By Cody Juric
Campus News Reporter
Gavin Newsom, the iconic young mayor of San Francisco, continued his crusade for same-sex marriage and reproductive rights Tuesday, speaking at UC Santa Cruz against the statewide ballot Propositions 4 and 8.
Newsom, who catapulted to national prominence in 2004 after granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, received the key to the city of Santa Cruz from Mayor Ryan Coonerty. He spoke to a student audience about how detrimental to the nation these hot button propositions would be if they were passed.
“Every time a constitution has been amended it has been to give people rights, not take them away,” the 41-year-old mayor said. “I am not going to stand by as members of our community have their rights assaulted.”
Newsom strongly condemned both Propositions 4 and 8, but Proposition 8 dominated most of the afternoon.
“This is a fight we shouldn’t be having and didn’t ask for in California,” Newsom said. “If we change the law, we change the constitution.”
Audience member Kate Harrison was excited to attend the UCSC event.
“I was in total agreement with him and very empowered,” Harrison said. “I thought it was interesting he came here though, when we’re all clearly on his side already [at UCSC].”
Many people in Santa Cruz and at UCSC support Newsom’s position.
“He spoke well, yet in Santa Cruz it’s kind of like you are preaching to the choir,” said Katy Seiger, campaign coordinator for Proposition 8. “Still there are a lot of people that still need to hear about the arguments.”
Newsom pointed to the overall importance of the youth vote in this election as a reason he came to UCSC.
“If Barack Obama is elected president and Prop. 8 fails, that will be disproportionately decided by the youth vote,” Newsom said. “I believe very strongly if we don’t remind people what’s at stake this will be one of the most disappointing elections.”
Mia Ragent, coordinator for the UCSC chapter of Students for Obama, found Newsom’s speech effective.
“I appreciated how blunt he was and that he doesn’t cater to specific audiences,” Ragent said. “He seems to have the same approach and direction to prove the same things with each type of grouping.”
The issue affects many of Ragent’s close friends, she said.
“My next-door neighbors got married on the day it became possible,” she said.
Newsom chastised the national vice presidential candidates for supporting only civil unions for same-sex couples. Throughout his career, Newsom has criticized legislation which “only amounts to a ‘separate but unequal’ status for the community.”
He said the nation has a history of similar policies, citing Brown v. Board of Education as an example of “separate but not equal.” This is not right, he said.
“If the gay community can have their rights taken away, who is going to stop other communities from getting their rights taken away?” Newsom asked.
Newsom responded to religious arguments in favor of Proposition 8.
“The church does not affect decisions about [state law],” he said. “The church is not impacted by same-sex relations. There is a clear distinction of separation between church and state.”
Newsom has been slated as a potential candidate for the California gubernatorial race of 2010. Even so, when an audience member asked him what he would think if his political career was forever tied to gay rights, Newsom didn’t pull any punches.
“The full promise of the Constitution should be afforded to everyone,” he said. “Politicians come and go — principles transcend.”