Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gavin Newsom, gay marriage, and the re-election of George W. Bush

Photo by Kim Komenich for the SF Chronicle
 
I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but history will not see Gavin Newsom as a great leader for sparking the gay marriage revolution.

The Chronicle's editorial writer ("It was all a matter of time")---not known for endorsing upopular ideas---smugly skims over the timing of his gay marriage initiative---in February, 2004, in a presidential election year---that was opposed by virtually every elected Democratic Party official in the country at the time.
 
They were right to be worried, since Newsom's move led to conservatives qualifying anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot in eleven (11) states, all of which were successful in November, 2004:

Change was inevitable..."It manifested initially very negatively," Newsom recalled. Some of his close political allies, even his own father, thought the Valentine's Day rebellion was a mistake. Some analysts, most pointedly Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., suggested the backlash helped President George W. Bush's re-election.

Newsom's gay marriage initiative helped re-elect George W. Bush, leading to four more years of war in the Middle East and more judicial appointments---including Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court during his second term. History will judge Newsom's timing more harshly than the Chronicle's editorial board.
 
Willie Brown gets on the bandwagon this morning:
 
Newsom scored highest on the applause meter[at City Hall], followed closely by Herrera---who finally came bounding down the stairs once he'd digested what the court had done. Herrera also got the biggest laugh when he ended his remarks by quoting Newsom's infamous line, "It's here, whether you like it or not." I have to hand it to Gavin. He really did change the world, and he had to endure holy hell for doing so. My only regret is that I didn't think of it first.
 
I like it just fine, but I would have liked it a lot better if he'd waited until after the election that year, with President Bush winning a second term in a close election. And I bet at the time Willie Brown shared Senator Feinstein's---and Barney Frank's---concern about Newsom's timing.
 
Gavin Newsom's greatest, most enduring achievement for the City of San Francisco were his initiatives on homelessness in the city, with Care Not Cash, Homeward Bound, supportive housing, and Project Homeless Connect.
 

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