On Gay Marriage & Gavin Newsom...

After reading Cahir O'Doherty's May 29th Irish Voice article titled, Newsom Applauds Gay Marriage Ruling, we couldn't help but make a few comments.

It's great to see the Irish Voice covering LGBT issues! Not all Irish/Irish Americans are hardcore homophobes, and it's nice to see an Irish paper profiling issues pertaining to those of us Irish folks that fall outside of an ultra-conservative Catholic world view.

While it is positive that Gavin Newsom, an Irish Catholic heterosexual man from a privileged family, has stood by the affluent sector of the LGBT community in the fight for marriage equality, it is important to remember that Newsom is not a friend to all sectors of the LGBT community.

In the city of San Francisco, Newsom was responsible for Care Not Cash (Proposition N), a paternalistic program designed to cut cash grants given to homeless people in general assistance programs in exchange for encouraging them to enter shelters and seek other social services. This program limited the autonomy of homeless people and attempted to keep them off the street and out of sight, and was also meant to ensure any cash issued was not being used to buy drugs or alcohol.

In another attempt to "improve the quality of life" in San Franciso, Newsom also sponsored Proposition M, known as the "aggressive anti-panhandling measure." This measure defined "aggressive panhandling" as touching, following or threatening people and banned all forms of begging near ATMs, parking lots, check-cashing businesses, median strips, highway ramps, and on public transportation. (This measure even made it so that Girl Scouts could no longer peddle their cookies in Safeway supermarket parking lots.)

(And that's just a bit on two of Newsom's policies. Really, we could go on and on.)

We point this out because contrary to stereotypes, not all LGBT people are rich & white. Our community is every community - Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latino, white, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, rich, poor, working class, middle class....you get the picture. The gay marriage ruling in California is a step forward, and it is commendable that Governor Paterson here in NY is seeking to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, but it is crucial that LGBT folks stay active on issues beyond gay marriage. To us, Gavin Newsom cannot be considered a hero to the LGBT community when he has such a strong record on "quality of life" issues that criminalize poor folks, which includes LGBT folks.

So again, kudos to the Irish Voice for covering more Irish/Irish American LGBT issues, but we can't in good conscience join in on any Gavin Newsom admiration. But blogs were made for this very reason, to debate and voice other opinions. And in our case, our opinions always veer to the left and are always tied to a human rights for all framework.