San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was at UC Davis on Wednesday for meetings with campus Democrats as well as area agriculture leaders.
Newsom was hosting an “urban-rural roundtable,” a private meeting with state and regional agricultural leaders and food producers to discuss regional food policy, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Newsom also met privately with active members of Davis College Democrats, Students for Barack Obama and King Hall Democrats, the Democratic Party organization at the UC Davis School of Law.
Newsom, who has been a leading advocate for marriage rights for gay couples, has been a leading opponent of Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in California.
“I believe in the principle of equality, and I don’t think you can preach equality and then excuse yourself from offering it to one segment of society,” he said in an interview after the meetings. “I think it’s discriminatory to take rights away from people, and again those rights are legally afforded people today.”
Newsom was featured in a recent Yes on 8 television advertisement that included a clip of him at a rally saying, “The door’s wide open now. It’s gonna happen, whether you like it or not.” He said he hopes Californians will look past television advertisements to see the real issue.
“Well, you know, I had my Howard Dean moment,” he said. “I wasn’t particularly proud that they spliced it, cut and pasted it.”
In the context of the speech, it wasn’t something that raised eyebrows, and no one called or wrote him about it until three months later, he said.
“As John McCain likes to say, this is tough business,” he said. “It’s a contact sport – I understand that well.”
Newsom, who was a longtime San Francisco city councilmember before becoming mayor, is considering running for governor of California in 2010. He said the outcome of the Prop 8 debate would not affect his decision to run, but could affect the viability of a campaign.
“Even if I’m in the minority and even if Prop 8 wins and the position we’ve been trying to advance fails, it won’t deter my desire to be part of the future and the direction of this state,” he said.
The San Francisco mayor also talked about the budget problems facing the University of California, saying the state’s inability to provide an affordable college education was seriously interfering with California’s ability to compete with other states and countries.
“I think it’s a downward spiral,” he said. “I think it’s one of those colossal mistakes we’ve been making over the last decade in this state … I think it is pennywise and pound foolish, and I don’t mean that just as a throwaway cliché, I mean that sincerely.”
He said the issue was something that needs to be addressed immediately.
“The greatness of this state is its investment in people, and when we start pricing people out of institutions of higher learning, we’re no longer competitive. We’re no longer on the leading and cutting edge.”
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.