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SFO Mayor Newsom criticizes Obama about Gay rights
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SFO Mayor Newsom criticizes Obama about Gay rights

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

San Francisco, California Mayor Gavin Newsom became the latest Democratic official to take a distinctly public jab at President Obama for inaction on Gay rights.

The 42-year-old California Democrat - who recently told New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd his political future was so fuzzy he could, in a couple of years, end up 'as the clerk of a wine store' - called Obama's slow movement on support for Gay marriage 'fundamentally inexcusable.'

"Oh, I can't get in trouble here," Newsom told Dowd. "I want him to succeed. But I am very upset by what he's not done in terms of rights of Gays and Lesbians. I understand it tactically in a campaign, but at this point I don't know."

Newsom says that there is some belief that Obama actually doesn't believe in same-sex marriage. He said it is fundamentally inexcusable for a member of the Democratic party to stand on the principle that separate is now equal, but only on the basis of sexual orientation. "We've always fought for the rights of minorities and against the whims of majorities," he said.

The criticism didn't end there. Newsom, who dropped plans to run for California governor in late October, told Dowd that the promise of the 2008 Obama election - the "organic movement" - no longer held true. He said that, in its void, Democrats have found themselves in a vulnerable position.

"There's a growing discontent and lack of enthusiasm that I worry about," said Newsom. "He should just stand on principle, put this behind him, and move on."

Among Newsom's ranks of politicians, LGBT advocates, and lawyers who want to push the Gay rights agenda, such criticisms seem appealing. Among areas of political stagnation that have plagued Obama's administration, LGBT issues stand out prominently.

Mayor Newsom isn't the only one who thinks so. David Boies, Al Gore's 2000 recount lawyer and a lead attorney on the challenge of California's Proposition 8, told Dowd that his hope going forward was that "my Democratic president will catch up on my conservative Republican co-counsel [Ted Olsen, George W. Bush's recount lawyer]."

There are few politicians, Republican and Democratic alike, who have a track record accomplished enough to criticize the president on LGBT issues as Newsom can. In 2004, Newsom gained national attention when he directed the San Francisco city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In 2004, the Supreme Court of California annulled the marriages that Newsom had authorized, as they conflicted with the state law at the time. Still, Newsom's unexpected move brought national attention to the issues of Gay marriage and Gay rights, solidifying political support for Newsom in San Francisco and in the Gay community. Even as California voters voted for a same-sex marriage ban and the California State Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, Newsom has continued to advocate for marriage equality in California and the nation.

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