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 marriage.

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 marriage.

“[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.