Archive for the ‘Proposition 8’ Category

Why Are These Men Smiling?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

gavin and tony (lat)When Calbuzz came across this photo of San Francisco Mayor Gavin speaking Sunday at the LA Gay Pride festival, with LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa standing by wearing a silly smile, we swiftly kicked into full Kremlinology Mode — determined to divine the intrigue and machinations that led a beaming Prince Gavin to the podium of a political event in the middle of Tony V’s turf.

After all, the Boy Prince is a candidate for governor and, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Antonio Alcalde, is said by associates to still be considering a run for the big office. So what’s the scoop behind this unusual joint appearance, we mused. Who pushed whom forward, aside, around the bend? Who squeezed, squished and squashed his way into the shot? How did Mr. San Francisco come to hold that microphone on a warm West Hollywood afternoon? Inquiring Machiavellians wanted to know.

Calbuzz set out to do what in the trade is known as “actual reporting,” and rang up Rodney Scott, president of Christopher Street West, who organized the Gay Pride weekend, and urged him to dish, dish. Alas, he not only had no dirt, he also insisted that a) Gavin had been invited a year ago; b) no one tried to muscle anyone; c) the three mayors (West Hollywood’s Abbe Land was there too, as hometown host) cooperated brilliantly and; d) the whole deal was pure kumbaya.

“They put their competitive thing aside and showed up for the LGBT community,” Scott said. “They were amazing.”

Aw, man…

OK, so no scoop, but still the joint appearance left us wondering who benefitted most from the event? Does Newsom, the guy who unilaterally legalized gay marriage in his city even before it was legal and then illegal again, have the gay vote locked up? Or does the Hometown Hizzoner get dibs because of his early adaptor support of the movement?

That’s easy: Score one for Gavin for copping a media freebie in the LA market where he made nice before some 400,000 attendees of the Gay Pride weekend. Sure, Tony V looks gracious –- and gays know he’s an ally — but compared to Gavin, on this issue, he’s an echo, not a choice.

As for the broader question of where the gay vote goes in the Democratic primary, there are two schools of thought:

Camp A says there is no monolithic gay vote. Older gays and lesbians may well gravitate toward Attorney General Jerry Brown, who also has a long history of supporting gay and lesbian causes, and is, like Villaraigosa, a longtime supporter of gay marriage (not to mention having the AG’s office oppose Prop 8 in court).  Everyone’s going to have to compete for gay votes in the Democratic primary.

Camp B agrees with all of the arguments from Camp A, but adds this: Newsom still gets two-thirds of the gay vote just because he’s an international rock star on this issue.

Calbuzz thinks the jury’s out. Gay Democratic voters tend to include a disproportionate share of upper-income, college-educated citizens, many of who are strategic voters. In other words, beyond following political passions in June, they make electability decisions about which candidate to support against a Republican in November.

If Newsom’s primary campaign is in good shape and he looks strong against a Republican, he’ll grab a huge portion of gay voters. But if his bid isn’t all that solid or if he looks weak against a Republican (some obsessively mull his Mr. Know-It-All “whether they like it or not” outburst — we are not among them), then gay voters will be happy to give other Democrats a fair hearing.

In the meantime, Calbuzz, as all who know us understand, takes a backseat to no one in our fervent desire for civility, comity and courtesy in politics; so we’re just pleased as punch to see Tony and Gavey playing so nicely. Harrumph.

— By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine

What Gay Marriage Ruling Means for Gov’s Race

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Further, We Look at Sotomayor and The GOP React

Attorney General Jerry Brown summed up most succinctly the impact of the California Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage in California.jerry_brown

“The courts have basically put the ball in the political arena and that’s where it’s going to be decided,” said the AG, whose office had fecklessly argued the case against the voter-approved constitutional amendment before the Supremes.

Swift reaction to the decision, both from the pro-gay marriage forces and from the potential candidates for governor, underscored Brown’s point: the contentious issue –- which pretty much splits California voters down the middle — will be an indelible part of the 2010 election season.

Supporters of gay marriage already announced plans for a 2010 initiative to reinstate the constitutional right of same sex couples to wed (although cooler political heads suggest that 2012 would be strategically smarter). Click Click

With Democrats mostly favoring same sex marriage and Republicans generally opposed, a ballot fight amid the governor’s race would energize activists on both sides, boosting turn-out and locking contenders into positions guaranteed to alienate half the electorate.

