Karen Ocamb

Marriage Equality Hero Gavin Newsom Sworn-In as California Lt. Governor

Filed By Karen Ocamb | January 13, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Jerry Brown, John A. Perez, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom


Applause interrupted openly gay Speaker of the Assembly John A. Perez during his remarks before former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was officially sworn in as California's Lt. Governor on Monday. In 2004, "his bold leadership ushered in a sea change in attitude towards marriage equality," Perez said.

The ceremony had its formal moments in the grand chamber - including the official swearing-in officiated by Newsom's father, Judge William A. Newsom, with his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom holding the Bible. But for the most part, the ceremony was casual, with Newsom, 43, waving at some in the audience and the gallery - a few hundred people, with all statewide elected officials there for support, including former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldenado, a Republican whom Newsom defeated last year. Gov. Jerry Brown was elsewhere dealing with his proposed budget aimed at erasing California's $26 billion deficit during the next 18 months. which he had introduced just hours earlier.

For those who followed Newsom's gubernatorial campaign and then his sudden withdrawal (remember the awkward interview with former openly gay CBS 5 reporter Hank Plante in Feb. 2010?) Watching Newsom (via webcast) deliver his off-the-cuff acceptance remarks was deja vu all over again - only this time he kept his jacket on. He repeatedly promised to be short, joking about his infamous long-windedness - but then he went on and on, ideas pouring out of him as he did in those town hall meetings. He was engaging, challenging, erudite, hopeful and at times promising more than his job might permit. And then, he'd catch himself: "I know my role as lieutenant governor is limited," Newsom said. "I understand the constitutional restrictions. I do. But I hope I can add some value in the debate and be a conduit. And hopefully I can encourage everyone around here to take some risks."

If Brown uses Newsom as President Obama uses Vice President Biden - as someone with whom to discuss strategies and solutions even as they might disagree over some issues, California may have a good working team. After the ceremony, Newsom told AP "that he has concerns about Brown's proposal to eliminate funding for enterprise zones and local redevelopment agencies, which he credited for helping to build up Mission Bay and Treasure Island in San Francisco. He said enterprise zones helped the city lure Virgin America airline.

"I honor his willingness to put it up but I also honor his willingness to keep an open mind," Newsom said.

In his official job, Newsom assumes the governorship when Brown leaves the state or in the event of his death. Newsom didn't mention marriage equality or Prop 8 - he didn't have to - his national fame is so attached to marriage equality some Democratic politicians were afraid to have their photo taken with him.

Rather, Newsom focused on the economy. He will head the Commission for Economic Development and sit on the University of California Board of Regents, as well as sit on other boards and commissions. But while he might joke about staying "relevant" in the job, he clearly looks forward to offering his ideas in those commissions and working with Brown and the legislature to rebuild the state.

"At a time of great challenge, we must transform our crises into opportunities, replace old arguments with bold solutions, and reject timidity and incrementalism for risk-taking and innovation," Newsom said.

With that kind of personal incentive, it is hard to imagine Newsom not finding a way to push mightily for new jobs and new environmental solutions - during his gubernatorial campaign, he became well-known for stressing the significance of gree jobs and innovations such as with nano-technology. Additionally, as mayor of San Francisco, he launched programs to bring universal healthcare to all uninsured residents and give all children a boost to getting a college education.

Before he left office, Newsom secured the led 2013 America's Cup, an internationally respected sporting event which is expected to generate roughly 8,000 jobs and $1.2 billion for the local and state economy.

"I come here with a lot of ideas," Newsom said, and a promise to ask better questions to find more innovative solutions.

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Well, he can help with that budget since he already has experience putting poor people out into the street.

It seems the big challenge this year for California, after the budget has been cut, will be enforcing the rules as people figure out that they've just lost their health care and food so that businesses in economic zones can keep their tax cuts (Newsom always looks out for his real base). He and Jerry Brown have their work cut out for them.

Strange how people who don't live here purport to know so much about San Francisco. Well, at least we didn't get another regurgitation of the myth about how Newsom, although now wealthy through successful businesses, was "born with a silver spoon in his mouth" [but the Green party candidate for mayor whom the lunatic fringe have never forgiven him for beating was—and lied about it].

