September 20, 2007

San Diego mayor has change of heart, supports gay marriage

I'm proud of my former mayor.

With me this afternoon is my wife Rona. I'm here to announce -- I'm here this afternoon to announce that I will sign a resolution that the city council passed yesterday directing the city attorney to file a brief in support of gay marriage. My plan that has been reported publicly was to veto the resolution. So I feel like I owe all San Diegans right now an explanation for this change of heart.

During the campaign two years ago, I announced that I did not support gay marriage, and instead supported civil unions and domestic partnerships. I have personally wrestled with that position ever since.

My opinions on this issue have evolved significantly, as I think the opinions of millions of Americans from all walks of life have. In order to be consistent with the position that I took during the mayoral resolution, I intended to veto the council resolution. As late as yesterday afternoon, that was my position. The arrival of the resolution to sign or veto late last night...please excuse us...forced me to reflect and search my soul for the right thing to do.

I've decided to lead with my heart -- which is probably obvious at the moment --, to do what I think is right, and to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice. The right thing for me to do is to sign this resolution.

For three decades, I've worked to bring enlightenment, justice, and equality to all parts of our community. As I reflected on the choices I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy, or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else simply because of their sexual orientation. A decision to veto this resolution would have been inconsistent with the values I've embraced over the past thirty years.

I do believe that times have changed, and with changing time and new life experiences come different opinions. I think that's a natural [unclear] that's certainly true in my case. Two years ago, I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative. Those beliefs in my case have changed. The concept of separate but equal -- the concept of a separate but equal institution is not something I can support.

I acknowledge that not all members of our community will agree, or perhaps even understand my decision today. All I can offer them is, I'm trying to do what I believe is right.

I have close family members and friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff. I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones: for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back, someone with whom they grow old together, and share life's experiences. And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law.

In the end, I couldn't look anyone in the face and tell them that their relationship, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rona.