Although not a surprise, Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision sprang open the gate on Prop. 8 as a major issue shaping the governor’s race as a red state-blue state contest inside California.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom immediately declared “it’s our job to make sure history moves faster towards equality here in California,” taking to the mighty Huffington Post to blog a call to arms for a gay initiative.

While Prince Gavin clearly views himself as a man of history, for triggering the gay marriage debate by authorizing same sex weddings in San Francisco in 2004, he didn’t mention how he personally galvanized the Yes-on-8 campaign with his smug and smart-ass “whether you like it or not” comment when gay marriage was briefly legal last spring.

Brown, running hard against Newsom to capture the gay marriage primary, also promised to support a measure to ensure that same sex couples have the right to wed.

Ever the consummate political creature, he said he isn’t sure whether the strongest play would be in 2010 or 2012, when presidential year turnout for Obama’s re-election might better boost chances of passage.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pronounced himself “confident that this state will have a change of heart, will reiterate its broader commitment to justice for every citizen, and will overturn this unjust ban at the ballot box.”

Stirring rhetoric, Tony V, but are you talking as a mayor or a candidate for governor?

On the Republican side, pro-gay rights law school Prof Tom Campbell said he personally believes “gay Californians should have the same rights as straight Californians, including the right to marry.” But, he quickly added, acknowledging the obvious, “The people of California have the right to amend their own Constitution. Whether or not we agree with the policy behind any particular provision, there should be no doubt that ultimate sovereignty rests with the people.”

Talk about your profiles in courage.

Insurance commissioner Steve Poizner – who took NO public position on Proposition 8 that Calbuzz could find before last November’s vote (this SacBee piece seems to confirm that) – suddenly found the cojones to oppose gay marriage.

“The California Supreme Court took the appropriate action today in upholding the will of the people by affirming Proposition 8. The people of California have spoken. They voted decisively that marriage should remain between a man and a woman,” Poizner declared. “That is also my personal view.”

Who knew?

Surely not former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who opposed gay marriage by supporting Proposition 8 and who suggested – inexplicably — that Tuesday’s decision ranked right up there with Brown vs. Board of Education or Marbury vs. Madison.

“I believe the California State Supreme Court made the right decision. Last November, the people of California passed Proposition 8, and today the Court upheld their decision,” she said. “This simple yet powerful fact is the foundation of our democracy. Regardless of one’s position on the measure, this ruling gives people confidence that their vote matters and can make a difference.”

Mush, eMeg, mush!

Obama’s Pick for Supreme Court Confronts Reeps With a Problem

As if the state needs more political polarization, President Obama’s nomination of a Latina judge to the U.S. Supreme Court reminds us that Californians know the political impacts when Republicans, rightly or wrongly, are perceived as lining up against the interests of Latinos.

Former Gov. Pete Wilson may only have been opposed to illegal immigration in 1994. But with his ominous and iconic “They Keep Coming” ad, which showed Mexicans sneaking across the border, added to his aggressive push to restrict the rights of immigrants in Proposition 187, he became known on the streets of Mexico City and East LA alike as “hijo de puta.”

To say that the GOP ever since has been poisoned in California is gross understatement: The question now is whether Republicans – by vocally opposing Judge Sonia Sotomayor – want to do for themselves in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Florida, what Wilson et. al. did for their party in California?

Initial responses appear to answer in the affirmative. Here’s the text of an ad produced by the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, referring to an affirmative action case out of New Haven:

“Sonia Sotomayor, who didn’t give a fair shake in court to firefighters deprived promotions on account of race. Every American understands the sacrifices firefighters make. But on Sotomayor’s court, the content of your character is not as important as the color of your skin.”

This approach, according to some current and former Republican strategists, is totallyfriggininsane.

Republican strategists say the GOP needs 35-40% of Latino voters to be competitive nationally. And here’s what Sotomayor looks like to many of those voters, for whom her biography is a source of pride.

