    the domestic partnership laws. I mean, they do not provide equal protection. It’s
    not good enough. Separate is unequal. And for him to say: we’ll let the public
    decide – I just think it’s incredibly important that we understand the struggles of
    civil rights. If left to a majority, the minority will consistently be oppressed. If you
    think I’m exaggerating, go back and look at the poll numbers as it relates to
    interracial marriage in the United States of America. In 1968, a year after
    interracial marriage was adjudicated as constitutional in this country – remember,
    in 1967, sixteen states denied interracial marriage – 73% of Americans opposed
    interracial marriage. Would Arnold Schwarzenegger, today, if he were around
    then, be making the case that the voters should decide on interracial marriage,
    and then have a statement that says ‘I’m still for equal protection of the law?’
    What he’s, in essence, saying is that he’s going to advocate the opportunity to
    stand on principle, do the right thing, be consistent with his comments that he’s
    made in the past, and do something he knows that’s right – instead he decides to
    miss this historic opportunity to change the debate, change the tenor, and then
    placates the public by saying ‘I’ll let you decide’ when in fact, he knows the
    history of civil rights, women’s rights have always been defined by the majority
    depressing the minority. It’s the worst kind of politics.”
    (Question from reporter)

    “When you’re at 30% at the polls, and that’s the only folks that’ll support you, the
    [more than?] 30% that oppose same-sex marriage, clearly every decision now is
    being a political calculus …why do you have a special election on trivial issues
    that he’s discussing in special election and wasting all our time and energy?
    That’s politics. This is someone that ran not to be a politician, he ran as a
    different type of politician – someone who will stand on principle and will move
    aside from all the political calculations. This is… I don’t know. I can only smile
    and say: Is anyone not seeing through that? Again, if he opposed same-sex
    marriage in the past, I’d understand this. But he has consistently made
    statements suggesting support. So he’s not even being consistent. Forget his
    private thoughts, with his public statements – go back to the Jay Leno tapes, go
    back to his comments that he’s made consistently in other venues. He’s said, you
    know, ‘I have no problem with same-sex marriage.’ He had an historic
    opportunity in one of the largest states in the world to stand up and say: you
    know what, the Legislature finally did its job. Hasn’t he been the number one
    critic of the Legislature for not doing their job, and that’s why he needs to go to
    the public and the people? Now the Legislature does its job, but he says, well,
    that’s just not good enough – I want to go back to the people. You can’t have it
    both ways all of the time, but he claims, and consistently, is claiming to want it
    both ways all the time. And I just think again, there are a lot people that are hurt
    by this. I mean, I had some comments from some staff members, not to be
    identified, saying I’ve got to call my partner and say it’s not going to happen. This
    is real. This is about basic, fundamental rights. It’s about laying a foundation of
    equality for everybody, and he missed a golden opportunity to stand on history
    and to do something that is noble and appropriate. And he decided to play
    politics and he missed this opportunity. This was hardly a profile in courage.”
    (Question from reporter)
    “What about respect for those people representing the people of the State of
    California in 2005? The fact is he has an opportunity, his quote-unquote-…his
    claims….his first statement seems a bit defensive…is that he’s always stood up
    to advance civil rights, and that domestic partnerships is equal protection – which
    is simply fundamentally an incorrect and inappropriate statement – it’s just
    factually untrue. And then he makes claims that if the Legislature moves forward
    to change in law, then it’s OK — not when mayors do it. He’s said that in the past.
    Then the Legislature does that and he opposes it. And then he uses the obvious
    statement – I said this morning: this is exactly what he was going to say –
    because that’s a politician. I understand the symptoms of being a politician. And
    this is what politicians say – and it’s not someone who’s going to stand on the
    shoulders of history or someone with courage and leadership – but as a politician,
    it was a small decision, by a governor that’s decided not to take the high road,
    but to take the politically expedient low road. And it’s just disappointing because,
    again, it’s about human beings that are not being given the same promise or
    expectations the rest of us have. Asians couldn’t marry whites in this country,
    and in 1958, 94% of Americans opposed interracial marriage. Would Arnold
    Schwarzenegger say: well, let’s go back to the will of the voters, then? Would he?
    I don’t know. Maybe it sounds like that’s what he would do – only the voters can
    decide if women can vote, only the voters can decide if the blacks can become
    American citizens, only the voters can decide if there’s going to be civil rights in
    this country for blacks, only voters can decide if there’s going to be equal
    protection of the law for same-sex couples. What about the fact that a judge in a
    lower court, a Republican, adjudicated that Prop 22 is unconstitutional? That’s
    pretty good evidence. What about the fact that other states and countries
    recognize the absurdity of these laws that deny the right to same-sex marriage?
    What about the fact, the most hypocritical thing that anyone can say, is: I
    acknowledge a relationship – and he, by definition acknowledges in his
    statement that he supports equal protection and supports domestic partnerships
    – which acknowledges the relationship between people of the same sex, but then
    says: guess what, you can’t have the same privileges that I have. You only get
    this much, domestic partnerships is fine. That’s the worst kind of hypocrisy. I’d
    much prefer the governor say: I cannot stand the notion of two people of the
    same sex ever even holding hands – well, at least then he’s consistent. But he’s
    making the great, grand statement that only politicians can make — because no
    one in their conscience could make it and rationalize it at least, and that is that:
    separate is somehow equal. I don’t accept that premise, and I won’t accept that
    notion. And if that’s the foundation he wants to lay in the state, where we’re going
    to have unequal status for people and then he wants to claim all these other
    rights and benefits in sight – I think he’s missing the whole point. You’ve gotta
    have a foundation. If you don’t have a foundation of equality, nothing else can be
    built on that. And right now, we have an unequal system, and we have politicians
    that lack courage and lack conviction, and can’t do what they say privately and
    can’t do, in this case, what they’ve said publicly. Given an opportunity and time to
    make history and to change the direction and the course of this debate across
    this country and around the world, boy – what a moment in time and boy, what a
    wasted moment for his administration.”
    (Question from reporter)
    “I don’t know where he goes right now. I mean, you gotta find a base in a political
    reelection, and if you want to find a base that believes separate is equal – it’s not
    the base I’m looking for, and is maybe the base he is clearly looking for. Again,
    you guys will make the political calculus, I want to put the human face on this,
    and the human face is with the 4,000 couples and their brothers, sisters, ants,
    uncles, fathers, sons and daughters that are affected by this decision. And it’s not
    just the people in the State of California – this would’ve had an extraordinary
    impact on this debate across this country and around the world. Arnold
    Schwarzenegger missed an extraordinary opportunity that comes along once in a
    lifetime – a historic opportunity to stand up on principle and do what he said in
    the past that he might do… and he decided just to advocate and he decided to
    miss it. I can’t tell you I’m surprised, but boy, I’m disappointed. But it’s just politics
    as usual. It’s exactly what you’d expect with people that say they’re going to
    change the tone and tenor and just become the people that they criticize and
    they become the same people. I just kind of … I’m just sad with politics and
    politicians today, but boy am I proud of those 41 people that put their careers on
    the line in the Legislature. There are three or four members – and you guys will
    track this – who may lose their reelection because they stood up on principle to
    advance civil rights, and they need to be applauded as does Mark Leno.”

