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San Francisco mayor defends order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples

San Francisco mayor defends order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples

San Francisco's mayor has dismissed accusations that his support of same-sex marriage directly affected the presidential election by pushing swing states, including Ohio, to President Bush. "That train had already left the station," Mayor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday at an appearance at Harvard University. "This was going to be used as a wedge issue regardless of whether or not some crazy mayor was sworn in in San Francisco or not." Newsom, a Democrat, also criticized his party for not taking a bolder stance on gay marriage. "I can't stand my party right now. Is it political expediency? Is it accommodation that we're after? Or is it about standing up on principles and values?" Newsom triggered a political firestorm last year when he ordered the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. More than 4,000 couples married in San Francisco before the California supreme court voided the marriages, ruling that the mayor had overstepped his authority. Newsom also was critical of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who said San Francisco's decision to challenge state marriage law could damage efforts by gay rights advocates. Frank, who is gay, has been in favor of a more gradual change. But Newsom said politicians can't be afraid of going against popular opinion. "You can't wait for public opinion to move social justice forward," Newsom said, comparing the gay rights movement to women's suffrage and interracial marriage. Same-sex marriage is an inevitability, he said, citing the legality of gay marriage in Massachusetts and civil unions in Vermont. "Whether you like it or not, this door will never be shut again," he said. "Gay marriage is going to be legalized in the United States of America. It is a matter of time. Mark my words." After gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, he added, "the world didn't come to an end. We're talking about marriage, an institution of stability. Isn't that the ideal?" (AP)

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