The "Enemy of the Poor" is just as bum a rap. In fact, as a San Francisco Chron columnist [you know, someone who lives here] recently wrote—AMID several criticisms of Newsom:

"His administration was vilified as 'Nazi' for Care Not Cash, which cut welfare checks in favor of housing. It is now a national model for housing the homeless [over 12,000 so far]. A story in The Chronicle about homeless campers in Golden Gate Park produced an immediate plan to get them out and into housing. He spearheaded the Community Justice Center, which tries to provide services for low-level offenses instead of jail time, [and championed Tom Amminano's] groundbreaking universal health care program, Healthy San Francisco," the first of any city in the nation, guaranteeing health care to city residents regardless of pre-existing medical conditions, immigration status, or employment status.

Another wrote: "Few question Newsom's environmental record. He's been hailed as the country's greenest mayor....Newsom's aggressive mandatory composting and recycling law saw the city hit a 77 percent rate of diverting waste from landfill this year, best in the nation. ...

Muni buses run on alternative fuels, solar panels have sprouted on rooftops, and the city is a leader in converting taxi and city fleets to hybrid and electric vehicles. San Francisco has also independently complied with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, but Newsom admits it will be a fight to reach his stated goal of reducing greenhouse gases 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

His mantra for years has been that environmental protections don't have to harm the economy, and Newsom touts his administration's landmark deal with the U.S. Navy to develop Treasure Island into a model of sustainable development and efforts to clean up and redevelop the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Those two projects alone would add 18,500 new homes to the city, generate thousands of jobs and create new neighborhoods." And in a trend addicted city, Newsom banned hundreds of thousands of city tax dollars being spent every year to purchase city employees bottled water.

Is he without flaws? Who is? Did he make some huge mistakes, mostly in his personal life? Absolutely. But I will always respect him for his first major act in office—fast forwarding the marriage equality movement by ordering the city clerk to issue same gender marriage licenses [and eventually suing the state to attempt to overturn the ban under Prop 22, and joining the current "Perry v. Schwarzeneggerlawsuit" against Prop 8], both for what it achieved and for what it cost him personally. From over a thousand death threats to public condemnations by his mentor Dianne Feinstein and even gay "leader" Barney Frank to US Senate candidate Obama refusing to be photographed with him at an Obama for Senate fundraiser BEING HOSTED BY NEWSOM to being kept by the DNC far from the podium and TV cameras at both the 2004 AND 2008 Conventions. And it's reasonable to believe that his equation in the rest of the state with "gay marriage" killed his short campaign for the nomination for governor.

He's no more perfect than any of us, but the LGBT Community has no better nongay friend, and I think the 18,000 gay couples that are legally married thanks to him would agree he deserves better than misinformed cheap shots.

Robin Tyler | January 15, 2011 1:19 PM

I couldn't agree with you more. I have great
respect for Gavin, and am happy that won.
However, Gavin is not responsible for the 18,000
marriages. The case we started in Los Angeles, prior to San Francisco joining in, is the one
that ultimately went to the California Supreme Court. Here is what happened.
On Feb. 12, 2004, Diane Olson and I (Robin Tyler) and Rev. Troy Perry and his husband (married in Canada) Philip DeBleck, went to the Beverly Hills
Courthouse (as we had been doing since 2001) and
tried to apply for a marriage license at 9 AM.
When we were refused, we and our attorney, Gloria
Allred, announced a lawsuit at 9 AM. At noon, in San Francisco, Gavin married our friends Del Martin and Phyllis. The right wing sued the
City of San Franisco as the marriages up there
proceeded. On Feb. 24, our lawsuit (the first in
California in this case) was filed. When
the Supreme Court struck down the marriages in
San Francisco in March, 3 legal groups, including the City of San Francisco, ACLU and NGLTF filed
for same sex marriage rights. Eventually, both
the LA Case and the SF case were consolidated. The non stop press releases and rhetoric that came
out of San Francisco (not the activists, as we are all friends) but the attorneys and the
city, made it look like they had started the case.
But it was started here in LA, by a non-gay lawfirm. Because we started the case, the county of Los Angeles allowed Diane
and I to be the only ones married the day same-sex marriage became legal, and we were married at
5:01 in front of the Beverly Hills Courthouse,
the same time that Del and Phyllis got married in SF. So, please, don't claim that Gavin was
responsible for the 18,000 marriages. The lawsuit