  26. Bill Perdue says

    TO comments with an acidity reserved for those duped by useless, inept politics. TO gushes with praise for Newsome while committing the gross error of those who project their own aspirations onto politicians. Politicians and candidates are con artists trained from birth to promise anyone anything at any time.
    A more impotent approach to politics cannot be imagined. Stonewall and Log Cabin members can’t break free from their political closets and. like TO. constantly whirl about defending this or that ‘lesser evil. They are all Mary Cheneys’ and they’re all guilty of supporting the twin parties of homophobia, imperial wars, racism, misogyny, and attacks on unions, immigrants, the poor and the elderly.
    Such politics are shameful and reprehensible. Newsome is no hero to me but Sam Adams is, and in 1777. Commenting on their equivalent of the stoneheads and the logheads, he said ” If you love wealth greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not you counsel, nor your arms.
    Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

  27. GBM says

    Schwarzenegger also plans to veto a bill that would require LGBT history to be included in California’s history books, if he hasn’t already.

  28. JOE 2 says

    Bill Perdue –

    I appreciate and share your distrust of politicians, and agree with you that both major political parties are beholden to Big Business. Nevertheless, I’m curious as to why – given the 100% failure rate of third-party candidates to win the Presidency in the history of the United States – you think that Labor Party candidates are a viable option in 2008. I’m also curioius as to why – given the realities of human nature – you don’t think that third-party politicians would become just as self-interested and power-hungry as most of today’s politicians are.

