San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will
serve as political grand marshal at the 26th annual Long
Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Parade.
Newsom is often credited with opening
gay marriage in California.
In 2003, 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 of 2008 struck down the 2000 law that banned gay
Gay marriage opponents fought back,
placing a voter initiative that defined marriage as a heterosexual
union on the ballot – Proposition 8 – and winning. The state
Supreme Court is expected to hand down a ruling on the validity of
the measure before June.
Newsom's commitment to gay marriage and
the gay community has never wavered; he's emphatic about gay
“[I]f 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?” Newsom said in August
while attending the Democratic National Convention.
“It's an important year for us,”
said Carl Highshaw, administrative director for Long Beach Pride,
told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “Everything he did for
us by putting gay marriage on the national stage was very important.”
Also announced as parade grand marshals
were Robin Tyler and Dianne Olson, the first lesbian couple to bring
a legal challenge to California's gay marriage ban.
The parade kicks off at 10:30AM from
the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Temple Avenue on May 17.