Supervisor’s historic childbirth spurs political debate

San Francisco’s storied political history is filled with emperors and assassinations, but a new landmark was set late Tuesday night when Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier became the first sitting elected official to give birth in the history of The City.

But in a city where it seems every lifestyle choice has a political dimension, Alioto-Pier is hoping this pregnancy delivers political change.

Alioto-Pier, who represents the Marina and Pacific Heights, had a girl weighing 7 pounds 11 ounces at 11:24 p.m at the California Pacific Medical Foundation. Both mother and daughter are in good health, and the family is selecting a name for their third child.

In a birth announcement distributed to the media Wednesday, Alioto-Pier used the pregnancy to highlight the fact that there are no provisions in state or local law to provide for maternity leave for elected officials. She has proposed a charter amendment that would allow elected officials or commissioners to participate and vote in meetings if they are unable to attend because of complications from childbirth. It will appear on the November ballot if approved by the Board of Supervisors.

“Women should never be in a position where they must choose between the health and safety of their unborn child or performance of the duties of their elected position,” Alioto-Pier said in a statement. “Woman will never break through the glass ceiling and achieve real equality if they cannot hold office and have a child at the same time.”

The first is a little bit surprising given San Francisco’s 250-year history. Alioto-Pier is one of three women currently on the Board of Supervisors. There have been 19 women on the Board of Supervisors since 1971, according to records maintained on the political Web site Usual Suspects. And in a bit of strange timing, Alioto-Pier gave birth just a half-hour before she took over as the acting mayor of San Francisco on Wednesday. Mayor Gavin Newsom is in Mexico this week on vacation.

Alioto-Pier is the first supervisor to give birth to a baby, but hardly the only one with children on the way. Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval has his second baby coming in June, and Bevan Dufty, a gay supervisor, is planning to have a baby with a longtime friend, Rebecca Goldfader, in October.

Goldfader described the relationship as “co-parenting.” Dufty and Goldfader hope to live next to each other, but not together, once the baby is born.

“We hope to find a duplex in his district where we can raise the child, if we can afford it,” Goldfader said.

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