Opponents of ban on same-sex marriage open Castro office

The heated debate about same-sex marriage brought supporters of the nuptials together amid sweltering temperatures Saturday to establish a headquarters against a November ballot measure.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, fellow dignitaries and same-sex marriage supporters gathered in the Castro district to establish the offices to fight Proposition 8, a November ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to eliminate same-sex marriage.

If issues such as health care and education are more important than same-sex marriage rights, than let gay couples wed “so we can all move on together,” Newsom said during the rally in the old Tower Records building on Market Street.

Newsom has made it abundantly clear that allowing gay couples to marry is no small issue. The mayor, who has formed a committee to explore a run for the governorship in 2010, was thrust into the state and national spotlight four years ago when he defied state law and began issuing marriage licenses to throngs of same-sex couples. Those licenses were invalidated just months later.

A lawsuit was later filed, saying same-sex marriages are a right under the state constitution — a point the California Supreme Court ruled in June to be valid.

If Proposition 8 passes, it would overrule the Supreme Court decision.

On Saturday, Newsom expressed concern that the right to marry will be stripped again from gay couples in November, citing polls indicating the state’s voters are divided down the line on the issue.

“There is so much at stake, so much riding on this election,” Newsom said. “As far as I’m concerned, this is a dead heat.”

At the rally, the mayor was joined by a bevy of city officials and activists who have had a consistent presence in the fight for gay marriage, including City Attorney Dennis Herrera, openly gay Assemblymember Mark Leno and Equality California leader Geoff Kors.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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