A well attended Rules and Open Government Committee meeting Wednesday dealt with an uncommon topic at City Hall these days: love. Or, to be more precise, love between a couple that doesn’t consist of a man and a woman.
After more than an hour of public comments where many people framed marriage as a civil rights issue and others called it a sacred religious institution, Mayor Chuck Reed, Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio unanimously agreed to delay any action on a memo from Councilmember Ash Kalra that wanted the City Council to form a resolution in support of gay marriage. The council has taken up similar resolutions in the past.
The main hangup for Nguyen on Wednesday was the final line in Kalra’s memo, which called on Mayor Reed to sign the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry online petition. More than 200 mayors across the country have signed the petition, yet Reed opposes gay marriage and voted for Prop 8.
“I think this is a political stunt either about the national elections or the local elections, and I didn’t want to participate in it,” Reed said at the meeting. He then supported Oliverio’s substitute motion for the mayor to meet with members of the community for and against gay marriage, after the June 5 election and budget session later in the month, and then report back to the Rules Committee.
Similar to a memo submitted by Councilmember Sam Liccardo on Wednesday morning, Nguyen offered a motion that would’ve supported Kalra’s memo, which fellow councilmembers Don Rocha, Kansen Chu and Xavier Campos signed, if the final line about the mayor’s petition endorsement could be removed. Councilmember Xavier Campos wrote his own memo supporting Kalra’s.
Oliverio’s opponent in the District 6 City Council race, Steve Kline, spoke at the meeting, urging the committee to approve Kalra’s memo. Kline, who is openly gay and said he has been married since late 2008, called gay marriage “the civil rights issue of the 21st century.”
Jeff Moore, president of the local Silicon Valley-San Jose NAACP chapter, asked Mayor Reed to “live your faith; don’t legislate your faith.”
When opposing the memo, Nguyen said, “I whole-heartedly support marriage for everyone.” However, on asking the mayor to sign the online petition, “I couldn’t agree,” she said.
“I don’t think this is my place to undermine the mayor on this issue or any other issues.”
Reed added in his comments that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals already ruled gay marriage is a civil rights issue pending appeal to the Supreme Court.
“Whether or not somebody believes one way or another,” he said, “it’s not going to determine the outcome.”