Gavin Newsom: Obama Position on Same-Sex Marriage is ‘Fundamentally Inexcusable’

In a NYT column, Maureen Dowd talks to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom about his political fortunes and those of President Obama.

Newsom Says Newsom: "I want him to succeed. But I am very upset by what he’s not done in
terms of rights of gays and lesbians. I understand it tactically in a
campaign, but at this point I don’t know. There is some belief that he
actually doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage. But it’s fundamentally
inexcusable for a member of the Democratic Party to stand on the
principle that separate is now equal, but only on the basis of sexual
orientation. We’ve always fought for the rights of minorities and
against the whims of majorities."

The Trials of Gavin Newsom [nyt]


  1. jmdrwac says

    Newsom is right. Not only is it fundamentally inexcusable, in the case of Obama it is highly ironic.

    Remember the promises about waiting until this that or the other was done. Now the excuse will be no supermajority. We’re fucked again.

  2. says

    Considering the major shifts happening, fighting about marriage equality seems kind of ridiculous. If we can’t persuade working people that health-care reform benefits them, how can anyone—even the great communicator that Barack Obama is when he chooses to be—persuade them on marriage equality?

    Our hopes lie in the courts. Period.

    Gay people need to wake up just as much as Obama does and learn where our battles are.

  3. stephen says

    Gavin will always be a hero for me…

    Obama, like many others (Feinstein, etc) will be remembered for their “gradualist” approach that essentially advocates private citizens waiting for approval before they can have equality.

    It’s nothing new… even Jimmy Carter didn’t want to be photographed with Harvey Milk.

  4. SFshawn says

    Thanks to Gavin we are even having this marriage/equality conversation. Thanks to Obama and his administration the conversation is very one sided and not the equality side.

  5. patrick nyc says

    Being from the opposite coast, I don’t know much about the day to day running of SF and his critics. That said I admire his bringing this issue to the front lines, as well to the Supreme Court.

    For that alone, we gays should offer him a tip of the hat, as well as our respect.

  6. jmdrwac says

    Matthew, you just don’t get it. “Considering the major shifts” whatever those are, it is ridiculous to fight for marriage equality??? It is never ridiculous to fight for equality.

    Yes, the courts may be the governmental leaders on this, as they were in the 50s and 60s, but courts do not operate in a vacuum. They are far more likely to champion equality if people are aggressively agitating for it. Judges change their views of the world too. Our job is to help them.

  7. Marc says

    I wish Gavin and others would stop their belly-aching!!

    Both California and New York have rejected gay marriage over the past year or so. Other states have been passing anti-gay marriage laws like Pez through a dispenser. And we’re supposed to expect a politician to fall on our political sword just to make us feel good? How stupid is that logic?

    How about this? We work harder to elect more progressive leaders to Congress and statehouses, put more money into campaigns against these hateful efforts, and then see if our President signs the law we worked hard to get progressive politicians to enact. Surely we cannot expect any President to get ahead of the electorate, especially on an issue it is clear a majority of the electorate is still saying no to!!

    No one should know this lesson better than Gavin, who it is worth remembering had to give up his floundering governor’s race in a Democratic primary despite providing gay marriage in his city!! Turns out the rest of the Democrats in California did not see gay marriage or his efforts to get it enacted as the political panacea as Gavin did, which is too bad. But it’s a reflection on the electorate. We need to change hearts, before changing minds can take effective hold.

  8. GrabbinNewscum says

    My city’s infrastructure is crumbling, the public transportation system is dysfunctional, unemployment is up and tourism is down, but


    Did I distract you all from my failed mayoralty?

  9. Keith near Dolores Park says

    I’m sure that DiFi and the rest of the Establishment Dems will blame The Gav for Brown’s victory, the failure of Health Care Reform, and anything else they haven’t accomplished. He’s got his problems as Mayor of Bagdad-By-The-Bay but blaming him for everything from Kerry’s defeat to Gay Marriage sounds like finger pointing. Fix the problem not the blame!

  10. says

    Translation of Marc’s post:

    “It’s not Obama’s fault that despite his EXPLICIT promises: ‘I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans’ and ‘Join with me, and I will provide that LEADERSHIP [to LGBT equality]’ he has turned to mush. After all, he’s only the PRESIDENT, as well as the fuctional leader of his Party who is supposed to wrangle them into supporting his agenda not reinforce their moral cowardice. My boyfriend, er Obama, is still as pure and innocent as the driven snow.”

    Translation of GrabbieNewscum’s post:

    No need. It’s all in the psychotic bile [and cowardice] of his Netname. Oh, BTW, Grabbie, Walgreen’s in the Tenderloin called and your Haloperidol prescription is ready, and Safeway would like their shopping cart back [again].

  11. Marc says

    No. This is why Democrats lose elections, Michael. You look to one person to solve your problems instead of trying to solve them yourself. Even if Obama is inclined to do more on gay rights issues, which I think he is, he still must do it within the confines of the political system he inherited and the Democratic party make-up, we the electorate have given him. You still believe in this naive ideal of the “bully pulpit.” Obama is the pied piper and the Nation will just come along and sing-song with whatever he wants. How daft?

