San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders
Mayor Jerry Sanders with His Wife
Joan Walsh comments, “This is the way necessary social change happens. It starts out unthinkable, and then one day it’s inevitable.”
Mayor Jerry Sanders, mayor of the nation’s eighth-largest city, abruptly reversed his public opposition to same-sex marriage Wednesday, while also revealing that his adult daughter is a lesbian. Mayor Sanders signed a City Council resolution supporting a legal fight to overturn California’s prohibition on same-sex marriage. He had previously said he would veto the resolution. Sanders, a former police chief and a Republican, told reporters that he could no longer support the position he took during his mayoral campaign two years ago, when he said he favored civil unions but not full marriage rights for same-sex couples. “Two years ago, I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative,” he said at a news conference. “Those beliefs, in my case, have since changed. The concept of a ‘separate but equal’ institution is not something that I can support.”
He fought back tears as he said that he wanted his adult daughter, Lisa, and other gay people he knows to have their relationships protected equally under state laws. “In the end, I could not look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife, Rana,” Sanders said. “I’ve decided to lead with my heart. . . to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice,” he said haltingly.
The mayor, who is up for re-election next year, acknowledged that many voters who supported his earlier stance may disagree, but he said he had to do what he believed was right.
Joan Walsh writes about her feelings that Mayor Sanders took a truly heroic stance in today’s issue of Salon, which interested readers can access here.
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