SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 5: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom speaks to the media about the results of voting on Proposition 8 on November 5, 2008 in San Francisco, California. Voters passed the proposition, a ballot measure that repeals the right of gay couples to marry. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images)
A door that appeared wide open closed with a thud for Gavin Newsom.
During last year's elections, opponents of same-sex marriages used the San Francisco Mayor's low-throated victory growl
that same-sex marriages are coming "whether you like it or not" in pro-Proposition 8 commercials. The commercials opened with Newsom's hearty exclamation.
"This door is wide open now. It's gonna happen. Whether you like it or not."
On Sunday, a self-described "humbled" Newsom is in Long Beach talking about humility and social change, as presides at the city's Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade and tries a run at the governorship.
Newsom told the Long Beach Press-Telegram that his civil rights advocacy led him to utter the now infamous, and ultimately-futile, victory statement at San Francisco City Hall as that city started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex partners in 2004. California voters eventually overturned same-sex marriages, and the state Supreme Court is expected to rule next week if that constitutional amendment was properly put before voters.
The status of thousands of gay or lesbian couples who thought they had legally married between 2004 and 2008 is also to be decided by the court, in a decision that is expected to be released next week.
In the months that followed the Prop 8 election, Newsom's growl turned into a tweet. He's made use of Twitter to talk about other issues, but he remains a high-profile figure in the same-sex marriage debate.
Newsom is in Long Beach this weekend presiding at the annual celebration of lesbian and gay political power, invited because of "his support of diversity and inclusion, not to mention that validation he has brought to the community," as gay activist Sergio Macias told the Press-Telegram.
Newsom's first marriage, affair with his best friend's wife, divorce and subsequent second marriage have made newspaper headlines in San Francisco and may be a millstone as he faces such luminaries as Attorney General Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and eBay founder Meg Whitman in the footrace to Sacramento in 2010.
But it is the cultural war over same-sex marriage that has crystalized around the San Francisco mayor.
"I am certainly humbled by the outcome of Proposition 8," Newsom told the Press-Telegram. "I was very humbled by it, but I recognize the work we still have to do. I am more pragmatic about it. I am very optimistic, but there is a 'hard-headedness' that we won't repeat.'"
Newsom told the paper he hopes the state Supreme Court will at the least protect the 18,000 marriage licenses obtained by same-sex couples during the window when the marriage bureau offices were open to them.
"This is, from my perspective, and good people can disagree, the greatest civil rights struggle, at least in my lifetime," the 41-year-old San Franciscan said.