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February 19, 2004

Constituency politics at work. Via Atrios, this report of another American mayor declaring he would have “no problem” if the county clerk were to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, in San Francisco-style defiance of state law. What crusader for of far-out liberal politics is this, you ask? Why, that well-known devotee of progressive hermeneutics Richard M. Daley:
“They’re your doctors, your lawyers, your journalists, your politicians,” the mayor said. “They’re someone’s son or daughter. They’re someone’s mother or father…I’ve seen people of the same sex adopt children, have families. [They’re] great parents. […]

A devout Catholic, Daley scoffed at the suggestion that gay marriage would somehow undermine the institution of marriage between a man and a woman.

“Marriage has been undermined by divorce, so don’t tell me about marriage. You’re not going to lecture me about marriage. People should look at their own life and look in their own mirror. Marriage has been undermined for a number of years if you look at the facts and figures on it. Don’t blame the gay and lesbian, transgender and transsexual community. Please don’t blame them for it,” he said.

Daley said he has no control over marriage licenses in Cook County. But if [County Clerk David] Orr wants to take that bold step, the mayor has no problem with it.

Orr said he was “game to looking at options” provided a consensus could be built.

As Teresa remarked when she heard this, “Are we going to have a revolution led by mayors?” [10:01 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Constituency politics at work.:

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 10:30 AM:

Frankly, I'd say that a revolution led by mayors would be a great thing. Mayors are directly, locally elected (most places), and are often held much more immediately accountable by their constituencies than, say, Congresscritters in far-away Washington. Plus they have a more immediate, local, example-setting effect.

Or maybe that's just in DC.

Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 10:32 AM:

Cambridge (MA) almost started issuing them in November after the SJC decision, but decided to wait out the 180 day clock instead. We don't have a strong-mayor form of city government, though....

Emma ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 10:41 AM:

Short answer: please, God, YES.
Long answer: I have a feeling that we are going to see a reversal of the usual pattern, and it's the states and cities that are going liberal. Since the federal government is strangling them with severe underfunding for federally mandated programs, a lot of mayors are going to feel like flipping Washington the bird!

Ailsa Ek ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 10:51 AM:

Oh. Oh my. I am practically frothing at the mouth with delight here. Mind if I link to this in my LiveJournal?

Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 12:04 PM:

What do you think the possibilities are that the mayors' revolt will take this issue off the table for November? If it's a done deal, W and the boys will have a problem trying to turn back the tide. Kerry can remain above the fray, claiming "states rights". (I love it!). What do you folks think?

Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 12:43 PM:

All politics is local.

"States' rights," nothing! This is the reverse of "creeping federalism" -- instead of change being forced on states by the national government, it's coming from the county and municipal governments!

The line from "Alice's Restaurant" keeps creeping into my brain, "And friends they may thinks it's a movement."

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Rich Daley's dad is probably having fits in whatever level of Purgatory he's at.

Silicon.shaman ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 12:44 PM:

Lets hope the revolution spreads to my side of the pond too ! Britain has even less of an excuse not to allow gay marrages than the U.S of A

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 01:17 PM:

Teresa remarked when she heard this, “Are we going to have a revolution led by mayors?

Hey, the stallions ain't doin' nuthin'.

I'm skipping up and down with glee myself.

Lois, I really doubt that Daly Sr. made it to Purgatory...the Lakes O' Fire Retirement Community was made to order fer the likes o' that 'un. (That's if I believed in any of that, which I actually don't. For myself, I bet he wept when his eyes were opened about his life, and he's now in Karmic Reform School.)

But the son! My, does he get props. Not a perfect guy, but honor where due. (Where did I just see that?)

Silicon.shaman, do you know what EU principles are on contracts? Do EU member nations have to honor contracts made in other EU nations? (Because there are a couple of EU countries with same-sex marriage.) I've been wondering the same about NAFTA, now that Canada has once again shown itself to be the most civilized nation in the Western Hemisphere (not that it was in doubt). Alas, haven't found anyone who can explain, or quote the relevant bits of the treaty, so I'm still wondering.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 01:46 PM:

"the Lakes O' Fire Retirement Community was made to order fer the likes o' that 'un."

Perhaps, but I think they would have gotten him a management position there.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 02:18 PM:

Stefan, you're right of course. But still: not Purgatory.

I once wrote a little pseudo-Shakespearean thing (blank verse, with little WS tropes and explanatory footnotes) titled "A Purgatory Revel, or Party 'til You Puke." I'd paste it in here, but a) most of the jokes were in-jokes for the place I worked at the time; b) I'm at work and it's at home, and c) Patrick would reach through the internet and strangle me with virtual rope, or worse, ban me from posting here.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 02:30 PM:

As someone who, despite an 1800 mile distance, still considers herself a Chicagoan, I must say that little things like that are just a part of why I still consider myself a Chicagoan.

