While D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty Is Bolstering Support for Gays, Why Is SF Mayor Gavin Newsom Retreating?

At the same time San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is running to be California’s lieutenant governor, is moving away from the same-sex marriage debate that made him a national name, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is acknowledging he didn’t do enough on the issue and is saying he’ll do more for the gays.

For Newsom, it’s about his image as he seeks a higher office, he tells the Times.

Mr. Newsom acknowledged in an interview on Wednesday that he had made a choice to be less outspoken on same-sex marriage compared with past years. He said his new tone reflected how the debate had matured and was not a sign that he had changed his commitment to the issue. “This movement has nothing to do with me; I’m just a small part of it,” Mr. Newsom said. “This thing is at a completely different level now. What we needed to do in 2004 was to put a human face on it, and I think we achieved that goal. Now let’s take the politics and the politicians out of it.”

[…] Even as Mr. Newsom rode the marriage issue to national prominence — defying Democratic Party leaders like Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Senator Dianne Feinstein, who argued that pushing for same-sex marriage legalization was “too much, too fast, too soon” — he got a taste of the dangers inherent in playing a lead role on such a volatile issue. In 2004, after Mr. Newsom began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some Democratic Party elders blamed him for riling the conservative base and contributing to the failure of Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

For Fenty, meanwhile, says he’s going to do the exact opposite and get more involving in publicly backing LGBT equality. In an interview with the Washington Blade:

Washington Blade: What do you see as some of your main accomplishments in addressing issues of concern to the LGBT community?

Adrian Fenty: I think gay marriage and marriage equality is the biggest thing to happen over the past three-and-a-half years. When the bill was introduced, I think it meant a lot to the people who introduced it and to the community that I expressed my full support and that I said I would sign it as soon as it came to my desk. I think that left a lot of people feeling very certain that it would move fast through the local government, which I think helped prevent naysayers in the federal government and Congress from being opposed to it.

We’ve also been very supportive of GLBT businesses. We’ve been very supportive of equality in the workplace, in hiring. The chief [D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier] has done a fantastic job in really trying to address some of the hate crimes that are sometimes being committed against our GLBT neighbors. So it’s been a great four years and we’re really looking forward to the next four years in a second term after the Democratic primary.

Blade: Some of your critics in the LGBT community who are backing Vincent Gray say you have not been as visible as they would prefer in speaking out on a number LGBT-related issues, including hate crimes, and that you haven’t attended many LGBT events. Is that a fair criticism?

Fenty: Yes, it is a very fair criticism. It’s actually probably extremely fair. I’ve got to do a much better job being more visible in my second term, and I will.

Fair to say, then, that for the time being Fenty is content with running the nation’s capital and won’t be gunning for a higher office just yet.

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