Child of parents born in Puerto Rico… Grew up speaking mostly Spanish… Raised in a public housing project in the South Bronx in the shadow of Yankee Stadium… Father died when she was 9… Graduated summa cum laude in 1976 from Princeton after winning a scholarship to the school… Earned her law degree from Yale in 1979, where she edited the Law Review… New York District Attorney’s office in the early 1980s…Currently serves on the Second Circuit in New York and was appointed to that position by Bill Clinton. BUT she was appointed to her first federal court appointment by President George H.W. Bush (link to NBC’s First Read)

Calbuzz asked USC’s Dan Schnur, one of the smartest guys in the room – and a former Pete Wilson communications director – how the Republicans can oppose Sotomayor without further alienating Hispanics and falling into the Prop. 187 trap:

“They can’t,” said Schnur, now director of the Jesse M, Unruh Institute of Politics. “There’s no way to oppose Sotomayor on the merits without it being portrayed to Hispanic-American voters that it’s a matter of race,” he said.

Matt Dowd, another very smart Republican with experience in California (having helped elect Gov. Arnold) told the New York Times the Republicans can’t even be seen as threatening Judge Sotomayor.

“Because you’ll have a bunch of white males who lead the Judiciary Committee leading the charge, taking on a Hispanic women and everybody from this day forward is going to know she’s totally qualified,” he said. “It’s a bad visual. It’s bad symbolism for the Republicans.”

Best Bets for Tuesday’s Prop. 8 News

Monday, May 25th, 2009

The California Supreme Court has announced it will issue its landmark decision in the Proposition 8 gay marriage case at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The court’s web site says the opinion will be immediately available here.

For the view on the breaking news from the anti-Prop. 8/pro-gay marriage side, check out our friends at Calitics, React from the pro-Prop. 8/anti-gay marriage proponents will be here.

We Surf So You Don’t Have To, Memorial Day Edition

Monday, May 25th, 2009

memorialdayMemorial Day Mystery: Limbering up for some rigorous holiday chillin’, Calbuzz made a quick online check to find the origin of Memorial Day, figuring we’d just casually…drop it in…to the barbecue conversation; as with most things political, however, the answer came neither quickly nor clearly, as it turns out bragging rights are in dispute and break down along red state-blue state lines.

Newsweek reports that the holiday formerly known as Decoration Day was started by freed slaves in celebration of Union soldiers who died in prison camps, but a Purdue history professor in a new book traces it to Southern ladies honoring Confederate troops. The official, establishment version, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has it both ways, stating that Yankees and Rebs alike got flowers on their graves at Decoration Day I in 1868. Maybe we won’t mention it after all.

Stroke, stroke, bail, bail: Although both Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have rejected the notion of the feds providing California with a bail-out – apparently the government just can’t afford to divert taxpayer money away from the banks – the issue is not likely to disappear soon, given the magnitude of the Capitol’s fiscal mess.

With that in mind, both the Washington Post and the New York Times weighed in on Sunday with editorials about the wisdom of Washington coming to the rescue of Sacramento.

While unkind to California, the Post edit at least had the virtue of being clear what it was arguing (one word synopsis – NO!!!) while the Times propounded a total Miss Scarlett With The Rope In The Study head-scratcher that verged on the incoherent.

As far we can tell, the Times’ position is as follows: a) Obama’s right not to offer a bailout; b) failing to give California money could be an economic “fiasco”; c) California must fix its problem with spending cuts or tax increases, or both; d) spending cuts and tax increases are both bad during a recession; e) when Obama intervenes eventually, he should do so in a way that forces California not to adopt spending cuts or tax increases but; f) still causes a lot of pain so other states don’t line up for bailouts.

One free Calbuzzer button to the reader who best summarizes the Times editorial in 15 words or less. Bring back Gail Collins!

Pelosi and the P-word: Weirdest political yarn of recent days is Politico’s report on a new Republican National Committee ad that compares Speaker Nancy Pelosi to James Bond nemesis Pussy Galore:

“She’s the 69-year-old speaker of the House of Representatives, second in the line of succession and the most powerful woman in U.S. history. But when you see Nancy Pelosi, the Republican National Committee wants you to think “Pussy Galore.” At least that’s the takeaway from a video released by the committee this week – a video that puts Pelosi side-by-side with the aforementioned villainess from the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger.”

The full story, and a link to the ad, are here.

What’s up next: While Sacramento’s abattoir act advances this week, there are a couple other big political stories to watch for. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to issue its long-awaited ruling about the constitutionality of Proposition 8 on Tuesday, and with Republicans already threatening a filibuster, Obama allies say he’s likely to name his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court this week as well.

Uberhead: Party Hearty, Donkeys!

