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Exclusive: SF Mayor Gavin Newsom Asked Court to Delay Prop 8 Ruling

Confidential sources close to San Francisco City Hall told Towleroad's Corey Johnson that the California Supreme Court was prepared to release its opinion on Proposition 8 tomorrow, but decided to delay the ruling after a call from Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom"Newsom reached out to the Supreme Court and asked them to hold off releasing their decision so it did not coincide with the White Night riots," said our source.

As mentioned earlier, a ruling Thursday would have fallen on the 30th anniversary of the San Francisco riots, which were set off when the court handed down the most lenient decision possible (voluntary manslaughter) against Dan White for the murders of supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. The ensuing riots in San Francisco on May 21, 1979 caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

UPDATE: Towleroad received this tip from a highly credible source who did the interview on the condition that they remain anonymous. We have been working to get additional sources.

Gavin Newsom's office has issued a release denying the story.

San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty spoke with Towleroad late this afternoon, saying he doubted the claims. Said Dufty: "It is implausible if not impossible to imagine that the Mayor could reach out to the California Supreme Court. Any thinking person would know that he would be radioactive to the justices given his leadership on the issue. His father is a retired federal judge. The Mayor's courage on this issue is unimpeachable. He would not intrude in what we've been waiting for."

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  1. Ralph, Smalph. Disagree with me all you want, but I won’t allow you to hysterically misquote and misrepresent me, because of some ongoing ‘hate the message-shoot the messenger” axe you have to grind. What I did write:

    “It's not like there are that many people gays [sic] still alive in SF that remember the riots AND would also be motivated to act ANY WORSE after a negative decision tomorrow than they would the next scheduled announcement day.”

    Never came close to saying everyone alive then had died. But I do challenge your implied assumption about the ubiquitous of awareness of it among those alive then, and the “ready to rumble” mindset of those now in their late 50s and above. And there’s no reason to believe those who are will be no less motivated any other night. It’s not like there have been banners up all month across Castro street, stories on the SF news every night, “White Night is coming! White Night is coming!” or that Cliff's Hardware has been advertising a sale on Molotov Cocktails.

    Every time I’ve seen the White Night Riot [singular] mentioned here and elsewhere, the majority of posters act as if they’ve never heard of it. Many probably because they weren’t “14” or whatever age of understanding in 1978; others because it has been virtually and intentionally buried by most gay historians, if they heard about it at all after the Bay Area pansyniks and dykeniks of the time quickly buried it under their prissy pacifist meltdown.

    I know that because I have read a great deal of gay histories that have been published since I was there that night myself, was clubbed in the back by a police officer at City Hall, watched the Police Riot of revenge in the Castro later that night from the roof of my apartment building at 18th & Castro. I remember Sally Gearhart, admirable in other ways, clucking, “We must not be violent. We must not even talk about it. Even think about it.” And, when I heard Holly Near bleating from the platform set up in front of the Castro Theatre for Harvey’s birthday celebration the next night,

    “We are a GENTLE angry people
    Singing, singing for our lives
    We are a land of many colors...
    We are an anti-nuclear people...
    We are gay and straight together...
    We are a PEACEFUL, loving people...”

    I wanted to beat her with her own guitar.

    And I wish the person who perceives that "the nation" knew about it and "stereotypes were immediately shattered" was right, but he's not. If he were, we wouldn't still be second class citizens 31 years later, weeping with gratitude whenever Massa Obama even says the word "Gay."

    The majority who weren’t here then, or who don’t know someone who was, IF they know about it at all, know about it primarily from the documentary, “The Times of Harvey Milk.” Van Sant, curiously and indefensibly, left it out of his biopic, thus contributing the perception you see everywhere that Harvey would want us to just be holding candlelight vigils and hugging Mormons now.

    It made Stonewall look like a gay-sponsored pancake breakfast for the NYC Police Athletic League, and SHOULD be told to our children and our children’s children.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | May 20, 2009 5:53:25 PM

  2. Correction, only 30 years more of inequality more, of course. What's a year or two when you're still irrelevant to most Americans AND the president you helped elect.

