Can we rediscover radical action on this marriage equality anniversary?

Allowing the marriage of Del Martin and Phyliss Lyon 10 years ago was a bold and radical act. Remember those?
SFBG file photo

San Francisco’s political establishment will rightly celebrate itself this afternoon [Wed/12] at 5pm with a ceremony in City Hall marking the 10th anniversary of the unilateral decision to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, kicking off what became known as the Winter of Love.

It was the greatest thing that then-Mayor Gavin Newsom did during his seven-year tenure in Room 200, a bold and principled stand for civil rights that started California down the long and arduous road toward marriage equality.

“It was a proud moment for San Francisco, and some of my most meaningful moments in public service,” Mayor Ed Lee wrote in a guest editorial in today’s Examiner, referring to the minor role that he played as a city administrator at the time.

But that kind of political leadership and willingness to take radical action in the face of injustice — or even the recognition during this kumbaya moment that what Newsom did far exceeded his actual legal authority — seems to be absent in today’s City Hall, which overvalues civility and compromise.

Real estate speculators and greedy capitalists are rapidly changing the face of San Francisco, killing its diversity and some would say its very soul, and the Mayor’s Office hasn’t done anything of any real substance to address the problem. While Mayor Lee gives lip service to protecting the city “for the 100 percent,” it is his supporters from the 1 percent that are acting with impunity to evict our workers, artists, and valued cultural institutions.

So as San Francisco officials pat themselves on the back this afternoon at City Hall, celebrating what was indeed an important and historic effort, our hope is that they will remember the radical spirit of that fateful moment and apply it to the pressing problems that have ignited such populist outrage today.   


Marriage was radical action? No radical action to speak of has been taken in San Francisco politics for more than two decades, it has all been liberal reformism at best.

Marriage is not radical, liberal is not radical. Words have meanings and are not fungible in journalistic prose where precision is essential.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 2:50 pm

social issues like abortion, civil rights and gay marriage. By not protesting too much, they have successful distracted liberals from the really big prize - the economic game.

So while liberals crow about all their gains around social justice (yuk) the right just smiles smugly. They really didn't give a crap about that either way, except for some religious nuts.

The point was to turn this nation to the right, economically, without the left even noticing, let alone fighting.

So after the last 50 years we are more liberal on social policy and more conservative on economic policy.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

No, marriage might not be radical, but the decision to suddenly start issuing marriage licenses in violation of state law was. Credit where credit is due. 

Posted by steven on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

Steven, words have meaning.

To what root did Newsom's civil disobedience, refusal to follow an unjust law, cut? The fact that he disobeyed the law is not in and of itself radical.

Direct action is only radical when it cuts to the root of a problem. The root of homophobia is not codified in the law, it is a social function closely tied to the roots of sexism.

As far as to how Newsom treated women, Newsom, as it were, allowed his subsequent deeds to speak louder than his words.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 1:13 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

I never made that statement.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 4:25 pm

"The root of homophobia is not codified in the law, it is a social function closely tied to the roots of sexism."

Which is horsecrap.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

Sexism and homophobia share roots in patriarchy, as the electromagnetic and weak nuclear interactions in physics arise from the same root.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 5:04 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 5:25 pm

I never made that statement and it cannot be derived from my statements.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 6:26 pm

It was garbage which is why you are now trying to deny them. But the record shows you lie.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 6:39 pm

"The root of homophobia is not codified in the law, it is a social function closely tied to the roots of sexism."

Deny and disown all you like, but your own words damn you.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

You should stick to cut and paste.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

If you'd just let it go, your lie would have been forgotten by now.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

The stupidest debates on this website are legion, with its most prolific posters almost always in the middle. If a poster doesn't have enough self-awareness to consider how stupid or silly or petty or defensive they sometimes sound, why would anyone consider anything they say worthwhile? The recent h thread was a great example. Social cluelessness and egotism are a malodorous combination.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 8:24 pm

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 14, 2014 @ 5:44 am

Hyperbole much Steven?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

clearly SF has no soul. If it really had soul, everyone would be a slacker writer, renter and activist who struggles and strives against a cruel world.

In other words, a loser.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

as high as possible. Which makes sense in a way seeing as how the fact that the marginal gains progressives have made over the past 50 years have nearly completed vanished - so why not try some more of that old time religion and see if it works? Clearly - nothing else is working.