Chicago Catholics have typically been fairly open-minded on topics like this. Even where they believe things are wrong, they frequently come up with statements like Daley's. The late Cardinal Bernardin was also well-known for his willingness to discuss controversial issues and his examination of the differences between what one believes is moral and what one believes should be legislated.

(I come from a Catholic family, though I wasn't myself raised Catholic -- my dad is apostate; my mother was from a Protestant family. My family is the same way overall.)

Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 03:00 PM:

Mayor Junior, who is usually not as fluent and glib as his father, said "gay and lesbian, transgender and transsexual community" without turning a hair. There is some sort of serious political calculation here somewhere. He's made (and flubbed) entire speeches with fewer syllables than that phrase.
When I heard the clip on the radio, I was stunned.
(For non-acquaintances, I'm a native Chicagoan. Chicago, not the greater six-county whatever.)

Sean ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 03:19 PM:

I love this. Remember when the Republicans were all about states' rights? Then along came Elliot Spitzer and now the mayor of San Francisco. They never imagined that states rights would mean that all their pals would get prosecuted for corporate malfeasence and that gay people would be getting married.

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 03:25 PM:

Lois writes: "Meanwhile, elsewhere, Rich Daley's dad is probably having fits in whatever level of Purgatory he's at"

Hm. Would his political sense outweigh any prejudices he had when alive? If he can do the political calculus for Chicago as it is in 2004, he might be cheering his boy on for a slick move.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 03:39 PM:

"He's made (and flubbed) entire speeches with fewer syllables than that phrase."

In a pinch, he could boil it down to my reaction to conservatives' apoplexy over this issue:

"Oh, get over it."

aha ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 03:59 PM:

A revolution led by politicians is no surprise.
Politicians are frequently revolting.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 04:41 PM:

We can only hope.

Mayors answers more directly to the people they serve, and a grass-roots movement, with results (to paraphrase the present occupant of 1600 Penn. Ave) might manage to get the issue off the lips of pundits and foaming advocates, for and against, and into the arena I like to think Americans actually care about...

It is fair, just and right?

Divorce it from the morality issues of the churches, and look at it as a legal issue, and the answer is plain, at least IMO, and I think most people agree.

So this a a great and glorious day. Thoreau would be proud.

Terry K

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 04:55 PM:

What does the Chicago budget look like? By my rough estimates, SF is making about $10K a day ($82 per couple, and the lines are around the block so the only bottleneck is how quickly licences can be processed--they guarantee 50 per day, so 120-125 isn't an unreasonable guess).

And the links for marriage licences don't say anything about having to be a CA resident. (After all, that's what "full faith and credit" is supposed to be about, no?)

$2-2.5MM a year in "found money" pays for a lot of city services.

Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 06:18 PM:

Very cynical, Ken. Probably only a SMALL part of their considerations. If it was a big part, they'd be bragging about it. They're politicians, after all. They can't help bragging.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 07:48 PM:

A lot of people (myself included) have made the comparison between Gavin Newsom's dramatic policy and the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Chicago's Richard Daley has joined the parade.

Hmmm. In both San Francisco and Chicago, the titular head of a big city's ruthless and uncompromising political machine has found an issue on which it is possible to make a seemingly daring and dramatic stand, a feel-good issue that makes the party boss look good and overshadows the way that machine conducts business as usual.

The historical parallel suddenly looks less like the Wall coming down, and more like the actions of Moscow mayor Boris Yeltsin – a chip off the same block (or perhaps a skim off the same pond) as Newsom and Daley.

Yes, I know, what is happening is an unqualified good thing. But we don't call him "Gavin Noisome" for nothing.

GMRwordman ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 08:12 PM:

Bless you, Mayor Daley! (Secularly, of course).

What a cogent, clear explanation of the basic "rightness" of what's happening in S.F., and now, perhaps Chicago. Why not my hometown, New York?

Bloomberg may not quite have the political strength to push it, but he's inclined to support gay rights. Of course with the Repub Convention (see you there!) coming, he may be making a political calculation first...

GR

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 08:17 PM:

Alan, either "what is happening is an unqualified good thing" or it isn't. If it is, as you say it is, then the point of the rest of your post is obscure.

I mean, did the rest of us miss the part where someone was arguing that Gavin Newsom or Richard M. Daley were saints? Of course they're not. They're very pragmatic and even ruthless politicians. That's why it's so striking that they've decided to get so far out on this limb.

