San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom has accused President Bush of political showmanship and discrimination because of the Social Security Administration's decision to not accept any marriage licenses from San Francisco--gay or straight--until the same-sex marriage issue is resolved. Newsom addressed a huge crowd at his first town hall meeting on Saturday, 52 days after taking office and a little more than two weeks after he authorized city officials to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Such meetings typically draw only a few dozen people, but nearly 1,000 gathered for Saturday's town hall in the city's predominantly gay Castro district. Some in the crowd carried signs reading "Thank You, Mayor" and "Gavin, Our Hero."
The Social Security Administration announced Friday that it has told its offices nationwide not to accept marriage certificates from San Francisco as proof of identification for newlyweds looking to make name changes on Social Security cards. Newsom called the move "political and retaliatory." "The president is not only now discriminating against gay couples, he's discriminating against straight people," he said. Newsom also said his administration looks forward to arguing the constitutionality of same-sex marriage before the California supreme court. The high court on Friday declined a request by Attorney General Bill Lockyer to immediately shut down San Francisco's gay weddings. More than 3,400 such ceremonies have been performed since the city began issuing the licenses February 12. The justices told the city and a conservative group that opposes gay marriage to file new legal briefs by March 5 in response to the attorney general's petition. Earlier, lower-court judges also declined to immediately end the same-sex marriages. "Not only did two lower-court judges...determine there is no irreparable harm being done, now the supreme court said the same thing," Newsom said.