First, an apology: Gavin Newsom is not an idiot, and I am sorry to have called him one. When I complained about his videotaped comment that gay marriage would happen in California “whether you like it or not,” which the Yes on Proposition 8 forces used in ads to convince people not to support marriage equality, my reaction was to become incensed.
I wasn’t alone: Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic offers views from a reader:
My husband and I were watching TV when the Yes on Prop 8 commercial aired, with Gavin Newsom arrogantly proclaiming, “its gonna happen, whether you like it or not.” My husband hates Newsom. And he’s not wild about the idea of same-sex marriage. I also don’t like Newsom, but I’m pro same-sex marriage. Thankfully, we were watching the commercial at the same time.
The Newsom ad was a cringe-inducing moment for both of us. I knew it had the potential to put my husband, and others like him, over the edge, and my gut began to churn.
…When his anger subsided, I told him I was concerned that his disdain for Newsom would influence his vote, and I proceeded to list all of the reasons why Prop-8 was wrong and why it should be defeated. He didn’t say much, so I didn’t push the subject harder. Two days later the subject came up again and my husband said he knew I was right and he was going to vote No on Prop-8.
I’m writing to tell you this, because I believe that if my husband had not had the opportunity to talk through the issue with me, he would have cast a Yes vote in November. And I hope I can encourage other families to talk openly about the issue, because it could very well make a difference.
Indeed it could. But in fairness to Mayor Newsom, I received a call from a member of his staff today, who directed me to the video of the entire speech, one given May 15, 2008, right after the California Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Yes, the mayor made that cringe-inducing statement, but the context of the speech as a whole was quite different. Newsom underscored the need to work hard for justice because the fight was not over.
Was Newsom over-the-top with that soundbite? Yes. But remember, that day was one of celebration. Sometimes over-the-top happens, and again, the snippet was not representative of his entire speech. Given how demonstrably hard he has worked for years on this issue, and how hard he has been working before and after that unfortunate right-wing ad appeared, he’s earned a pass in my opinion.
Let’s not be distracted by the chicanery of the pro-hate side. Instead we must focus on the battle: Prop 8 must lose so justice and equality can win. No on Proposition 8 is the only decent, humane, compassionate choice. Lives depend on this measure’s defeat. Please, if you know Californians even thinking about voting yes, talk to them. Calmly enumerate the reasons why Prop 8 is un-American and unfair. And remind them of the dangers of relying on soundbites in ads for discovering truth.
By the by, my decision to boycott California if Prop 8 wins stands. San Francisco, however, may get a pass.