Does Newsom Deserve Blame If Proposition 8 Passes?

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom has been a tireless crusader for gay rights. It was he who, way back in 2000 2004, began issuing marriage licenses in San Francisco.

Though those marriages were later annulled by the state, California’s Supreme Court this year ruled that gay folk should, in fact, have the right to marry, a decision that spurred the right to launch Proposition 8, which would reverse the Court’s ruling. Again, Newsom’s been campaigning against that measure and just this week shored up support against conservative “extremists.”

Obviously the right doesn’t like Newsom very much and have been using him as the poster child for gay-friendly politicians. This means, of course, that should Proposition 8 pass, Newsom’s ubiquitous image may take some of the blame.

Journo Chris Reed predicts that will be the case, but insists Newsom shouldn’t get skewered. The blame, he writes, belongs elsewhere:

…The recriminations will be intense if Prop. 8 succeeds. I think San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will be haunted forever by his braying, arrogant soundbite after the May state Supreme Court ruling declaring gay marriage legal in California: “The door’s wide-open now. It’s gonna happen, whether you like it or not!” It was off-the-charts smart for the pro-8 forces to replay the clip over and over in their ads.

For my money, though, any recriminations should focus on California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George. This state was gradually moving toward a gay-marriage consensus. But it just wasn’t there yet when George, in his own way, declared it’s gonna happen, whether you like it or not.

I found George’s legal reasoning to be sound and persuasive. But given his past moderation and unadventurousness, his decisive vote to impose gay marriage on California was deeply uncharacteristic. It may well have been principled. Yet given George’s history, it looks far more like posturing for the history books than anything else.

Well, it seems to us that if Proposition 8 passes, the voters deserve the blame, not any one person….