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I Will Sign the Resolution
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders
September 19, 2007 Press Conference
© September 21, 2007, Demian

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders signed, on September 19, 2007, a City Council resolution supporting a challenge to California’s same-sex marriage ban. This is a reversal from his public opposition to-date, previously promising to veto it.

The Republican mayor said he could no longer back the position he took during his election campaign two years ago. At that time he favored civil unions, and not full marriage rights for same-sex couples.

According to Allison Hoffman of the Associated Press, the mayor fought back tears as he said he wanted his adult daughter, Lisa, and other gay people he knows, to have their relationships equally protected under state laws.

Mayor Jerry Sanders:

“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,”
The mayor, a former police chief, who is up for re-election next year, acknowledged that many voters who supported his earlier stance might disagree with his shift, but said he had to do what he believed was right.

The City Council had voted 5-3, on September 18, 2007, in favor of joining other California cities to back a California Supreme Court lawsuit to overturn the same-sex marriage ban.

Below is a transcript of the mayor’s press conference regarding his decision to support the fight for legal marriage.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders - September 19, 2007

I am here this afternoon to announce that I will sign the resolution that the City Council passed yesterday, directing the city attorney to file a [California Supreme Court] brief in support of gay marriage. My plan, that has been reported publicly, was to veto the resolution, so I feel like I owe all San Diegans right now an explanation for this change of heart.

During the campaign two years ago, I announced that I did not support gay marriage and instead supported civil unions and domestic partnerships. I have personally wrestled with that position ever since. My opinions on this issue have evolved significantly, as I think the opinions of millions of Americans from all walks of life have.

In order to be consistent with the position I took during the mayoral election, I intended to veto the Council resolution. As late as yesterday afternoon, that was my position. The arrival of the resolution — to sign or veto — in my office late last night forced me to reflect and search my soul for the right thing to do.

I have decided to lead with my heart, which is probably obvious at the moment, to do what I think is right, and to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice. The right thing for me to do is sign this resolution.

For three decades, I have worked to bring enlightenment, justice and equality to all parts of our community. As I reflected on the choices I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else, simply because of their sexual orientation.

A decision to veto this resolution would have been inconsistent with the values I have embraced over the past 30 years. I do believe that times have changed. And with changing time, and new life experiences, come different opinions. I think that’s natural, and it’s certainly true in my case.

Two years ago, I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative. Those beliefs, in my case, have changed. The concept of a “separate but equal” institution is not something I can support.

I acknowledge that not all members of our community will agree or perhaps even understand my decision today. All I can offer them is that I am trying to do what I believe is right.

I have close family members and friends who are a member of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa and her partner, as well as members of my personal staff. I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones; for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back; someone with whom they can grow old together and share life’s experiences.

And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I could not look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship — their very lives — were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana.

Thank you.

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