June 2, 2016 at 2:25 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Newsom invokes same-sex marriage in 2004 to endorse Clinton
Gavin Newsom, gay news, Washington Blade

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has endorsed Hillary Clinton. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Days before the California presidential primary, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced his support for Hillary Clinton, citing her willingness to take a photograph with him in 2004 after he distributed marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite state law.

Newsom declared his support for Clinton in a Facebook post on Thursday, recalling his decision 12 years ago as mayor of San Francisco to distribute marriage licenses to same-sex couples before the California Supreme Court determined he had exceeded his authority at the time.

“In 2004, after I ordered the city clerk to give same-sex couples marriage licenses, I quickly became a pariah in the Democratic Party,” Newsom writes. “I was accused of endangering Sen. Kerry’s campaign for president, my speech at the national convention was cancelled, and most hurtful, major Democratic candidates and elected officials — some of whom were my friends — refused to be photographed with me or even be in the same room with me. I was being demonized by the left and the right. Only one major figure in the Dem party was willing to be photographed with me: Hillary Clinton.”

Newsom said in the same year he distributed marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco, Clinton participated with him at an event at Delancey Street in San Francisco.

“I’ll never forget that moment — that when I was being attacked for my position on same-sex marriage and what we did in San Francisco, she was willing to stand with me in public when no one else was,” Newsom said.

Clinton responded to Newsom directly on his Facebook page, saying she was proud to stand with him in 2004 and is more proud to have him stand with her now.

“It’s a funny thing about progress: The fight can feel hardest in the loneliest moments, but you’ll never be alone on the right side of history,” Clinton said. “We still have so much work to do, and so many more victories to win — from ending discrimination to eradicating transphobic violence to ensuring every young LGBT person can live out the bright future they deserve. I was proud to stand with you then, and I’m even prouder to have you with me now.”

After the California Supreme Court ordered Newsom to stop distributing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it determined in 2008 barring same-sex couples from marrying defied the California State Constitution. California voters overturned that decision by passing Proposition 8 that year at the ballot, but the U.S. Supreme Court restored marriage equality to California in 2013 as a result of federal litigation filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

In 2004, Clinton was opposed to same-sex marriage and continued to hold that position throughout her tenure as a U.S. senator and secretary of state, although she voted against a U.S. constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage nationwide. Clinton first declared her support for same-sex marriage in 2013 in a video produced by the Human Rights Campaign.

Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), came out in favor of same-sex marriage years earlier 2009 and in 1996 voted as a U.S. House member against the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. The Washington Blade has placed a call in with the Sanders campaign seeking comment on Newsom’s Clinton endorsement.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who ran against former President Bill Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992, declared his support this time around in the Democratic primary for Hillary Clinton earlier this week.

Polls generally have Clinton ahead in California ahead of the state’s primary on Tuesday, but many observers speculate Sanders could pull off a surprise upset. A Field poll published on Thursday found a narrow lead for Clinton with 45 percent of likely voters in the Democratic presidential race supporting her and 43 percent favoring Sanders.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • I think it is important to note that Sanders vote on DOMA wasn’t one in favor of gay rights. He said it was becasue he believed that this was a states rights issue. We know what happens and has happend when we leave these decisions to the states and I am glad that Senator Sanders changed his mind along the way. When talking about what Secretary Clinton did at State it is imporatant to remember how she changed the rules for gay couples and changed the rules to make it easier for Transgender people. Then she spoke out in Geneva in 2011 and made the first statement from the US to the world about LGBT rights which actually saved lives around the world. The LGBT community must accept that people evolved on our issues and thank them for evolving and now continue to push them all to fully support our civil and human rights.

  • Bernie Sanders was one of the nation’s first mayors to decree June 20th (in Burlington) as “Gay Pride Day” in the year 1985. President Ronald Reagan, comparatively wouldn’t speak the initials HIV/AIDS until one year later in 1986. Bernie Sanders supported Vermont as one of the first states in the union to add LGBTQ people to its hate crimes bill in 1990, which was nine years before the Clinton Administration made LGBTQ hate crime federal law after the death of Matthew Shepard. Bernie Sanders reprimanded a fellow Congressperson in 1995 when that person referred to LGBTQ veterans as “homos in the military”. And Sanders stood against Clinton’s discriminatory DADT against Gays in the military.

    In 1995 – even the Clintons were waging a war against LGBTQ as DOMA was signed into law only two months BEFORE CLinton was reelected in 1996 (AKA DOMA was a pandering to the right to get reelected, nothing more). Sanders has stood up for LGBTQ people clearly and boldly for decades regardless of the misinformation put online by the paid “trolls” of Clinton’s super PAC, which was reported in April of 2016 to have sank $1 million into online efforts to disseminate false information about both Clinton and Sanders to favor a Clinton victory. There is no way around it – Clinton is not as present in our long fight for equality as Sanders has been and continues to be.

    The first time Sanders went “on the record” for Gay Rights was in a written editorial in 1972, when he called for abolishing all laws against homosexuals (as well as calling for the allowance of legal abortion).
    Why is it important?

    Because in 1972 – the year Sanders wrote the editorial – homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder by “science” and in 1972 legal abortion was still prevented by law. It wouldn’t be until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association would remove “homosexuality” from its list of abnormalities, and it was 1973 when Roe v Wade made abortion legal to women in the United States.

    Both instances cited in Sanders editorial calling for the abolition of laws preventing freedom are examples of Bernie Sanders advocating for what was right – long before the rest of the nation’s people came to the same correct decision.

    • In 2015, Bernie Sanders ignored active discrimination against gays at Liberty University to go there and pander to bigots for votes.

      In 2016, Bernie Sanders skipped out on campaigning in New York in order to run to the Vatican and kiss the ring of the Pope.

      In 2016, Bernie Sanders endorsed three downballot candidates for the House and managed to shaft three openly gay challengers in those races.

      In 2016, Bernie Sanders demanded that the most senior openly gay leader in the Democratic Party be stripped of his convention role.

      In 2016, Bernie Sanders refused to meet with gay AIDS activists and then insulted them when he finally was pressured into meeting with them.

  • Too bad Gavin Newsome isn’t the Democratic candidate instead of what we have to settle for this election.

  • Are we looking at the Democratic VP Nominee?

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