SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR CHIDES BARACK OBAMA for framing ‘civil unions’ preferable to ‘marriage equality’

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PHOTOS BY BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

BY PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

The leading Democratic contender for President of the United States arrived in San Francisco Friday to receive endorsement from a big city mayor still blamed by some for Democratic presidential defeat in 2004.

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Chris Andrews of The Academy of Sciences welcomes the former First Lady, current US Senator, and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton with San Francisco Mayor Gaven Newsom who Friday endorsed the Senator.

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) stood before national media at Gavin Newsom’s side to accept his endorsement on the very day filing deadline passed for major City candidates to take a shot at defeating Newsom re-election November 2007.

None took the shot.

In the end — and in a town where a priest at San Francisco touchstone Saints Peter and Paul Church still tells parishioners the worst decision of the priest’s life was telling parishioners to vote for Gavin Newsom — all potential major candidates declined the challenge.

The priest early viewed Newsom as a two-term City supervisor from the upscale Marina District, a devout Roman Catholic, an articulate young man with commanding presence, a man who patterned his values on those demanded by Robert F. Kennnedy.

Newsom reminded other people of Camelot and quickly became the fair haired boy of national Democratic politics when first elected to San Francisco mayoralty.

But within weeks of his election, from atop America’s Shining City on The Hill, Newsom did something a little funny, something that made America think there might be something a little wrong with him — Newsom made it legal for America’s disdained steers and queers to get a Marriage License in his town.

It only took a day to retype the San Francisco Marriage License template from “man” or “woman” to “spouse,” and as quickly as they rolled off the presses Newsom lost his bling everywhere except in his City that knows how.

He was shunned by California and national Democrats, by the Church pitching a mother’s knee to abide, by old friends, by resilient old fears.

Yet Newsom drew serenity in the confessional, his heart did not waver, and his political gut was vindicated nationally yesterday, August 10 2007.

Hillary Clinton, like the rest of Democratic and Republican America, supports civil unions for LGBT couples as national policy because that’s where the power of Gavin Newsom’s act has moved the world body politic.

While it falls short of marriage equality, national support for civil unions was unthinkable five years ago.

Clinton’s pilgrimage to Newsom, not vice versa, blonded Newsom’s hair once again, if streaked now with strands of gray.

Friday evening Newsom was honored by the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association of the American BAR Association, and shared his ‘gay marriage’ experience with a frankness not heard before.

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PHOTO BY BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

“You always look back; was it the right thing to do, the timing issue, was there a better approach, could you have just used the legal process to advance litigation,” Newsom begain.

“I never — ever, ever, ever — could have imagined that I would have been identified with this issue as I’ve been identified.

“It’s not something I campaigned on, it’s not something that frankly I gave a lot of thought to.

“It was circumstantical. I was reacting to something. I felt powerless and I said, ‘Migawd, I’ve been given this incredible gift to be the mayor of this City I love so dearly.’

“And I have an opportunity to at least put a human face on this issue and that’s all we were really trying to do.

“We were trying to do something that you can’t do any other way except by forcing people to reconcile a different type of reality than their own. Not in the abstract but to look at that narrative and look at the story of life at the time of the two people we had in mind — Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin.

“And to sit there and to have to defend why it is that a 51-year relationship of faith, love and trust was somehow ‘lesser’ than your five-week relationship going to Vegas to say ‘I do.’

“And so for that I make no apologies, and I’m really proud of that moment.

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Liz Mangelsdorf Photo

“Today we were with Hillary Clinton… who could have imagined honestly that the Democratic candidates would have ever agreed to debate (the issue).

“And who here honestly can tell me they could have imagined… that the mainstream position, not just the Democratic Party but arguably the Republican Party, Dick Chenery, would have changed so much

“I heard Monday morning that George Bush says the same thing, and countless others, that the mainstream position on marriage equality is civil unions.

“Democrats five years ago still had a hard time five years ago with domestic partnerships. Republicans in most cases never even wanted to reflect upon it.

“But now everbody has jumped to the easier question of equality by immediately attaching themselves to civil unions — a safer position and the more mainstream position.

“That shows how far we’ve come in just a few short years.

“I don’t look back as if the last few years where we lost some court decisions, or some states have moved to try to close the door on marriage equality as failures.

“I don’t look back at those examples as setbacks because the door has opened.

“And it’s wide open and there’s no way they will ever be able to close it.

“And with respect to what Barack said, and I have great admiration for him, it’s just simply not true.

“Civil Unions are lesser than marriage.

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“Respectfully, for the same reason that Barack Obama and others are not running to get rid of their Marriage Licenses to become civil unions.

“If you believe in full equality you’ve got to demonstrate it by stepping up, and I think eventually these guys will.

“I think in their hearts they already know its the right thing,” said an American leader who took a stand, and knew his heart.

See Related: PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON AT THE FAIRMONT – ‘The Internet has made it possible for people of modest means, if they agree on one thing, to change the World’

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PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
In his youth, Pat Murphy worked as a General Assignment reporter for the Richmond Independent, the Berkeley Daily Gazette, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He served as Managing Editor of the St. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger at age 21. Murphy also launched ValPak couponing in San Francisco, as the company’s first San Francisco franchise owner. He walked the bricks, developing ad strategy for a broad range of restaurants and merchants. Pat knows what works and what doesn’t work. His writing skill has been employed by marketing agencies, including Don Solem & Associates. He has covered San Francisco governance for the past ten years. Pat scribes an offbeat view of the human family through Believe It or What.

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photographer
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and East Bay media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past three years.

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