    To change laws as controversial as gay rights tend to be, he needs political foot-soldiers in Congress–enough of them to constitute a supermajority. He doesn’t have it. 59 or 60 Democrats is only a number; what he has in truth is maybe 53 or 54 progressive Democrats. The others have to run in Red States where taking such a controversial stand will get them booted out of office. That may be weasily of them, but that is there problem and call to make. It still doesn’t guarantee us 60 votes to break a filibuster simply because we talk about it. We’ve been talking about it for years, California and New York have some of the gayest populations in the country and Democrats in charge of almost everything. They still don’t have gay marriage. Your anger, while understandable, is misplaced.

    Work on voting in more progressives and then they can take a stand on gay marriage and lead the country.

    And even if none of this true, he’s still entitled to work through the issue of gay marriage just like the rest of us.

  12. Matthew says

    Wow, Marc. I guess you don’t think leadership means anything. Obama’s words just cannot sway anyone! His opposition to our fundamental rights is doing the community no harm.<—sarcasm! Do you work for the Obama administration?

  13. Marc says

    Matthew, first, I do not work for the Obama administration. Second, yes, leadership means something. But I don’t buy the notion that leadership has to be so noble as to be potentially fatal. Presidents aren’t that far ahead of their electorate, or they get crushed. So, would you rather Obama take a stand for gay marriage (an issue, by the way, he told us during the campaign he did not support–so I don’t know why this is coming as a shock to so many freakin’ people) and lose the election, thereby giving the country over to some right-wing, hate-filled nut for 8 or 16 years? It’s like you folks don’t have a pragmatic political bone in your body. All that matters is the cause, and each leader should fall on the cause’s sword no matter what. The Republicans thought this political purity was best for their party; now they have nothing but hard-right people. The Democrats are dangerously close to following in their footsteps, and that cannot–is not–good for the country or our cause!

  14. Matthew says

    You are not worth my time, Marc. Enjoy making excuses for people who take your vote and stab you in the back.

  15. Jeremy says

    Marc, it’s attitudes like that which have the Democratic Party in the position it is. Their support for what are supposed to be their principles is so tepid, that they end up coming across as dishonest and unprincipled and might as well not stand for anything at all. This is not the sort of record that draws people out to vote, and Obama’s speeches will only go so far before people will start to wonder if there is actually any substance backing up his pretty words.

  16. Marc says


    Maybe it’s the Democrats’ need to be progressive in a center-right country that is the reason things come across as dishonest and unprincipled. Obama and other politicians get this; Obama is moderate parading as a progressive. He believes in incremental steps to achieving human and civil rights, because as a student of history he understands this is how true progress comes. It doesn’t come in one fell swoop!

    Perhaps it’s having to kowtow to people like you all that they (and you) come across as politically tone deaf. Just maybe–and if you aren’t willing to at least acknowledge that this might be true, then you’re naive about politics and history.

  17. Paul R says

    I’d be disappointed (and perhaps mildly surprised) if Gavin gave up politics for good, though I don’t know the man and would certainly understand his reasons for it. Being a politician would be rotten: constant criticism, fund raising, attending events that are a big waste of time but essential for votes and press coverage, etc.

    He can make magnitudes more in the private sector and not have to deal with any of that. And history will eventually prove him right on marriage equality and other issues.

  18. DAN A says

    This might not be the best place, but I want to complain about the TV channel Logo. This is supposed to be a gay channel but they never cover our struggle. I can’t help thinking if BET had been around during the civil rights movement, it would have covered the issue 24 hours a day. Why isnt Logo helping to rally us or even covering the issue for that matter?

  19. nic says

    gavin is right. just as coakly pissed away the election, barack has been strangely absent from the debate on health-care reform. he handed it over to congress, did a pontius pilate-like washing of his hands, and sat on the sidelines. no passion for his own cause celebre. he ran on this, for cripes sake! he brings truth to the rightist idea that intellectuals are effete.

    he had a super-majority in the senate, and the dems controlled the house. and, he pissed that away. he is a political novice, a naif lost in the woods of compromise and bi-partisanship. i can’t help but think that hillary would not have been so silly.

    i hate to say i told you so, but….

  20. says

    Mayor gavin newsom, sounds like a gay man, maybe he is also cheatin on his wife wit another gay dude. Stupid newsom gavin wit a samll letter ‘n’ewsom ‘g’avin, just shut the fuck up k

  21. says

    I have to agree with Marc on this too many Gay people just think that the world owes them something.As we saw int the last election Americans are not that ready for Gay rights period. And if you think the Republicans are going to pave the way, good luck. Also the veiled notion that because he is black that he should be receptive to this cause is idiotic to say the least. We all know that in the gay scene we can be equally if not more racially insensitive.I have the notion that he wants to make sure that when the law is passed it will be so air tight that no bigoted President can come after him and strike down the law. (Look what Sister Palin is trying to do with Roe V Wade).Please dont forget the right to vote did not happen in a day, and it was only cica 40 years ago.