    And, Tom, I agree with the exception. MANY activists have worked as hard as you say, but not all, certainly not HRC's Joe "Nevilla Chamberlain" Solmonese, and the majority of the so-called "Impact/Stonewall 2.0" tribe don't get it at all.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | May 20, 2009 6:05:26 PM

  3. The way I understand what happened in NH is that the Gov wanted too much and the results could have been a town hall employee refusing to deliver a license on moral grounds, it could give any homophobic SOB turning down any request from hospitals to pharmacists, caretakers the right to do so based on moral ground. this was my understanding, it would have been the golfer's hell everything top notch but no balls.
    As for the young one calling me an old fat queer behind my computer, am not fat not queer and live in Belgium where we have SSM, where the only ones to hit the streets were the "good Christians" and not much good it did them, and I did my stuff in 1968. I can only give you moral support.

    Posted by: fern | May 20, 2009 6:10:22 PM

  4. The fact that Newsom asked to delay the decision has nothing to do with the outcome.
    I still have faith in a favorable decision.

    Posted by: fern | May 20, 2009 6:15:39 PM

  5. Newsom is the chief executive of San Francisco County. Which means he's responsible for maintaining public order. While he would never suggest that the justices tell him what the ruling actually says, he certainly could say:

    "Look, if you release it on the anniversary of a gay-related riot, there might be trouble. And given how understaffed my security forces are, I can't guarantee that your courthouse will be safe."

    It would still be upto the court whether they want to go through with handing down a decision on that particular date or not. That's their call. By presenting the appearance of being extra cautious, however, Newsom can say "I told you so" if there's any disturbance. If these reports are true, then it would be a fairly clever move on his part. There's nothing unusual about a politician being a politician.

    Posted by: John | May 20, 2009 6:19:56 PM

  6. But if the California Supreme Court decision wasn't another judicial kick in the teeth, why not release the ruling as a riposte to an earlier bad judicial decision?

    To me, either the decision is really bad for our community or Newsom displayed a public case of cold feet. We'll just have to wait and see what the court decides for good or ill.

    Posted by: Peter | May 20, 2009 6:33:13 PM

  7. And where is the new Harvey Milk ? There must have been a regeneration.

    Posted by: hephaistion | May 20, 2009 6:37:01 PM

  8. Newson just said on Twitter that this story on this site is NOT TRUE he never reached out to the court.

    Posted by: rusty | May 20, 2009 6:37:55 PM

  9. Gavin's office is denying this claim.

    Posted by: Garrett in SF | May 20, 2009 6:47:39 PM

  10. Gavin wrote on Twitter: "Lots of tweets about me and supreme court today, not correct – if I could influence court, would use it to support marriage equality."

    Posted by: stephen k | May 20, 2009 6:59:04 PM

  11. Newsom's office has issued a press release denying this ( and asking "the website" to correct the report.

    Even if well-sourced, Andy should update the post to reflect the mayor's denial.

    Posted by: pistolpetey | May 20, 2009 7:15:05 PM

  12. I have to agree with Leland and all the other posters that THE WHITE NIGHT RIOT was a true, defient, couragous, PROUD ACT OF VIOLENCE. It's also true that so many LGBT know nothing about it. I wasn't there, I was in college and I was CRAZED at the verdict and Proud of those who participated in both the peaceful as well as the violence that night.

    And GOD I HATE that Holly Near crap of a song.

    Posted by: MCnNYC | May 20, 2009 7:21:45 PM

    Today a website posted an item that quoted a false allegation from an unnamed source: "Mayor [Gavin] Newsom reached out to the Supreme Court and asked them to hold off releasing their decision so it did not coincide with the White Night riots."

    This allegation is not true. We have asked the website to correct the item immediately."

    You have to watch those "confidential sources" - methinks people who don't like Gavin just want to shoot at Gavin's run for Mayor. Not that I like Gavin that much, but I have to question sources that are allegedly close to a source, but refuse to go on record.

    Posted by: Scott | May 20, 2009 7:24:37 PM

  14. Newsom's office just sent a statement denying the rumor and asking Towleroad to take down the untrue item. We posted on Andy's entry, but have updated the post to include Newsom's statement.

