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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Gavin Newsom on Democrats and Civil Rights

Rolling Stone interviews San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has the following to say about civil rights:

[Democrats have] never run the 90-yard dash on equality -- ever. The history of this party is civil rights, women's rights, human rights, labor rights, gay and lesbian rights. And for us to hold up civil unions and say that separate is somehow now equal -- when just a-year-and-a-half we ago celebrated the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board -- is transparent to the people. They see through the Democrats.

That's why this issue was not seen by the Kerry campaign in 2004 in a positive light. Because people saw through John Kerry. They didn't believe that he was only supportive of civil unions. Because here he was, running as a Democrat on all those proud traditions where we never fell short on equality. And so -- even though his position was exactly the same as Dick Cheney's -- the American people questioned that. I don't think the American people believe us. And that's a big problem. [...]

Not every Democrat in Washington agrees with gay marriage. But I will make the case -- based on some strong evidence -- that an overwhelming majority do. But they just can't say it. And that is a limitation that is causing more damage than the issue. Because, again, it shows a weakness of character.

This is really one of the great final civil rights struggles, and again I say to my colleagues in the Democratic party: Why are you a Democrat if you can't stand on a fundamental construct that has always distinguished our party.
The beltway consultants who are scared to death of politicians leading are being challenged from San Francisco to Connecticut. Courage and leadership have replaced triangulation.

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