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San Francisco mayor: 'Defeating gay marriage is literally the Bush agenda'

June 17, 2008 |  4:00 pm

Gavin From his second-floor office inside San Francisco City Hall, Mayor Gavin Newsom heard the commotion every few minutes just below his window: yet another newly married same-sex couple laughing their way down the structure’s ornate stone front steps.

“All of them,” he said, “are cheers of joy.”

In 2004, Newsom kicked off the so-called “Winter of Love” when he oversaw the marriage of thousands of gay and lesbian couples at City Hall, only to see them overturned by the courts. Four years later, in light of the recent state Supreme Court ruling lifting the ban on same-sex unions, Newsom says he hopes the marriages this time will be recognized by the nation and the world.

But along with the joy has come the jeering: Those against same-sex unions have picketed outside City Hall. Newsom said he was particularly offended at one sign that referred to gays as “fags.”

“That is such a schoolyard slang term,” he said. “It’s understandable with a 6-year-old who knows no better, but to have an adult use that word in this day and age is unbelievable.”

He urged state voters not to be duped by what he called a conservative agenda put forth by President Bush.

“Defeating gay marriage is literally the Bush agenda -- being carried out by his surrogates in California,” Newsom said. “I don’t want to see Bush’s legacy carried out in our state. Voters are smarter than that in California."

For Newsom, Tuesday was an emotional as well as a political day. While performing the wedding of two women, one with advanced breast cancer, Newsom said he choked back so much emotion he could barely speak.

“These are the moments that put life into perspective,” said the mayor, who lost his own mother to the disease.

But Newsom said he didn’t have time to celebrate after officiating at one of the state’s first gay marriages on Monday night.

“I had to work on the budget,” he said. "Just my luck -- the hearings started this week. So I was multi-tasking. I call it a reality check.”

-- John M. Glionna

Photo: AP

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, left, poses for pictures with same-sex couple Ronald McCullough, center, and Charles Hogan, of Fremont, Calif., after they were married at City Hall in San Francisco.