San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newson helped launch a pro-gay marriage campaign in San Francisco Saturday, reports local CBS affiliate KCBS. The campaign against California's Proposition 8 – the ballot initiative seeking to constitutionally ban gay marriage in California – is being spearheaded by a coalition of nearly sixty gay, civil rights, faith and labor groups called No on 8, Equality for All.

Gavin Newson is often credited with opening gay marriage in California.

In 2004, Newsom ordered city hall clerks to marry gay and lesbian couples against state law. Several thousand gay couples were married during the “winter of love,” but eventually the California Supreme Court ordered the city to stop and invalidated all the marriages.

The city, along with gay groups and individuals, sued the State of California. The court sided with Newsom, and in May struck down the 2000 law that banned gay marriage.

“If we succeed, we will not only change history in California, we will change the tone and tenor of this debate, not only across America, but the rest of the world,” Newsom said at the event.

Newsom, who is riding a political windfall for his gay marriage stance and has expressed interest in running for Governor, was recently asked if his deep involvement with gay rights would hold him back as a state-wide candidate.

“This [campaigning against Prop 8] is not going to help me politically; I'm not naïve to that. ... It's about my convictions; it's about my ability to sleep at night and reconcile the fact that we're running the 90 yard dash on gay and lesbian rights,” Newsom told Ray Suarez for the PBS program The Newshour Insider Forum. “And if you believe fundamentally that people should have rights that are of the same sex, but you're not willing to extend them equal rights, then what is it about that point of view that distinguishes it from your point of view about civil rights for people based on race or ethnicity? What is inherently more significant about someone and their rights that happens to be of a different race that should not be extended equally to someone who may have a different sexual orientation?”

Also attending the pro-gay event was Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, who told a cheering crowd: “We are who we are, and this country's got to get over it. People who chose to marry whom they chose are here. It's our right, and that is something that we will never retreat from.”

Meanwhile, Catholic bishops in California have officially endorsed Proposition 8, joining the Mormon church, whose leaders also support banning gay marriage in the Golden State.

On the net: The No on 8, Equality for All website is at