On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court refused to take Proposition 8 off the November ballot. The anti-gay marriage measure will now go to the voters…and gay rights activists will need the state's political stars to follow through on their promises. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is important, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are the real key players in the coming months.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appear together at a press conference in Los Angeles. (photo courtesy of the Mayor's Office)
Both politicians have promised to fight Proposition 8. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, can possibly deliver the moderate Republican/Independent/suburban vote, which will greatly enhance the gay cause. Villaraigosa, a Democrat, can help with Latinos, another influential voting block.
The mayor has been described by the Los Angeles Times as the “Latino point man” for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, with the Illinois senator regularly sending out the always enthusiastic Villaraigosa to court Latinos. Gays should expect the same kind of support from the mayor for same sex marriage, which may propel his own political career. Just ask Gavin Newsom. The San Francisco mayor became a state and national figure through his pro-gay stance.
Schwarzenegger, though, has said he may not have the time to hit the campaign trail for gay marriage supporters, and Villaraigosa likes to travel out-of-state…hitting the stump first for Senator Hillary Clinton and now for Obama. Which begs a number of questions. Will the gays play hard with these politicians? Can they play hard ball? Or do they even have the stomach to play hard ball? Like most elected officials, Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa always seek to build their war chests. The threat of gay money drying up–other boycotts have already started throughout the state–could change things quickly.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.