Tuesday, May 5, 2009
GAVIN NEWSOM SPEAKS AT EQUALITY FORUM EVENT
Over the last few months I volunteered for Equality Forum, promoting the National Equality Rally which took place in Philadelphia this past weekend. I called hundreds of LGBT friendly organizations along the east coast in an effort to spread the word about the importance to gather at this event to fight for equal civil liberties for all Americans.
The Mayor of San Francisco, also running for Governor of California, Gavin Newsom was in town to receive an award from Equality Forum for his accomplishments in fighting for same sex marriage. He was interviewed on Sunday at a free public lecture that John and I attended. We arrived early so I could greet the attendees and John could get us good seats. The auditorium was almost completely full with more than 200 people.
I had the opportunity to ask a question at the end of the discussion - but didn't try to get a picture taken with him like I did with Anderson Cooper.
I started my question by addressing him as, "Gavin." Later on at lunch John said I should have addressed him as Mayor Newsom...to which I responded, "He's not my Mayor anymore!" But he was right, I would never call Mayor Daley by his first name. I guess since Newsom is young and more approachable I felt comfortable calling him by his first name. Note to self - for all future conversations with elected officials, remember to use appropriate titles.
After boosting his ego and showing some love for what he has done for our community, I said, "I think members of the LGBT community have a lot of different agendas, and it's difficult to get everyone working together to accomplish goals, like approving same sex marriage at the federal level. We had a great leader in Harvey Milk. The black community has Rev. Jessie Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. Who is the current leader of the LGBT community?"
He responded with, "There are several leaders that come to mind, including the heads of organizations like Equality Forum and all of you attending this discussion today." He then talked about Barney Frank, the gay Congressman of Massachusetts, and what he has done for the community. A political BS answer with not one valid name he could think of for a leader.
Despite my annoyance of his answer to my question, it was interesting to hear his opinion on his fight for same sex marriage. He started this political battle in 2004 when he was a recently elected Mayor of San Francisco. He started a huge uproar by getting legislation passed to allow marriage in San Francisco and married a lesbian couple who had been together for more than 50 years. He said he was politically vilified for this move by MANY of his Democratic contemporaries and still receives an abundance of hate from people/religious groups from all around the country.
Newsom has a special charm to him, a swagger many politicians have and the canned responses you would expect from an elected official. But what is unique about him, from his record and this discussion, is that he stands by what he believes in even if it's a political nightmare for him.
He could have easily distanced himself from the same sex marriage issue in 2004 and would have been able to go about his political career saying one thing and doing another, like many of today's elected officials. But he truly believes in giving equal rights to ALL citizens and has done an amazing job for the LGBT community. And for that - you gotta love the guy! ALSO, he has brought to life great healthcare reform and award winning environmental campaigns.
I highly support Mayor Gavin Newsom for Governor of California and hope other politicians wake up and see they are currently on the wrong side of history on this issue. It's only a matter of time for same sex marriage getting passed at a federal level - I just want to work hard in getting it passed ASAP!