    BTW, what’s un-heroic about Gavin Newsom calling the other members of his party cowards and hypocrites, and really putting his ass on the line for SSM? Or do you ascribe his behavior to self-promotion? And, if so, why (again) do you think third-party candidates would behave any differently?

    Just curious.

  29. Bill Perdue says

    Hey Joe,

    Those are good questions and deserve good answers – I hope these comments help.

    First, to my knowledge only one third party candidate was ever successful, and his name was A. Lincoln.

    Secondly, from the onset, the Labor Party in the US will
    have little chance of winning in regular elections because of electoral rigging, voting ‘irregularities’, and because it’ll be outspent by the twin parties of homophobia, etc. The goal of the Labor Party, until the social crisis deepens beyond the point of reform or repair, will be to use elections as an educational and organizing tool, an adjunct to building mass movements to promote union organizing, equal rights, immediate withdrawal form Iraq, etc.

    Consider the critical questions we face. In 1776 a great revolutionary upheaval rocked North America. Shortly thereafter, in 1860 another great social shaker devastated the arrogance and treason of the criminal Southern slave-owners. Both of these extraordinary events, fundamentally altered the nation.

    A new revolutionary temblor has been powering up for decades.

    In the last thirty years growing numbers of working people have taken a beating, forced to work longer and harder to make ends meet. From the end of the Second World War until the 1970’s the economic successes of working people, based on the victories won by unions during angry struggles, smoothed over the jagged edges of American society.

    Now fissuring and fracturing are seen all across the social landscape. It began during Nixon’s second term as inflation, ignited and fueled by the war in Vietnam, began to smolder through the economy. Nixon imposed wage and price restraints. But while income stagnated prices rose sharply from the inexorable pressure of war induced inflation. As the cost of Vietnam brought economic troubles for working people with higher taxes and prices, and lower wages, the corporations, backed by both parties, took the opportunity to launch sharp attacks on unions and working people. Reagan launched broadside attacks against the union movement, and Clinton slashed the welfare systems that provided a partial parachute for those pushed out of the job market. That combination of events and policies began eating away at workers economic achievements.
    Now, 30 some years later, the economic security that many took for granted is lost, replaced by mounting anger and anxiety. Unions, our first line of defense against the arrogant greed of the rich, operate at a great disadvantage. Subject to a government of, for and by the rich, they’re boxed in on all sides by anti- union laws and regulations. Their feeble, accommodating leaders are often led around on leashes. Their weaknesses, combined with the steady wearing down of our standards of living and mounting poverty has cracked the daydream of social harmony.
    Like the disquieting jerks and shudders that occasionally rumbled through the ’body politic’ before the detonations of 1775 and 1860, new shocks and tremors signal the approach of another great upheaval. Razor sharp divisions are once again shredding the national consensus. The ‘middle ground’, once so beloved by slippery politicians, is now just a place where they’re targeted by all sides. Ask Kerry.
    On ‘important’ questions – read money, wealth, or privilege – the two parties line up shoulder to shoulder, a frozen phalanx of felonious fakers whose greed and appetite for power are reliable tools used by the rich to safeguard their vested interests. For a century and a half, since Lincoln’s reelection in 1864, the American people have had a sullen, hostile approach to elections, candidates and politics because they’ve been force fed one ‘lesser evil’ after another. Sick of it, millions of Americans refuse to accept the legitimacy of these dismal frauds. Why would anyone? Why should we?

    Third, while making a solid effort to build the emerging Labor Party and other groups engaging in independent political action, we can learn to use elections to educate and organize, instead of relying on them as instruments of fundamental change. It’ll be to our advantage to be in the Labor Party, which is organically tied to unions and the rising labor antiwar movement. It’s open to everyone who wants to break with our enemies and fight for themselves and a firm foundation for the creation of a powerful, combative counterweight to the power of the bigots.