Strangely though, in all this self-examination one thing is missing: the Guardian's role in the collapse of the progressive movement. From a movement that once hailed gay rights and equal opportunity to one that today backs a wife-beating sheriff and demands tech workers get off the bus and into their cars - progressives are dead men (and wimmin) walking.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 4:50 pm

Not just a desperation of a cause that once burned brightly and not barely glows at all. But also desperation of this journal and it's staff who alternate between protesting too much and cowering in the corner waiting for their pink slips.

They epitaph will read "tried hard but failed".

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

Maybe you didn't notice, but the Guardian's issues have caught populist fire in this city, and they're being covered by journalists from all over the world, forcing even Mayor Lee to finally address them, even if it's mostly just lip service. I've never been one to cower, and I'm certainly not doing so now. It's you trolls who seem increasingly desperate and shrill in your attempts to proclaim our irrelevance, but I'm feeling pretty good these days about the role the Guardian is playing in this city's evolving political dynamics. Thanks for reading. 

Posted by steven on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

Just like the much bigger Occupy story that also fizzled out. SFBG could talk about nothing else for months until even you guys realized that it was going nowhere.

You're predicted ten of the last two major political shifts.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

We're playing the long game, my impatient followers. The remnants of Occupy are still out there, just like other progressive constituencies, and as late capitalism inevitably displays its failings, there will be opportunities for the people to assert their power. 

Posted by steven on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 5:49 pm

The revolution is just around the corner?

Gee, I haven't heard that since 1968. Can I borrow your time machine?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 6:04 pm

If you're counting on the remnants of the cluster fuck that was Occupy to be one of your core constituencies, you're in for a REAAAAALLLYYY long game.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

abandoned as soon as the weather turned a little cold and wet.

Such commitment.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 4:50 pm

There are dozens of active Occupy websites. On the few I've seen, It seems unclear if the groups have found consensus about how to define certain issues, or deciding what next actions might have the best impact. But if the right conditions present themselves, there's a decent network that could put thousands on the streets.

The mood of the country has been dramatically changed, partly due to Occupy. I wonder if Bill de Blasio gets elected in NYC if Occupy didn't happen. He's been in office a short while and is already challenging the more traditional liberal Governor Cuomo to enact populist tax increases and add more pre-K funding.

If the stock market or real estate drops by more than 15%, or job opportunities lag, more people will be anxious about their economic condition. Occupy, and other groups, will quickly materialize.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

People whined before and people whine now. People always whine or, rather, losers always whine.

Oh yeah, there are thousands of fifth columnists lying in wait for the call to revolution to be made. In your dreams.

Oh, but there's some websites? No shit.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

ultimately unsatisfying - he's been predicting the end of capitalism since he started writing here. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 7:34 pm

revolution is just around the corner, and whining that the city is being destroyed and that he is fighting to save it's soul.

So which is it?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 7:50 am

Yes, the Guardian is playing a key role.

Why, just the other day, Steven put the call out for people to occupy AirBNB rental apartments. That is the type of leadership that has the 1% shaking in fear.

Deal with it, Trolls.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

You really are living in a fantasy world where you're some kind of romantic communist revolutionary, aren't you? The 1% aren't worried a bit, El Che. In fact, they don't even factor in to this at all. Steven's troll blog posts may have scared some nickel n' dime property owners who are barely keeping their heads above water as it is, but they needn't be overly concerned. The laws being proposed are unconstitutional and will eventually be struck down (if they managed get passed at all). Steven even admitted as much when discussing his ludicrous Airbnb squat idea - it's nothing more than a petty time-waster.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

Think that poster was making fun of the thought processes (or lack thereof) behind Steven's great idea of how a mass AirBnB squat would be the first action in the great proletariat uprising against the evil landowners/corporations/bourgeoisie.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:22 pm

Ways to expropriate other people's property.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

Victory for them is making it slightly more expensive for the winners to win.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 7:00 pm

What is the "long game" to you? America will look like Sweden in a generation, that isn't victory?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

economically not only is the US moving further away from the Swedish model, but so is Sweden.

You won the social debate but lost the economic debate.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 7:43 pm

When the ladies get busy, it sounds like 20 people eating soup.

Posted by Chromefields on Feb. 14, 2014 @ 10:00 am

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