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Courage in Politics: JFK's Profiles in Courage and Mayor Gavin Newsom

Uploaded by masone4718 on Dec 05, 2006

The primary responsibility of any elected official is to operate in accordance with his or her constituency. They are thus obligated to do so, an obligation that at times forces the individual to act courageously, against outside pressures, to accomplish this task. When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decided to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples in 2004, he did so with tremendous courage, against warnings of committing political suicide, and has subsequently ignited a modern struggle for equal rights.
Gavin Newsom felt that it was his responsibility as an elected official to order city clerks to issue the marriage licenses. After attending a State of the Union address wherein President Bush praised the Defense of Marriage Act, Newsom felt offended (Heyman). Moreover, he “…thought [he] had an obligation…” to defend the rights of millions of Americans against what he viewed as an attempt by the President to deny these rights (Heyman). Irritated by President Bush’s pledge to preserve the sanctity of traditional marriage, Newsom studied the California constitution to ensure that his forthcoming actions would not be ruled unconstitutional. Newsom asserted that the equal-protection clause of the state constitution gave him reason to believe that Proposition 22 was discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional. Acting on this notion, Newsom finalized his decision to issue the licenses on Wednesday February 11, 2004 (Taylor).
By that Friday afternoon, in the midst of same-sex weddings, the opposition had begun. Lawyers were already in court trying to obtain an emergency decree to stop what they classified as “municipal anarchy” (Gordon). Other activists compared Newsom’s daring actions to legalizing heroin, prostitution, polygamy, and incest (Taylor). The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reaffirmed its support for an amendment that would ban same-sex marriages (Lattin). In addition to the copious array of objections to the same-sex marriages, Newsom himself was faced with discrimination. He received more than fourteen hundred death threats, several pastors forbade him to worship in their churches, and was continually booed while delivering public speeches. Additionally, he was not given the opportunity to address the delegates that attended the Convention in Boston, in which every other attendee was given that opportunity (Friend).
Gavin Newsom’s actions had immediate effects. Numerous counties in New Mexico, Oregon, and New Jersey began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples but were eventually...

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Uploaded by:   masone4718

Date:   12/05/2006

Category:   Politics

Length:   4 pages (807 words)

Views:   3088

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