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 08:18 PM:

Mayors are probably far more likely to participate in pride parades and other such events, than are governors, congressmen, presidents, etc. You might get state congressmen from any districts in gay neigborhoods, but probably not from outside there.

So mayors are more likely to be connected with their gay electorate than most other elected officials. And other elected officials who do work closely with their gay constituents probably don't have enough influence or power to acheive much on marriage, whereas some mayors do.

So it makes sense that mayors would be at the lead.

Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 09:29 PM:

Alan--What Patrick said. I don't care why Newsom and Daley are doing the right thing. I care that they are doing the right thing. Maybe Daley really and truly understands that he'd be on the side of truth, justice, and the American way, or maybe he's counting votes.

If the mayor of Chicago is supporting gay rights because he calculates that it is the politically astute thing to do, we're further along in this revolution than I'd dared to hope.

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 09:38 PM:

Chuck Nolan,

Not at all cynical. Just a clear, basic explanation of why MAYOR DALEY would be interested.

I personally believe it to be an unqualified Good Thing. But that doesn't explain the timings.

What does expain the timings is that a company such as NEC argued against Ohio's recent abomination on the pragmatic--thank you, Patrick, exactly the word--ground that it will make it more difficult for them to hire workers.

And once the SF genie was out of the bottle--and licences appear to be being produced at around 250-300/day, judging by the last report I saw--mayors such as Mr. Daley spoke with people who are doing the math.

I wouldn't boast about $2.5(or even $5)MM a year in incremental revenue either. It's not the point the "bleeding edge" city wants to highlight. (The revenue stream does justify--in many ways, none of which are economic--the proactive lawsuit, but that's a side discussion.)

But it WILL be a reason you'll see mayors of other cities encouraging their town to follow suit. Mayor Daley is not daring, but he is pragmatic.

Mayor Bloomberg is making the safe call, knowing full well that if SLC and Upstate New York are loci of support for SF, NYC doesn't need to be bleeding, or even leading, edge. It's disappointing, but not surprising in view of invasion coming in September.

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 10:07 PM:

Ken writes: "What does expain the timings is that a company such as NEC argued against Ohio's recent abomination on the pragmatic--thank you, Patrick, exactly the word--ground that it will make it more difficult for them to hire workers."

I think the Dems should support gay marriage as a jobs program and economic boost.

People spend an awful lot of money on weddings, money which would go to local merchants and service providers.

Might not turn out to be much, in the end, but it'd be something, in an economy where it couldn't hurt.

natasha ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2004, 11:28 PM:

"If the mayor of Chicago is supporting gay rights because he calculates that it is the politically astute thing to do, we're further along in this revolution than I'd dared to hope."

Yes. The first thing I thought when I heard this was, 'boy, Gavin Newsom will be able to get re-elected as mayor of SF for the rest of his life if he wants.' After narrowly squeaking by a Green, he had nothing to lose but his margin.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 02:27 AM:

I think the appropriate comment at this point regarding motivations and character is: Yes, of course Mayor Daley is a crook. But he's our crook.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 04:09 AM:

At least a portion of the advances of the Civil Rights movement in the sixties were due to enlightened mayors, as well, so this isn't utterly without precedent.

But still.

Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 09:47 AM:

"Mayor Daley is not daring, but he is pragmatic."

I'd say bulldozing Meigs Field in the middle of the night was fairly daring, but of course he's never had anyone make a real electoral challenge in his entire tenure, so he really doesn't have much to worry about.

Daley's been good to the gay community from the start, so I'm not totally shocked by his position here. I suppose he'll get some flack from the bungalow belt, but contrasting gay marriage with hetero divorce was a pretty smart way to counter it.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 12:46 PM:

Sweet thought:

Bloomberg starts handing out licenses *during* the GOP Convention.

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 01:11 PM:

Stefan: I wouldn't put it past him. Whatever the letter after his name says, the man is a NYC liberal. (Guiliani, for all his faults, when he was kicked out of his house, where did he stay? With his gay friends.) He's getting sicker and sicker of what Pataki and Bush are making him eat while smiling about it, and I think he's close to popping.

This is, of course, to say nothing of certain NY Sup. Ct. folks who would lurrve to get their hands on someone asking for a prelim injunction against the issuance of such licenses.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 04:28 PM:

“Are we going to have a revolution led by mayors?”

Some of the most interesting and innovative political action is occurring at the local and metro-regional level--in ecological and land-use issues as well as civil rights. The localities, after all, are where the rubber meets the road in most law and regulation.

Hey, Jerry Brown says the most interesting politics is urban--must be true.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 07:10 PM:

Over at Calpundit, a commenter mentioned (but didn't include a link, dammit; I had to track this down myself) that Cambodia's King Sihanouk has issued a statement supporting same-sex marriages, and that his thinking about the issue started when he watched television news footage of the San Francisco weddings.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 08:42 PM:

We can add a county clerk in New Mexico to the list of states where lisences have been issued.