    "Today a website posted an item that quoted a false allegation from an
    unnamed source: "Mayor [Gavin] Newsom reached out to the Supreme Court and
    asked them to hold off releasing their decision so it did not coincide with
    the White Night riots."

    This allegation is not true. We have asked the website to correct the item

    Posted by: Bil Browning | May 20, 2009 7:24:51 PM

  15. It would illegal for a party to the suit (Newsom) to contact the court ex parte, privately, for any reason, or vice versa, because it could be seen as trying to affect the outcome of the case which isn't actually decided until the opinion is posted.

    If the court got a communication like that they would legally have to ignore it, or acknowledge it only by finding Newsom/SF in contempt of court.

    This is where the whole story loses credibility.

    Posted by: Chris | May 20, 2009 8:16:31 PM

  16. @ Ryan - So glad that YOU have blessed riots in LA and SD. Asshole.

    Posted by: Tralfaz | May 20, 2009 8:17:34 PM

  17. @ Leland - Uh I was a teenager when the White Night Riots took place. My best friend's brother was there and talk about it. It's a part of our history just like Stonewall was. I sure as hell remember that. AND ... I also have told those younger than myself or my family what this meant to us. My parents watched MILK with me over Mother's Day weekend and they wept when I told them about that night.

    Posted by: Tralfaz | May 20, 2009 8:24:53 PM

  18. Screw keeping it civil. FInd a Mormon. Beat them up. Repeat as necessary.

    Posted by: JakiChan | May 20, 2009 8:51:12 PM

  19. I live in this "small town" and work at the supreme court in SF. Newsom does not know the outcome any more than anyone else. I spoke with the courts' public information officer today, and she was asking ME if I knew anything from the gay blogs. She doesn't even know, so there's really no way that Gavin does. I think he's being prudent.

    I'm 45, BTW, and I remember White Night, even though I didn't yet live here. Not all of us are dead.

    Posted by: SFDex | May 20, 2009 8:59:44 PM

  20. I do believe that organized civil disobedience could be pretty powerful and keep us sympathetic to those who are on the fence. If we riot and cause destruction we don't do ourselves any favors. A thousand gay men and women blocking traffic during rush hour in every major city in CA or better yet: block everyone from getting marriage licenses. If we can't have them, no one will. Pick an intersection/office and a time and be there. Pretty easy to organize via the internets. Refuse to give information and refuse to move: but never fight back. Just be in the way. That is what has worked before: get in the way and refuse to move. Repeat as necessary. Just a thought.

    Posted by: ZnSD | May 20, 2009 9:01:50 PM

  21. We want the gays to riot because civil unions are next and taking away the right to adopt kids. You gays called, civil rights or civil war. Look forward to the blood running in gay SF. The National Guard must be put on alert and Obama must be ready to call the army to siege SF because the gays are ready to die for gay marriage. Lets give them what they want, death instead of them killing us with their mafia or spreading of AID's to our youth.

    Posted by: gunshowsigns | May 20, 2009 9:22:44 PM

  22. Blocking street traffic and disrupting government officials from performing their duties is just as illegal as looting and vandalism. They could arrest you for it.

    Posted by: John | May 20, 2009 9:26:15 PM

  23. Some of us teenagers know about Harvey Milk and the White Night Riot/Stonewall so don't be too discouraged.

    -from a 17 year old (18th coming up, day after Milk's bday)

    Posted by: Brianna | May 20, 2009 9:46:00 PM

  24. Good for you, Tralfaz. And keep telling it.

    Here's a link to some scenes from that incredible afternoon and night, 30 years ago Thursday. The last few seconds are of the police [still enraged that they had been held back at City Hall for so long by the police chief who feared a bloodbath] cold-bloodedly attacking innocent pedestrians on Castro Street in front of [I believe] the former location of the Midnight Sun [now on 18th].

    Posted by: Leland Frances | May 20, 2009 9:56:08 PM

  25. It is definitely time to RIOT! We are being screwed left and right. Hell, we can't even get a queer boy to win American Idol.

    Civil Disobedience nonstop until we have our civil rights!

    Posted by: Pissed Off Fag | May 20, 2009 10:05:59 PM

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