    Being in the Labor Party doesn’t mean conceding our agenda for equality. New Zealand‘s Rainbow Labour group plays a key role in the NZ Labour Party while pushing hard for it’s agenda and fielding it’s own candidates. As they say “With three identifiably queer MPs and a Labour led government, our voices are no longer whispers in the darkness. And with the appointment of Chris Carter as the first openly gay Cabinet Minister in August 2002, we have a voice of our own at the top table, too. Rainbow Labour now has six branches and over three hundred members nationwide, and we are still growing. “
    The emergence of independent political activity by the US Labor Party signals that the political situation is swiftly maturing. There are other signs – a budding youth radicalization, the universal denunciation of the criminal neglect of citizens during the Katrina tragedy, the striking growth and popularity of combative protest activities of all types, the mounting demands of rank and file unionists that their ‘leader’s’ get moving or get out of the way – all point up the end of a long period of quiescence, especially by labor, which is rightly considered to be the heavy infantry in fights for social justice. .
    For the time being working people remain stunned by what’s happening to their standard of living and benefits, impoverishment and horrors like Katrina and Iraq. Silent and sullen, our dissatisfaction and resentment is, for a moment, restricted to grumbling and sporadic demonstrations or strikes over immediate issues. As conditions worsen, we’ll witness that initial response mature into anger and finally a white hot fury. Then it will be time to shake, rattle and roll
    There are no guarantees that the development of the Labor Party and other more radical groups will be quick or smooth. But choosing it instead of backstabbing Democrats and Republican attack dogs is a no-brainer. It’s far and away the best political game for now. Its future is assured because the rich are not likely to give up being immensely rich, or allow themselves to be reformed out of power.

    Fourth, the question is not Newsom’s character or smarts but his membership in and leadership of a party that in spite of it’s lies, is our enemy as much as are the Republicans. Newsome is like Jesse Jackson, he has some good things to say but he’s in bed with the enemy. Both could be in the Labor Party, if like all liberals, they were kept on a tight leash and understood that labor will call the shots.

    Bill Perdue, RainbowRED Organization

  30. Jim says

    What Socialist Workers Party horseshit! Did you dream last night of seeing Joe Hill, too? While I support unionism in concept, unions in America, far from such the fairytale noble class you paint, sacrificing for the greater good, willing to die for the equality of all, have repeatedly shown themselves more likely to be just more pigs fighting for their place at the trough. The vast majority are most motivated by their own pocketbook just like the stereotypical rich. Lay off the pot, dude–you’re just as brainwashed as the most self-deluded gay Republican. Homos for Hemp meeting starting in 5, 4, 3…..

  31. JOE 2 says

    Bill Perdue –

    Thank you for your thoughtful, eloquent, and passionate response to my questions. I applaud your depth of feeling and your commitment. Thanks, also, for your correction re Abe Lincoln.

    If I understand you correctly, the question I raised – regarding human nature and the likelihood (or lack thereof) of third-party candidates succumbing to the same power motives that drive most politicians – is beside the point in your perspective. I hear you saying that the rationale for a third party, and for a third party fielding candidates, is not necessarily to elect a President in 2008, but to educate the electorate and to organize a movement in opposition to the prevailing military-industrial complex (please correct me if I have misinterpreted your words). I also hear you saying that Newsom may be doing a good thing by saying what he’s saying, but that his membership in the Democratic party automatically renders him untrustworthy.

    You may very well be right. I often think that the political situation in the US is so dire, and the electorate so unaware, that nothing short of a revolution will change anything, although I can’t quite picture people taking to the streets and burning down buildings and generally replaying the French Revolution. At the same time, I don’t feel as though I have an answer.

    I do think it’s important to recognize that many people are distressed, and many people have differing opinions as to what the best course of action is, and that – as with metaphysical questions – no one can ever claim to be in possession of the absolute truth.

    Although I do think the Republicans stole both of the preceding Presidential elections (see my previous post re RFK, Jr.’s Rolling Stone article), and that they probably would have found a way to do so in any event, I also think a case can be made for the idea that Nader’s candidacy cost Gore the election in 2000. And, despite the imperfections and transgressions of the Democratic party, I think there’s little doubt that a Gore Presidency would have been an extremely different thing than the abomination that has been, and continues to be, the Bush Administration. At the very least, Gore would not have unilaterally decided to invade the sovereign nation of Iraq, and that alone would have rendered the world a monumentally different place than it is today.

    Of course no one knows how things will have unfolded by the time the 2008 elections roll around, least of all me. Nonetheless, the stakes are so high at this point that it’s unlikely that I’ll end up voting for an unelectable third-party candidate and thereby, in effect, voting “for” the worse of the two major-party candidates (most likely the Republican).

    I may not agree with your strategy, but I respect your motivation and, as I said, no one knows for sure – you may be right.

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