Saturday, April 25th, 2009


Gets applause when he notes that back in the ’70s, California spent 3% of its general fund on prisons and 17% on schools but today it’s even . . .says CA has to invest in kids . . .

More Jerry: Extols his own record on clean energy . . . says they made fun of him as Moonbeam but 30 years later this is the national paradigm . . . We stand on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before . . . (Does this mean Jerry’s standing on his own shoulders? How’s that work? A yoga thing?) . . . He has no text or talking points, so he makes it up as he goes along . . .

Jerry Brown being introduced . . . Bruce Springsteen’s “We All Have a Dream” . . . difficult at conventions, he says, to speak the “truth to power” . . . not engaged in the campaign process yet . . . decries that White House authorized torture . . . Thank God our president has brought out into the full light of day the horror of torture under George Bush . . . talks about what he’s done as attorney general . . . OMG he’s leading a teach-in on the collapse of the banking system . . . casting himself as the populist (as opposed to the latte-sipping Newsom) . . . tough on white-collar criminals who exploit blue-collar workers in the underground economy . . .

Don’t know why, but the speaking order has been shuffled and Jerry Brown has yet to make it to the podium. Boxer delays her press avail so’s not to step on Jerry . . .

More Boxer: To the surprise of no one, she formally announces she’s running for re-election next year. Take that, Carly Fiorina . . . As a postscript, Babs announces a new line of Boxer merchandise, including bibs for babies and scarves for dogs (Barkers for Boxer) . . .The speech is better than Dianne Feinstein’s (who must be helping Tony V solve the LA budget troubles) . . .

Boxer demonstration to the tune of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” . . . lots of bass beat . . . Boxer thanks incoming CDP Chairman John Burton for teaching her to be polite, diplomatic and reserved . . . Biggest applause so far in praising Barack Obama: “Our pro-choice president has reversed the international gag rule that stopped family planning dollars from going overseas.” . . .

No media avail. Says Newsom Guru Garry South: “Our speech speaks for itself.” . . .

Besides his shots at Brown, Newsom also directly took on his biggest leftover political liability: the “whether they like it or not” gay marriage clip used so effectively by supporters of Prop. 8 last fall: He said he enjoyed being introduced by outgoing party chair Art Torres “a whole lot more than the introduction I got in a few of those TV ads last fall. Well, whether they like it or not – my name’s Gavin Newsom, and I’m here to get things started.”

More Newsom: So far, his speech is better than LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s . . . (Here’s the opening shot at Jerry Brown) Will we offer the voters of California a stroll down memory lane, or a sprint into the future? . . . Will we choose the past — or will be embrace the future? . . . We’re not a state of memories, we’re a state of dreams. . . . We are not content to relive history. We are going to keep making it. . . .

Flack Peter Ragone hands out an actual speech text for SF Mayor Gavin Newsom . . . big cheers with Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” playing . . . Newsom: This state is ready for a new direction . . . We need to stop talking about universal health care and start providing it in this state . . . the old ways of doing business just don’t cut it in this tough new world . . . Gives rosy description of health care and schools in San Francisco, but we’re wondering will it all hold up to scrutiny in the heat of the campaign . . .

Treasurer Bill Lockyer has taken the podium and turned the decibel level down considerably, using a buttery late-night FM voice to deliver a Top 10 list of movie remakes, spinning off various disasters that have struck the economy in the last year; nice premise but the execution is too clever by half. Best joke: mug shot of Bernie Madoff used in remake of Spielberg film: “Swindler’s List” . . .

Bob Mulholland, political director for the state party, drops by the skybox to ask: “In five years, what will be around – the Chronicle or Calbuzz?” Ace Chron writer Carla Marinucci blanches…

John Garamendi spontaneous floor demonstration to the tune of “We Are Family” gets tepid response . . . For some mysterious reason, Garamendi is yelling really, really loudly and apparently believes he’s speaking to the 1968 convention in Chicago. Modulate, man . . . something in his vision about “algae and waste products” and methane collectors . . . still yelling . . . quoting FDR now (twice) . . .

Chris Finnie, the Boulder Creek Dem activist who is challenging Lord John Burton for party chair, tells us people have come up to her seeking so many flyers she’s been almost wiped out of her cache . . .

Dr. Hackenflack’s crack political team is settled into the Calbuzz Sky Box at the California Democratic Party convention, not listening to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who is warm-up speaker for Gov Lite John Garamendi . . .