Committee Delays on Gay Marriage Memo

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.”

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

5 Comments

  1. There it is , as I just read in “the Merc” I guess its alot easier to Support an ILLEGAL Ballot Measure than it is to support Equal rights for all.

    Its funny to me that anytime this @#%of a Mayor gets called out on anything “its a political stunt” But when he lies on KLIV, The Merc,and Yes on B fliers its O.k.,but as far as Madison goes …………she’s not bright enough to realize that she is just a puppet.

    • Amen.  Just as he did with measure B – “Let the Voters decide”.  Now he says “let the courts decide” this issue.  Your the stinking Mayor, make a decision you coward.

  2. I don’t know anything about this petition, but most mayors are elected directly or appointed from elected councilpersons.  A petition for mayors, suggests that the signers are signing on behalf of their municipalities.

    If Mayor Reed doesn’t want to sign something as Chuck Reed, resident of San Jose, then I’m OK with that.  If he doesn’t want to sign something as Chuck Reed, Mayor of San Jose, even though a plurality of the City Council feels he should, then I think he’s wrong.  He represents the City of San Jose, and San Jose deserves to have its voice heard.

  3. I am a strong supporter of gay marriage, and I do agree it is a matter of civil not religious rights. Having said that, everyone who voted for Mayor Reed in his first and second bid for Mayor,including myself, knew his stand on gay marriage. His stand on this issue now should not surprise anyone.

    I do not think that our Mayor should be forced to sign anything he does not believe in. I know I would not allow any one to mandate my beliefs, nor would I sign something that went against everything I believe in.

    I personally think that the way Mayor Reed is being portrayed on this issue is unfair. He has always maintained that should gay marriage be deemed legal in the State of California, he would abide by the law. I think that is reasonable and fair.

    I think our City Council can pass a proclamation in support of gay marriage without forcing Mayor Reed to betray his beliefs. Mayor Reed is entitled to his beliefs just like the rest of us, and I do not believe he should be asked to separate who he is, and what he believes in from his position as our Mayor. Remember, we voted for him twice knowing his stand on this issue.

    I don’t agree that this is a political stunt, and I don’t think this is being done to embarrass the Mayor, or to help defeat Measure B. I honestly believe it was done with the purest of intentions. In my opinion, any group who is being denied a legal, civil right is being discriminated against, period.

    I must also say that this situation bothers me on many levels because it exemplifies just how bad things have gotten in this world. People get outraged over things and try to pressure others into doing, thinking, and behaving in ways they have no right to. The media controls information, and disseminates lies and misinformation without accountability. You can’t seem to say anything or do anything without offending someone. It is all crazy making to me. I say that Mayor Reed should stand by his beliefs, and the Council can pass a proclamation without all these theatrics and politics.