Just think of all the legal arguments to come.

Terry K.

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 10:08 PM:

Cancel NM. The State AG apparently decided that the county attorney--who appears to have read the rules posted correctly--should be advised inaccurate.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4251510/

Waiting for the civil suits...

Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2004, 10:55 AM:

At this rate, the Massachusetts 180-day delay is going to put us in the middle of the pack! Still and all, anyone coming for Noreascon who wants to schedule a wedding then should think about it.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2004, 11:25 AM:

I do like how Daley=Machine, out in the real world. Let me tell you the Chicago perspective.

If he's a crook, he's our kind of crook. The city works. In the last election (2003), he won every ward, and 78% of the vote. The reason he's won more terms than his father is simple -- Chicagoans vote for him in droves.

He has no interest in further office. He works for the people who live in 606XX -- and doesn't kowtow to those who don't, esp. those in the suburbs who insist that Chicago do things to make thier life easier, and resident's life harder. If you want a say in Chicago, move into the city, and you can get a say.

The whole flap over Meigs is a classic example. Meigs was costing the city about half a million to run. Yes, Chicago Airports make money, but that was Midway and O'Hare. Meigs was eating half a million more than it was taking in. It was downstaters and suburbanites who used the airport, so they wouldn't have to sully themselves by driving in Chicago anymore than they have to.

Daley finally made a deal -- get funding for the O'Hare rebuild, and Meigs stays open for the next 25 years. Peter Fitzgerald, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee (and an IL rep.) spikes the funding, in a way that was as public as possible, *after* making the deal with Daley, Gov. Ryan, and a couple of others.

Meigs was closed within a week, and is being converted to a park. Downstaters are convinced that Meigs will be the downfall of Daley. Dream on. Chicagoans *don't care.* They're getting a park for all, not an airport for the rich few who can't be bothered to live in thier city.

The GOP downstate calls Daley a deal breaker. Chicagoans go "Downstate. Feh." Daley gets no votes from downstate. They can hate him all they want -- and they can fly into O'Hare or Midway like the rest of us do. Chicagoans think this is dandy. We're hoping the park will be finished quicker than Millenium Park (poster child for creeping featuritis).

If Daley had dreams of the US Senate, this sort of thing would be a killer. Since he's quite happy to be Da Mayor, this thing means he can be mayor as long as he wants to.

This is why the revolution is coming from the Mayors. A mayor who doesn't have dreams of higher office answers only to his city. The fewer people you have to please, the easier it is to do so.

I've always thought that if Daley wanted to retire to a simpler job, he could move to Boulder, CO and run for mayor there. Between his love of cycling, green space, and the support for gay marriage, he'd fit right in. The mountains would probably bother him in a small way, though -- he (and I) are used to horizons that are flat.

Hamilton Lovecraft ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2004, 01:25 PM:

Teresa has all the best lines.

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2004, 04:26 PM:

Christopher Davis writes: "At this rate, the Massachusetts 180-day delay is going to put us in the middle of the pack! Still and all, anyone coming for Noreascon who wants to schedule a wedding then should think about it."

Especially hetero weddings.

Hetero weddings among the gay weddings would help signal that yes, Virginia, there are straight couples who don't feel that the institution is cheapened or threatened by gay marriage.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2004, 09:34 PM:

John H: In that case you'll be pleased to know there are already 2 hetero weddings scheduled for Noreascon.

MKK

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2004, 10:40 PM:

Terrific post, Erik. I have to admit that I'm extremely receptive to the tug of Chicago, so your chauvinism on the subject always has a receptive audience here.

Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2004, 11:22 PM:

Yeah, it's chauvinism. But, dammit, there's something there, in great cities. And I'll set Chicago up against any of them.

I think Sandberg nailed it.

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
     as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
          Bareheaded,
          Shoveling,
          Wrecking,
          Planning,
          Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
     white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
     man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
     never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
     and under his ribs the heart of the people,
               **Laughing!**
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
     Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
     Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
     Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

(emphasis mine. I think.)

Chicago. The city that will smile, and buy you a beer, after telling you to fuck off -- and mean both.


Cynthia Gonsalves ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2004, 09:17 PM:

Since I'm slowly giving up hope that we get any concrete reform out of DC, Sacramento, or any of the other 49 state capitals, I'm gladdened to no end to see Mayors Newsom and Daley go out on this limb. I dearly hope that the CA Supreme Court comes out with an unambiguous denunciation of Proposition 22 in this latest court foray.