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.